2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review

A new breed: the three-row Crossover

2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review

Everywhere you look, the automotive landscape is changing and GM’s balance sheet has not escaped the significant North American economic crisis. The General has however made the move to accommodate the consumer shift toward smaller, more fuel efficient cars and crossovers.



The Chevy Traverse is a three-row crossover that shares its Lambda platform with the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.


The Traverse has an impressive 5200-lb towing capacity despite a V6 engine and just 270 ft-lbs of torque.

At a media preview inside The General’s top-security vehicle proving grounds in Milford, MI, the Executive Director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing, Don Butler assured multiple waves of journalists that “there’s a growing opportunity for Chevy to enter the crossover market… and the (2009 Chevrolet) Traverse is the right vehicle at the right time.” The all-new 2009 Chevrolet Traverse crossover comes in three trims – LS, LT and LTZ – with front- or all-wheel drive. A new 3.6L direct injection V6 is standard on all models, though it has different outputs depending on the model.


LS models (FWD and AWD) have a single exhaust and a modest 281 hp and 266 ft-lbs of torque at 3400 rpm. The LT and LTZ models, however, are tuned to deliver 288 hp and 270 ft-lbs of grunt at 3400 rpm through a twin-outlet exhaust. All versions rely on a smooth six-speed Hydra-Matic 6T75 automatic transmission with overdrive to deliver up to 5200 lbs of max towing capacity. An available towing package adds a button to the dash that, when called up, simulates a “low” gear and sustains torque longer for slippery boat launches or steep grades.

The engine is newer and more powerful than those GM uses in its other three Lambda platform vehicles, which include the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. With an EPA estimated fuel economy of 17/24 mpg (city/highway), Chevy claims the Traverse offers the best fuel economy of any eight-passenger crossover.


Design-wise, the Traverse has been inspired by the award-winning 2008 Chevy Malibu. With a silhouette similar to the Enclave, the body is uncluttered and sleek with a bold character line that runs from the twin-port front grille and up the hood. It’s nice but perhaps a bit too simple. Exaggerated rear fenders, high-mounted Camaro concept-style taillights and a pinched-in power remote liftgate panel (just below the bowtie) pulls in everything nice and tightly at the rear.

In the aerodynamics department, considerable wind tunnel testing has helped fine-tune small details like a lower wind splitter (beneath the front bumper) and tiny gaps between door and body panels. A quiet, wind-friendly chassis that cuts a segment-leading 0.33 coefficient of drag are the main benefits.

Standard safety features of the Traverse include StabiliTrak vehicle stability control with rollover protection, four-wheel ABS disc brakes and six airbags, including the longest side head curtain bags in the industry. Another cool first is the integrated blind spot illuminator in each side mirror. Traverse gets five-star front and side crash ratings.


On this day, Chevy had several preproduction LT and LTZ vehicles on hand to try out on the 67-acre vehicle dynamics test area known locally as the Black Lake, which was littered with hundreds of cones (and a small army of Chevy workers) arranged to simulate a variety of scenarios. Some Toyota Highlander V6 Limiteds were provided for comparison.

My experience with the Traverse, however brief, was telling. Inside the big and functional cabin I heard very little road, wind or engine noise when all is buttoned up tightly. And, thanks to a new five-point engine mount system (previously four), there’s almost no vibration at idle.

Interior materials, finishes and workmanship appear top notch with upscale-looking controls found on the dash. The dual cockpit design is intimate for front seat occupants while the rear area allows plenty of room for people, things and many combinations thereof. A smart sliding second row allows access to the third, behind which two large golf bags or three average sized carry-on suitcases can easily fit without protest.

Besides offering seven- or eight-passenger seating (depending on model) and 117.5 cubic feet of total cargo space, the Lambda platform’s long 119-inch wheelbase and low centre of gravity translates into a smooth, stable ride with confident car-like handling. Exact tuning of the fully-independent suspension depends on wheel size – 17s, 18s or 20s – all with body roll well in check.

Through a short slalom course, a stiffer body and sharper reflexes make the Traverse more stable and predictable than the Toyota at the same speed. In the evasive lane change maneuvers on water-slicked Jennite (to make it slippery like ice/snow), however, the Highlander’s traction control system, though more intrusive (or audible) and sensitive, felt more effective and quicker at correcting collision-causing mistakes (i.e. a sudden jerk of the steering wheel).

I also had a chance to tow a 20-foot boat and trailer rig weighing in at roughly 4,200 lbs before heading back home. The tall first gear gets the load moving quite easily and, on the short test route with elevation changes, it was almost as if nothing was in tow. It’s too bad Black Lake isn’t actually a lake!

PLUS Great alternative to full-sized SUV Six-speed auto. tranny Stiffer body and sharper steering exceed those of Toyota Highlander in dry weather

MINUS Simple styling compared to other Lambda platform vehicles Wet-weather stability and traction control not as effective as Toyota Highlander


Solid performance, confident handling, excellent visibility, oodles of space, loads of functionality and plenty of options make the 2009 Chevy Traverse a solid all-around people mover. So, as sales of homegrown full-size trucks and SUVs continue to slide, GM is leaning on not only smaller, fuel efficient cars, but also its three-row mid-size crossovers to pave avenues for progress. They could turn out to be GM’s saving grace.

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked