2012 Chevrolet Traverse 2LT Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Nice looking Chevy Traverse manages people and cargo almost as well as a minivan. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

The Traverse handles much better than the body-on-frame truck-like SUVs Chevy previously helped to popularize. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Turn signals on the mirror housings are new, and this auto-dimming outside mirror with its handy convex section is a real bonus. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Love the leather seats. They're comfortable and plenty supportive. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Chevrolet is doing a nice job of interiors now, with the Traverse 2LT with leather feeling like a luxury crossover. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Love the optional dual-pane glass sunroof. A rear DVD entertainment system fits neatly in between. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Both rear rows are capable of fitting adults. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

The Traverse is cavernous! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

Published on April 30, 2012

When General Motors dumped its popular minivan line it needed a replacement that would carry as many passengers and haul as much cargo, yet look nothing like a minivan. The Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, and eventually the Chevrolet Traverse crossover SUVs that followed, delivered on that requirement with very little compromise in functionality and a whole lot more style.

For 2012, Chevy hasn't changed the look of the Traverse one iota, which is no doubt a good thing to fans of its tough truck-like grille and sleek car-like body combination. It will abandon the grille's horizontally bisecting body-colour slat as it moves into 2013, and adopt a more conservative new nose seemingly inspired by the brand's Volt electric. Until then, I was provided the current model in attractive Silver Ice Metallic paint and 2LT trim, which now sports new mirror housings with integrated turn signals and driver's side auto-dimming mirror.

Yes, the changes for 2012 are minor, but all that was good about the Traverse when it debuted in 2008 remains good now. Large and comfortable, Chevy's largest crossover SUV can transport up to eight occupants or alternatively its two rear rows of seats can be laid flat to stow a minivan-like 3,297 litres (116.4 cubic feet) of gear! Even if you want to use the second row there's still 1,948 litres (68.8 cubic feet) of available space back there, and with all seats upright there's a lot more cargo room than the average midsize sedan at 691 litres (24.4 cubic feet). It's not quite the size of the legendary Suburban, but most large families will find it amply sized and appreciate its other benefits over a truck-based SUV.  

The most noticeable is handling. A fully independent suspension results in a crossover that tracks well on the highway and takes to the corners with confidence, even on rough uneven pavement, while the ride is quite good. The front suspension is noisier than average over speed bumps, but it all seems to hold together well enough thanks to a rigid body structure that never creeks or groans.

And believe me, I tried to push it to its limits while carrying some heavy loads back and forth to my storage locker. Packed full of furniture it settled evenly over each wheel, the ride even cushier than when unladen, yet body lean during cornering was manageable and braking from its large ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs was progressive and predictable, not grabby as it can be with some. The Traverse I tested wasn't set up with a tow package, but properly equipped it's good for 2,358 kilos (5,200 pounds), so a reasonably sized travel trailer should be no problem at all.

I would have noticed a lack of power while under load too, but the Traverse's standard 3.6-litre V6 showed no hesitation off the line. And that's with the less powerful single-exhaust system, which restricts breathing for a 7 horsepower dip in output resulting in a maximum of 281 horsepower, and a slightly less significant reduction of 4 lb-ft of torque for a total of 266 when compared to the dual-exhaust system found in the Traverse LTZ. Either front- or all-wheel drive can be had with any trim level, mine being the latter, and when combined with the Traverse's standard 6-speed automatic it delivered a smooth, nonchalant easiness that typified this SUV.

Yes, the Traverse is really easy to live with, especially with all the options Chevy included in my tester. 2LT trim adds tri-zone automatic climate control with second- and third-row switchgear, so you'll no longer get complaints from the back about it being too hot or too cold, and that's if they notice anything other than their tunes thanks to separate rear-seat audio controls for the ten-speaker Bose premium audio system. And don't worry, as headphone jacks are included too. I made sure the Traverse's temperature was just right before I even left the house by remembering to click the remote starter. My 2LT also had a convenient powered liftgate, while an auto-dimming rearview mirror is always nice and its new driver's side auto-dimming mirror was a real bonus. The rearview mirror incorporates a handy backup camera too, while the outside mirrors are heated as well, and there's a nifty little convex spotter mirror that was ideal for eyeing movement beyond the main mirror's perimeter. Rearward visibility is not a problem.

That driver's side mirror is part of the 1LT upgrade, a trim level that really should include the Bluetooth connectivity setup that only comes with the 2LT package. I'm pushing for automakers to include Bluetooth as part of their standard safety systems, in a hope to get people concentrating less on their phones and more on the road ahead. The Traverse's Bluetooth system was ultra-easy to set up and worked faultlessly throughout the week, so kudos to Chevy for that. Additional 1LT features that also come as part of the 2LT package include variable-assist power steering via a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, 8-way power adjustable front seats, a driver information centre, body-colour mouldings, 18-inch alloys on 255/65R18 all-seasons, and more.

OnStar with Turn-by-Turn Navigation was on my tester too, but it's standard across the Traverse line, as are all the expected powered accessories, plus automatic headlamps, a tilt and telescopic steering column, a handy front centre console, useful LED reading lamps, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with XM satellite radio that sounds pretty good, comfortable cloth seats, and the list goes on. If you want luxuries like heated and cooled perforated leather seats, DVD-based navigation, power-folding mirrors, 20-inch chrome rims, etc., you'll have to move up to the top-line LTZ model.

My tester included an optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system bookended by the twin-panel Dual SkyScrape glass sunroof, the rear one panoramic in size. The kids loved both, while I particularly liked the upgrade to black leather seats. The Cargo Convenience package was included too, with its cargo net and roll-up cargo cover, much needed in crime ridden Vancouver. Nicely outfitted, my Traverse 2LT snuck under the $50k threshold at $48,905 including shipping, which seems like pretty good value for what is essentially a luxury SUV, less the premium name. If you don't need all the goodies, pricing for the Traverse starts at $37,405, freight in.
My only complaint? It's thirsty. Not as bad as a big V8-powered truck-based SUV like its Suburban sibling, but amongst seven 7-occupant crossover rivals in all-wheel drive trim, only two suffer from estimated fuel economy ratings that are poorer than the Traverse's 13.1 city and 8.8 highway rating. I noticed this at the pump, and with fuel prices expected to rise past the already extreme $1.40-plus per litre many Canadians are being asked to pay now, this is something Chevy will want to address with the updated 2013 model; although it appears the same powertrain will carry forward.

If you don't mind paying a little more for fuel, the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse is an excellent choice for large families who need minivan-like seating and cargo flexibility yet don't want the negative stigma that goes along with that ultimately practical genre.

The Traverse is a winner in almost every way.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Chevrolet, 2012, Traverse, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999,

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