2009 Chevrolet Traverse Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse If...

If you're looking for a big family vehicle with excellent safety ratings, the ability to tow 5,200 pounds and reasonably good fuel economy for its size, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse may be the best game in town.

You May Not Like The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse If...

Those who absolutely must have a V8 won't find one offered on the Traverse. Styling is a bit more contemporary than its stablemates at Saturn and GMC, but resale values fall below those held by the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

What's New

While closely related to the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, the Traverse puts Chevrolet's own spin on the popular platform and represents the company's first foray into the full-size crossover segment. GM's most visible brand hopes to draw in loyalists as well as new customers looking for that unique Chevrolet combination of affordability, reliability and sportiness.

Interior Features

Tasteful design, high-quality materials and one of the most accommodating interiors in the class are the hallmarks of GM's newest crossover SUV. Second-row seats that slide fore and aft improve leg room while permitting easy entry into the third-row seat. And, unlike many third-row seats, the Traverse's can actually accommodate two adults in comfort while affording them full side-curtain airbag protection. Storage bins and cup holders abound, and there is enough room behind the third-row seat to accommodate two golf bags. Chevrolet has also gone to great lengths to silence the Traverse's cabin, which is remarkable quiet, even at highway speeds.

Exterior Features

The most noticeable difference between the Traverse and its sister vehicles can be found up front, where Chevrolet's new Malibu-inspired split-grille face is prominently displayed. The rear quarter window is also different, sharply angled upwards at its bottom edge. With its big wheels pushed to the outer edges, the Traverse presents an image of size and stability. Wide rear door openings make it easy for passengers to enter and exit the third-row seat, and an available electrically-powered rear hatch aids access to the cargo area. Available convex insets built into the upper corner of each side mirror help expose objects ordinarily masked by blind spots.

Driving Impressions

As with the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse delivers a surprisingly smooth ride, has adept handling and offers strong acceleration with very respectable gas mileage. We tested our Traverse on an enclosed track running a series of obstacle-avoidance tests. Driven back-to-back against the Toyota Highlander, the Traverse exhibited superior capabilities in almost every situation. In one test, we accelerated to 45 miles per hour and, without braking, executed a quick left-right maneuver on wet pavement around an orange pylon strategically placed to represent a sudden obstacle in the road. The StabiliTrak stability control system worked so efficiently it made small work of the test, allowing us to return immediately to our lane without any loss of control.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse LS has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $29,000; all-wheel drive adds another $2,000 to the bottom line. LT1 and LT2 trim push the price into the low $30,000 range, while a fully-loaded LTZ with all-wheel drive will be over $40,000. Our Fair Purchase Price reflects real-world transaction prices, so be sure to check and see what others are paying before you begin negotiations. Competitors such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Flex are priced similarly, while the Hyundai Veracruz generally lists for about a thousand dollars less. We expect the Traverse to hold resale values similar to those of its sibling vehicles from Saturn and GMC, which is to say average values on par with other domestics, but below those of the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

Notable Equipment

Every 2009 Chevrolet Traverse comes standard with six airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags, front side-impact airbags and front-passenger airbags. Also standard are StabiliTrak stability control with rollover mitigation technology, a one-year subscription to OnStar with Turn-by-Turn navigation, AM/FM stereo with CD and XM Satellite Radio, power windows, mirrors and door locks, rear wiper/washer, cruise control, 17-inch wheels, Smart Slide second-row seat and flush-folding third-row seat.

Notable Options

Options vary by trim, which includes 1LT, 2LT and LTZ. Available features on most trims include remote start, a power rear liftgate (both standard on 2LT and LTZ), Bose 10-speaker Surround Sound audio system, DVD navigation, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, all-wheel drive, second-row captain's-chair seating, Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist, 110-volt three-prong outlet, two different rearview backup cameras (one for vehicles with navigation, the other for those without), heated windshield-wiper fluid, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, tri-zone climate control, HID headlamps, heated front seats (heated and cooled front seats standard on LTZ) and a dual-panel glass moonroof.

Favorite Features

StabiliTrak Stability Control with Rollover Mitigation Technology
Although you'll never know it until you have to use it, this technology could very well save your life. It drastically improves the Traverse's ability to remain composed in even the most radical emergency maneuvers.

Smart Slide Second-row Seat
This easy and convenient feature allows the second-row seat bottom to flip up and the seat to slide forward, creating a wide pathway to the third-row seat.

Under the Hood

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is powered by a sophisticated 3.6-liter V6 engine with variable valve timing and direct injection technology for improved performance and fuel economy. While most owners will be just fine with the 281 horsepower found on the LS and LT trims, the LTZ features a dual exhaust which bumps the horsepower to 288. All trims feature a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode and can be equipped with Chevrolet's excellent intelligent all-wheel-drive system. Unlike many of GM's other vehicles, however, the Traverse is not E85-compatible.}

3.6-liter V6
281 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
288 horsepower @ 6300 rpm (dual exhaust)
266 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5500 rpm
270 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm (dual exhaust)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 16/23 (AWD)

Editors' Notes

Although the once-thriving SUV business is in a sales downturn, GM is keenly aware that many Americans still have a need for seven-passenger transportation. With this in mind, GM has created a new line of crossover SUVs offering maximum interior space, mid-level towing capability and fuel economy numbers that reach into the mid-twenties. The latest iteration of this well-conceived platform is the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, a vehicle that combines contemporary styling, one of the best accident-avoidance systems in the business and an interior worthy of a high-end luxury car – all at a Chevrolet price.

Video Reviews

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LT review
2009-2012 Chevy Traverse | Consumer Reports
2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review - Kelley Blue Book
2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ 1800311

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