- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

As we trim down from the big sport utility vehicles, Chevrolet bellies up to the plate with an all-new crossover with projected best-in-class fuel economy — the 2009 Traverse.

Chevrolet’s Traverse is a stylish, well-equipped vehicle that seats seven people comfortably - or eight people in a pinch. It has all the latest innovations — including a panoramic rooftop.

Chevrolet people say its great looks are Malibu-inspired, which was an award-winning all-new introduction for 2008.

Chevy also says the driving experience is typical of that of a smaller vehicle. I agree with that statement because the Traverse is easy to maneuver, especially with its 40-foot curb-to-curb turning circle.

For those who need it, the Traverse has a 5,200-pound towing capability.

The Traverse has good aerodynamics, which improves that fuel economy and reduces wind noise. Regarding mileage, Chevy’s 2009 Traverse has an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 17 city, 24 highway, which is reasonable for a large vehicle. On the subject of noise, the quiet interior allowed me to enjoy the sound system, which featured XM Satellite radio. The low noise level of the interior is the result of close fitting body components.

The Traverse LT test-drive model has a base price of $33,515, and my tester with some desirable options cost $39,465. A dual-overhead cam 24-valve, 3.6-liter V-6 engine linked to a six-speed automatic transmission powers this new 2009 Chevrolet beauty. The V-6 engine uses Direct Fuel Injection, which engineers say results in no delay in acceleration. With a dual-exhaust system, the V-6 produces 288 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 270 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,400 rpm.

My tester was standard equipped as a front-wheel drive CUV, but all-wheel drive is available, which is ideal for those who live in icy snowbound areas. Another nice mechanical feature on my tester was variable assist steering and StabiliTrak, which is a great safety feature should the vehicle hit a slippery spot and start to spin out of control. GM’s electronic stability control system gets you back on track quickly.

The interior has plenty of room, and I easily adjusted the six-way power controls on the driver’s seat to my comfort. The front passenger seat has four-way adjustments. Both front bucket seats and can be heated. The second row of the Traverse tester is equipped with captain’s chairs while the third row has a split bench seat, allowing for flexible cargo hauling options. Additionally, the second-row chairs have the Smart Slide seat feature for easier access to the third row.

The LT tester has a vehicle starter system, Bluetooth wireless technology, automatic dual-zone climate control, and a power control liftgate. The new Traverse also has fog lamps and sits on attractive 17-inch pearl-clad aluminum wheels. When backing up, a camera projected the image of what was behind me onto the rearview mirror, rather than a navigational screen, which was not part of the tester’s equipment.

Another feature that comes with the Traverse is OnStar 8.0. You get the first year free, and after that, you’re hooked, as it’s a great system. Suppose you need direction to some location, just touch the blue button on the rearview mirror and a person will give you turn-by-turn directions. In an accident, OnStar will send help.

Traverse comes with six air bags. If you need to carry lots of passengers, the new crossover from Chevy is worth a test drive, so bring the family along.

SPECIFICATIONS

2009 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE 2LT

VEHICLE TYPE: 7/8-passenger FWD large CUV

BASE PRICE: $33,515 (as tested: $39,465)

ENGINE TYPE: V-6 DOHC 24-valve w/DFI

DISPLACEMENT: 3.0-liter

HORSEPOWER (net): 288 at 6400 rpm

TORQUE (lbs.-ft.): 270 at 3400 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

WHEELBASE: 119 in.

TRACK (front/rear): 68/67 in.

OVERALL LENGTH: 205 in.

OVERALL WIDTH: 78 in.

HEIGHT: 73 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb): 40 ft.

CURB WEIGHT: 4,720 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY: 22 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING: 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

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