- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

As we trim down from 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 says its great looks are Malibu-inspired, which was an award-winning all-new introduction for 2008. The automaker also says the driving experience is typical of that of a smaller vehicle. I agree with that statement, for the Traverse is very easy to maneuver, especially with its 40-foot curb-to-curb turning circle. For those who need it, the Traverse also has a 5,200-pound towing capability.

The Traverse has good aerodynamics, which improves fuel economy and reduces wind noise. Regarding mileage, Chevy’s 2009 Traverse has an EPA rating of 17 city and 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 included cost $39,465. A double-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 is available, which is ideal for those who live in icy snowbound areas. Another nice 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, and both front bucket seats 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 had 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 projects the image of what was behind the vehicle 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 directions 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.

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

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