Patrick J. Sauer is a contributing editor at Inc., where he writes the “Drives” column, and has contributed to ESPN.com, Popular Science, Fast Company, Details and 23/6, the Huffington Post comedy blog. A native of Montana, Sauer now lives in New York City and usually takes the subway.
If 2009 is the year of change, then it’s fair to ask: Will we be driving garbage-fueled hybrids back-and-forth to our solar-powered pods, paid for in full through middle-class tax cuts, by the end of the first 100 days of the Obama administration?
It’s important to remember that “change” tends to come slowly in the auto industry…and just about everywhere else for that matter. Exhibit A, the 2009 Chevy Traverse. The new crossover isn’t going to WOW! anybody, but in the family car scheme of things, it’s not a bad way to tote your daughter’s basketball team to-and-fro.
For starters, the Traverse is big, akin to the missing link between its larger SUV forerunners and its smaller crossover ilk. It’s made for seven passengers, and the lucky two in the middle row get captain’s chairs, which might great for skinny tweens but weren’t really comfortable for bulky adults (this one, anyhow.)
The Traverse I tested was the LTZ, which comes in at $39,810. All three versions feature a 3.6L V-6 engine with the LS and the LT featuring 281hp and 253 lb.-ft. of torque. The LTZ offers 288hp and 288 lb.-ft. of torque and (radio-friendly) hip-hop worthy 20” wheels. The Traverse isn’t going to blow anybody away with it’s power, but then again, it’s not supposed to. The Traverse isn’t a revolution; it’s a small step in the evolution of family motoring. To that end, the important LTZ safety features include a camera display in the corner of the rearview mirror to ensure smooth reversing, and a built-in enhanced blind-spot checker in the side mirror just to be on the safe side.
As for road trips, the Traverse handled the wintry Northeast highways just fine. The wife and I filled it up with holiday gifts and getaway luggage for the icy drive from New York City to Martha’s Vineyard, and barely scratched the invisible surface of cargo space. Lay the seats flat, and the Traverse can open up to a whopping 118 cubic feet, more than enough room to bring your own groceries on a weekend ski trip. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the ride as the Traverse offers enough of the creature comforts to make a road trip bearable. The LTZ has cooled–and more importantly in the subzero Massachusetts temperatures–heated leather seats that can be maneuvered into whatever positions suits you best, I recommend cranking up the lumbar support. The Traverse has XM/Sirius (Is it now Sirixium?) with the first three months free, DVD players for the kids and standard Bluetooth connectivity.
Perhaps the most important element is that the Traverse gets 17/24 mpg, not bad for a vehicle that weighs in at 4,919. No, it’s not the green machine running on grass that we’ve been promised, but let’s give the new guy a few months to get situated. Then we’ll demand our flying cars and fat-free Snickerdoodles!
In the interim, let’s help President Obama out by getting this economy jump-started, maybe even in a new Chevy Traverse. My fellow Americans, gas is averaging $1.80 nationally as we speak. During these times of change, let’s make it our patriotic duty to go somewhere.
Related Chevrolet Traverse Links
The Chevy Traverse [chevrolet.com]
First Drive: 2009 Chevy Traverse [motortrend.com]
Chevy Gets it Right with Traverse [suntimes.com]
Chevy Traverse vs. Toyota Highlander Interior Space [streetfire.net]