What's New for 2010
It's USB ports all around for the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, as the handy connectors are fitted to audio, navigation and DVD entertainment systems. Beyond that and some minor equipment shuffling, the competent Traverse enters its sophomore year essentially unchanged.
Volatile gas prices and altered priorities have forced many consumers to reconsider the need (or lack thereof) for a large, gas-thirsty, truck-based SUV. Without the need for massive towing capacity or off-road capability, these folks could be well served by the oh-so-practical and user-friendly minivan. Of course, many of them can't get around the minivan's less-than-flattering image.
Filling the breach is the large crossover SUV, a vehicle that combines nearly the same amount of family-focused functionality and car-based dynamics of a minivan with the ruggedly sporty appearance and personality of an SUV. And in this segment, the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse is one of the better vehicles for providing plenty of space, comfort and performance for an attractive price.
One of four GM quadruplets built on the same "Lambda" platform (that also includes the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook), the Traverse was introduced just last year. It's probably overkill to have four versions of essentially the same vehicle, and the Traverse differs little other than in styling and minor equipment and interior trim variations. But like its siblings, the Traverse boasts greater amounts of passenger and cargo space than a traditional large SUV while also delivering a more pleasant, carlike driving experience and superior fuel economy.
Though it's the entry-level Lambda, the Traverse doesn't necessarily look it. It shares some handsome styling cues with the well-received Malibu -- such as the split mesh grille outside and the dual-cockpit dash theme inside -- and generally makes a convincing argument for itself. True, it does have some faults, including relatively poor outward visibility and a third-row seat that's not as comfortable as that of the Ford Flex. Nor is it as nimble around town as the Mazda CX-9. But if you're looking for a well-performing people mover that hauls a lot of cargo and doesn't scream "mommy (or daddy) mobile," the Traverse deserves your serious attention.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover SUV available in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. Standard equipment on the LS includes 17-inch steel wheels, eight-passenger seating, split-folding second- and third-row bench seats, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, full power accessories, OnStar and a six-speaker CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The midrange LT trim level is actually comprised of a choice of two sub-trims: the well-equipped 1LT and the more upscale 2LT. The 1LT package offers 18-inch alloy wheels, heated sideview mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear parking sensors. Select the 2LT package and get all that plus tri-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Bose system (with USB port), rear audio system controls, seven-passenger seating (featuring second-row captain's chairs), a power liftgate and a rearview camera integrated into the rearview mirror.
The Traverse LTZ ups the luxury ante with 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats (with driver memory settings), Bluetooth connectivity and remote ignition. Many of the standard features on upper trim levels can be added to the lower ones via optional packages. Other option highlights include a trailering package, a navigation system (with real-time traffic, a rearview camera and a USB port), dual sunroofs and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system (with USB port).
Powertrains and Performance
There is only one engine/transmission combination available for the Chevrolet Traverse -- a 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. In the LS and LT trims, which have a single exhaust system, the V6 produces 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. In the uplevel LTZ, output jumps up to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft thanks to a dual-outlet exhaust.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the front-wheel-drive Traverse are 17 mpg in the city/24 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive Traverse models are very close at 16/23/19 mpg. Properly equipped, the Traverse can tow up to 5,200 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for all three rows are all standard on the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, as is one year of GM's OnStar service, including turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free phone connectivity.
In both frontal- and side-impact crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Traverse received a perfect five-star rating for its protection of occupants in head-on and side-impact collisions. The Traverse also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, where it got the highest rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the Traverse's roomy cabin is an attractive layout in a two-tone color scheme with brushed aluminum and chrome trim. The instrument panel consists of dual gauges featuring bright white numbers on a black background that are simple and easy to read. Minor complaints include a few lower-grade interior plastics and audio and climate controls that consist of too many small and similar-looking buttons.
Depending on the configuration chosen, the Traverse seats either seven (with second-row captain's chairs) or eight (split-folding second-row bench seat) passengers in three rows. The first- and second-row seats are quite comfortable and supportive, and the split-folding third-row seat – which is often a kids-only zone in traditional SUVs -- can accommodate adults in reasonable comfort. Maximum cargo capacity is a generous 117 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down, and even with all three rows of seating in use, there are still a useful 24 cubic feet of luggage space.
Like the other three large General Motors crossovers, the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse hits a happy medium between secure handling and a comfortable ride. However, you'll never forget that it's a big and heavy vehicle (4,925 pounds with all-wheel drive), and it feels a bit more cumbersome to drive than other large crossovers on the market. Opting for the larger 19- or 20-inch wheels can also degrade the Traverse's ride quality. We have no complaints about the 3.6-liter V6, as it provides peppy acceleration in almost all situations. Previously, the six-speed automatic transmission was often reluctant to downshift, but a reprogramming for 2010 has remedied the situation.