Now in its fourth year on sale, the Chevrolet Traverse crossover comes largely unchanged for 2012. But as they say, "Why fix it if it ain't broken?" As one of the few crossovers in its class to have capacity for eight passengers, the Traverse stands out as a vehicle that can do duty for shoppers reluctant to step into minivans, but who don't want the fuel economy penalty of a large truck-based SUV.
With a powerful 3.6-liter V-6 engine as standard equipment, the Traverse makes between 281 and 288 horsepower and 266 to 270 lb-ft of torque depending on whether it's equipped with the standard single exhaust pipe or better-breathing optional dual-pipe setup. Both run on regular gasoline, and when equipped with standard front-wheel drive, can achieve as high as 24 mpg in EPA estimates -- a big number for such a big vehicle.
But for colder-climate areas like the Northeast, the Traverse also comes with available all-wheel drive, heated mirrors, and a tri-zone climate control system on 2LT and LTZ models that allows the front two passengers, as well as those in the second and third rows, the ability to adjust the settings separately. Additionally, unlike a minivan, the Traverse has a towing capacity of 5200 pounds, far above most traditional sliding-door people movers.
Body style: Five-door sport crossover sport utility vehicle
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Models: Chevrolet Traverse LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ
For 2012, additional features have been added to a few trim packages. The LTZ models now feature power-folding, body-colored heated power mirrors, and the driver's side mirror now has an auto dimming feature built into it. On 2LT models, heated manual folding power mirrors with an auto-dimming driver's side, body-color mirror housings, and integrated turn signals now come standard. The same features come on the 1LT models when it is optioned with the rearview camera. Additionally, two new colors have been added for this year: Dark Silver Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat.
As one of the largest vehicles in its class, the Chevrolet Traverse boasts an array of features, starting from plain 17-inch steel wheels with hubcaps all the way to big 20-inch wheels that better accentuate the character of the vehicle. The Chevrolet Traverse looks decidedly Chevrolet, with an inset crossbar grille and clean, smooth styling. With an available panoramic sunroof stretching to the back of the Traverse, it's easy for even the rearmost passengers to see the sky. On uplevel models, a power liftgate is available in addition to dual, chrome-ringed exhaust pipes and turn signals integrated into the rearview mirrors.
With standard eight-passenger seating or an optional middle row captain's chairs setup that cuts seating down to seven, the Traverse comes in a multitude of configurations from basic to downright luxurious. Getting to the third row is a cinch with a split-folding 60-40 second row that slides along tracks to make a decent-sized walkway without having to trip on the second row. Also available in the Traverse are a rear-seat entertainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio with a real-time traffic display in models optioned with the navigation system, and heated and cooled leather seats on LTZ models. Interior plastics leave something to be desired, however.
Performance & Handling
Though the Traverse is a high-riding crossover with a nearly 5000-pound curb weight, it rides smoothly and performs admirably in maneuverability testing. The ride is firm enough to let you know what the Traverse is on but relatively isolated from it. The turning circle is 40.4 feet, which is commendable for such a large vehicle. Keeping the Traverse buttoned down, General Motors' StabiliTrak stability control comes standard on all models as does traction control for rougher conditions.
Designed with safety in mind, the Traverse comes with a five-star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety rating, and it was named a Top Safety Pick for the 2011 model year. The Traverse comes with six standard airbags, including side-impact airbags for all three rows, front airbags for the driver and front passenger, and head curtain airbags. The Traverse also comes with standard traction control, stability control, hill start assist, and OnStar with automatic crash response. A rearview backup camera is also available.
EPA Fuel Economy
Traverse: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway (front-wheel drive); 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway (all-wheel drive)
- Roomy interior
- Ride and handling
- Safety ratings
You Won't Like
- Cheap interior materials
- Large pillars can create blind spots
- Can feel hefty at times
A safe, solid minivan alternative and competent soft-roader
If You Like This Vehicle
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