It happens to the best of us.
You wake up one day, look around and there's a spouse, a kid and even a small mammal running around and shedding those golden locks that the expensive pet food promised would be shiny. And then you look to the driveway and there — sitting as it has for weeks — is the sports car. The one you wanted since high school. You know, the black one with the big wheels. It's collecting dust while the minivan racks up more miles than an Amtrak train. Time to put 'er out to pasture, or at least in storage until the nest is empty.
We've had a similar epiphany. Looking down our list of Long-Term Road Test cars — coupe, coupe, foreign, pretentious sedan, racecar and even a 20-year-old Miata — there is precious little to support our growing families and our readers' growing interest in "real cars." We need another three-row crossover. We need something we trust.
And while there are plenty of alternatives when you choose a crossover with three rows of seats, one struck us as a pure practical choice, both comfortably full-size and just plain comfortable: the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ.
Plus we could get a screamin' deal on one.
Why We Got It
Done gasping yet? Of course you're raving, "But it's the same as the 2008 Buick Enclave you already had for a long-term test!" But it turns out that there have been some significant changes to GM's Lambda-platform crossover since then. Thanks to direct injection, the Traverse's V6 now makes 288 horsepower instead of 275, while torque output has swollen to 270 pound-feet from 250 lb-ft. There are other key differences, like the Skyscape sunroof that's $1,400 in the 2010 Chevy while it was $1,300 in the 2008 Buick. Big things, really.
OK, so we just needed something with three rows of seats. Something we'd put miles on comfortably and consistently, something that wouldn't be in the shop or look out of place at a parent-teacher conference. We needed a grown-up car and Chevy had a good one.
And there's always the opportunity to compare and contrast it to our 2009 Ford Flex Limited.
What We Got
Our 2010 Chevrolet Traverse is optioned with the LTZ package, so it's a top-of-the-range model with a six-speed transmission, leather upholstery, power-adjusted heated/cooled seats, power liftgate and 20-inch wheels with P255/55R20 107H Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza all-season tires. In front-wheel-drive guise, the Chevy Traverse starts at $29,224. Loaded up with the LTZ package, the Traverse carries an MSRP of $37,985. Just like our Enclave, we ordered up our Traverse in front-wheel drive. If it rains, we'll be fine; if we get 2 feet of snow here in So Cal, well, traction is going to be the least of our worries.
One thing we did want in our Traverse was second-row seating with straight-through access to the rear row, and since there's an optional $300 console that local Chevy dealers like to install, we had to do a bit of shopping to find the vehicle we wanted.
But shopping was part of why we got a Traverse. We knew there was "cash on the hood" and we pay in full, and that goes a long way with a car dealer. We finally found an LTZ without the goofy rear bin, and in a color we could tolerate sitting in. It happened to be at Selman Chevrolet in the city of Orange, California, which is located in (surprise!) Orange County. The MSRP was $42,050 and it was being offered at $39,875. We called and told them we previously owned a Pontiac, so they gave us a discount and then offered another surprise discount. We didn't argue and paid $36,406 before taxes and fees.
The Year of Growing Up
Sure, this 2010 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ isn't sexy, though it's sharp-looking for a large crossover. Neither is it particularly fun to wheel around, but it does its job of hauling people and goods reliably.
It won't be a year of burnouts and racetracks, and that's exactly what we're hoping for.
Current Odometer: 1,616
Best Fuel Economy: 20.9 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 19.0 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 19.6
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.