What's New for 2012
There are no significant changes for the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse.
While the average American family has 2.6 kids, sometimes you end up with a Brady Bunch-sized clan. If you can relate, and you need something bigger than the typical midsize sedan to cart around your brood, the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse is worth a look.
One of the best modern family haulers to come out in the last few years, the Traverse is a large crossover that boasts a refined ride and an enormous cabin that can fit as many as eight adults. Thanks to its carlike unibody architecture, it's lighter and more maneuverable than traditional SUVs like Chevy's Tahoe. The Traverse has other advantages as well, including more interior space than other competing crossovers, decent fuel economy and top crash test scores.
It's important to note, however, that the 2012 Traverse is actually one of three vehicles GM sells with this body style and 288-horsepower V6. The Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia differ in styling, interior design, some feature availability and the quality of some cabin materials, but otherwise they are mechanically identical. As for picking one, it really comes down to price, style and which dealer treats you best.
The Traverse does have some downsides. It's not as easy to drive or see out of as slightly smaller competitive crossovers. As such, you might be inclined to check out the more athletic Mazda CX-9 or our top choice, the well-rounded Ford Flex. Also worth noting are the Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer; they don't offer quite as much interior space as any of the above models, but each is certainly desirable in its own right.
All these choices may make your family hauler search a little tougher. But if Marcia, Greg, Peter, Jan, Bobby, Cindy, Mike and Carol all need to fit into one vehicle, the Traverse should work out well. You just won't be able to bring Alice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, full power accessories, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
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, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Select the 2LT and you'll get all that plus an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, a power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, remote ignition, seven-passenger seating (featuring second-row captain's chairs), a rearview camera (integrated into the rearview mirror) and a 10-speaker Bose sound system with a USB/iPod interface and rear audio system controls.
The Traverse LTZ ups the luxury ante with 20-inch wheels, power-folding mirrors, leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated front seats with driver memory functions. Some of the standard features on upper trim levels can be added to the lower ones via option packages. Other highlights from the add-ons list include a navigation system, dual sunroofs and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
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. Front-wheel drive or an available all-wheel-drive system round out the powertrain details.
In the LS and LT trims, the V6 produces 281 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. In the more upmarket LTZ, output jumps to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft thanks to a dual-outlet exhaust. In our performance testing, a Traverse 2LT posted a sufficiently quick 0-60-mph time of 8.6 seconds; the LTZ did it in 8.2. Properly equipped, the Traverse will tow a respectable 5,200 pounds.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the front-wheel-drive Traverse are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive Traverse models are very close at 16/23/19 mpg.
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 2012 Chevrolet Traverse, as is GM's OnStar telematics service, including turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free phone connectivity. In Edmunds brake testing, a Traverse LTZ came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet; a Traverse 2LT with smaller tires did it in 135 feet. These distances are acceptable, but most competitors perform better.
In government crash tests, the Traverse earned a top five-star rating for overall performance, with four out of five stars being given for overall front-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Traverse also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, where it got the highest rating of "Good" in all frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
When it comes to keeping you and your passengers happy, the interior of the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse has a lot to offer. The design is attractive and, aside from tiny audio and climate control buttons, the layout of gauges and controls makes sense.
The passenger cabin offers seating for either seven passengers with the second-row captain's chairs or eight with the 60/40-split-folding second-row bench seat. Both arrangements provide good comfort for first- and second-row passengers. Even the third-row seats are adult-friendly, though buyers who expect to carry a full load of grown-ups regularly should know the Ford Flex feels more spacious back there for two people because of its boxy profile.
When it comes time to load the Traverse up for a road trip, you'll find a healthy 24 cubic feet of suitcase space behind the third-row seat. For larger loads, fold both the second- and third-row seats down and you get a flat load floor and an impressive 116 cubic feet of cargo room. To get more cargo room, you'd have to buy a minivan or a Suburban.
The 2012 Chevrolet Traverse provides a nice balance between secure handling and a comfortable ride. It's also a much nicer and easier vehicle to drive than a traditional SUV like the Tahoe. That said, the Traverse is still a beefy vehicle, and most competing crossover SUVs are a bit more agile and easier to see out of. We have no complaints about the 3.6-liter V6, as it provides willing acceleration in almost all situations and achieves pretty good fuel economy.