THE RIDE: Four-door, seven-passenger 2009 Chevrolet Traverse all-wheel-drive crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Sharing only its design with the Buick Enclave and GMC Academia, this all-new Chevy sits on a body-frame integral structure. The test-driven Traverse, the top-of-the-line LTZ trim, came with an all-wheel-drive system. This meant an even distribution of torque between front and rear axles. Translation? A smooth, comfortable ride irrespective of inclement weather or rough road conditions.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 3.7-liter V-6 engine pumps out 288 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 270 pounds-feet of torque at 3400 rpm. The dual-exhaust system boosts fuel efficiency and engine performance. The 6-speed automatic transmission is flawless. Front suspension is handled by a MacPherson strut and direct-acting stabilizer bar. The rear is equipped with a linked H-arm independent suspension and coil springs. A hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system guides the SUV to its destination. Tow capacity is an impressive 5,200 pounds. Also striking are the standard 20-inch machined aluminum wheels. Though fuel prices have plummeted to less than $2 a gallon, makes the fact that the Traverse requires just regular gasoline even better.
LOOK & FEEL: It has a bold, extremely bold, front fascia, especially the huge chrome-ringed twin grille with the Chevy bowtie insignia. Projector-beam headlights, power dome hood, roof rails, fog lamps, dual chrome tips, integral blind-spot mirrors and a rear spoiler integrated over the lift gate window will draw you in. The speedometer, tachometer, water temperature and battery readings are located in two large gauge binnacles on the instrument panel. Comfort and convenience is the key in this SUV with its three-spoke tilt-and-telescoping leather steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled seats, eight-way power driver and four-way front-passenger seats. Our test vehicle came with a second-row captain's chairs and a third-row 60/40-split bench seat. The smart slide second-row feature allows straightforward access for passengers to reach the third-row seat.
SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, antiskid system, stability and traction control, remote vehicle start, rearview camera, ultrasonic rear parking assist and a tire pressure monitoring system.
OUT THE DOOR: $41,075, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P255/55R20; wheelbase, 118.9 inches; length, 205 inches; weight, 4,925 pounds; fuel capacity, 22 gallons; highway, 23 mpg; city, 16 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The first Chevy crossover from GM hits the bull's-eye. It offers tremendous performance, thanks to a 3.6-liter dual exhaust engine. And with plentiful storage and passenger-hauling capabilities, this is the vehicle you want to "Traverse" the road.