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2012 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ Review & Test Drive

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‘FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY’

As the Chevy Traverse enters its fourth year in the market, it continues to be one of the most popular large crossovers, thanks to its balance of efficiency, versatility, spaciousness and safety.  Sales were up more than 23% for the first four months of 2011, with an annual sales rate of more than 108,000 units.

Efficiency in the Traverse comes from a technically advanced 3.6 liter V6 with direct injection technology and continuously variable valve timing (VVT) which is matched with a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission to help it deliver an EPA estimated 24mpg/highway (FWD models)-the best fuel economy of any eight-passenger utility vehicle.

Versatility in the Travers comes from it many different seating and cargo carrying capabilities.  My test LTZ had dual captain’s chairs for the second row but you can also order a three-passenger bench seat.  All second and third row seats, no matter the configuration, can be removed or folded to accommodate different passenger numbers and cargo loading needs.

Speciousness comes from seating up to eight, and with up to 116 cu.ft. of maximum cargo space (second-row seat folded and third-row seat/cargo management system removed), the Traverse offer the most storage capacity of any vehicle in its segment-besting the cargo capacity of the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.

Traverse has a unique profile with a smooth and flowing design that characterizes the global face of Chevrolet.  My LTZ model came with elements such as chrome-ringed grille inserts and large wheel-and-tire combinations, (my LTZ model came with 20X8 inch wheels/tires), highlight the vehicle’s attention to detail on the outside.  Some unique details include deep-set grille inserts with chrome-ringed trim pieces, turn signals integrated in the outside mirrors, a rear spoiler integrated over the power liftgate window, dual, bright wide exhaust outlets, an available panoramic, power operated sunroof, (my model came with the rear DVD entertainment system instead), chrome door handles, outside heated/power-adjustable, power-folding body color sideview mirrors, a chrome strip below both doors, contrasting black full-perimeter bodykit to protect against rocks and other debris, low-profile roof rack rails, and aerodynamic protrusions below the bodykit to enhance airflow.  The exterior styling leaves nothing and its fit and finish are superb.

The Traverse’s interior is spacious and comfortable and perfectly blends refined styling, technology, ergonomics, storage and attention to detail.  The instrument panel has a dual-cockpit design that is a hallmark of Chevrolet’s heritage, while its ‘low and away’ position enhances outward visibility.  I would like to have seen more ‘soft-touch’ materials on the dashboard to really give the Travers a true ‘luxury’ feel.

Three rows of seating is standard on all models, with the second row offered as a bench that seats up to three or a pair of captain bucket seats.  Power-adjustable, perforated heated and cooled leather seating is standard on the LTZ, which is a luxury touch.  Traverse’s second-row Smart Slide seat feature enables easy access to the third-row seats.

Standard interior features on the LTD model include Tri-Zone automatic climate control, AM-FM-CD stereo with MP3 playback capability and Bose 10-speaker sound, a navigation radio system with a USB port and a rear-view camera is optional,  a rear entertainment system with USB port and includes a rear-seat DVD player with remote control, overhead display and two sets of wireless headphone, Sirius XM satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, remote keyless entry, remote vehicle start, a center console with sliding armrest and storage bin, a second-row console is optional, a storage bin on the dashboard shelf, power-windows with front express up/down and second row express down, power door locks, rear cargo storage system, cruise control, tilt/telescopic/leather wrapped steering wheel, grab handles at all passenger door, variable speed, intermittent wipers/washers with a rear wiper/washer, two-driver memory feature for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, dual, light vanity mirrors, dual map pockets behind the front seatbacks, dual map lights, storage slots in each door, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats are what you will find in this LTZ model that I tested.  These interior features on the LTZ model are competitive with any other full-size crossover utility vehicle on the market, but priced thousands of dollars less, another Chevy hallmark.

The Traverse’s 3.6 liter engine’s direct injection and VVT technology helps produce power similar to many V8 engines and uses regular unleaded gasoline.  It is rated at 288hp at 6,300rpm and 270lb.ft. of torque at 3,400rpm with 90% of the engine’s peak torque available from approximately 2,500rpm to more than 6,000rpm.  That’s plenty of power to quickly and safely merge onto fast-moving freeway traffic, easy maneuver around slower city traffic while returning an excellent EPA mileage rating of 17mpg/city and 24mpg/highway.

The 3.6 liter V6 engine is mated to the Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission, an advanced transmission with clutch-to-clutch shift operation for front-and all-wheel-drive models.  It also offers automatic grade braking, shift stabilization and precise shift control.  the available intelligent all-wheel-drive system provides increased traction on slippery roads by actively managing the torque distribution between the front and rear axles, based on factors such as wheel speed, throttle and surface conditions.  There is no driver intervention, the system automatically decides how much torque to apply and delivers it to the wheels that have the best traction.  I would recommend the AWD system to consumers who live in areas that get high levels of snow or rain to enhance their ability to safety drive their Traverse to and from home.

The Traverse rides on a long 118.9 inch wheelbase, with a wide 67.8 inch front track and a 67.4 inch rear track-a combination that lowers the center of gravity and enables a smooth, stable ride and handling characteristics much like driving a full-size sedan.

Up front is an independent MacPherson strut setup with a direct-acting stabilizer bar, aluminum knuckles, coil springs, and a full-perimeter isolated cradle to help reduce noise and vibration.  The rear independent setup uses a compact, linked ‘H’ arm design with coil springs, twin-tube, gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar and an isolated mounting system to further reduce noise and vibration transmitted into the passenger compartment.

The power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is standard, with variable-effort optional.  It gives a great feel for the road, has a very good on-center feel and transmits your steering inputs very quickly and precisely.

Quickly and safely slowing this large CUV down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, while 13 inch vented discs in the rear are clamped with single-piston calipers.  Standard ABS, Rear Brake Proportioning and BA further enhance your braking control and power.

Like I said earlier, my LTD test model came shod with 20X8 inch cast aluminum wheels wrapped with 255/55R20 inch all-season radial tires that enhance grip, traction and stability.

Out in the marketplace of full-size CUV’s you have a hard time topping the styling, interior and mechanical virtues mentioned above in the 2012 Chevy Travers LTZ. That also includes standard safety features that also make the new Chevy Traverse very safe for all passengers.  Starting with a strong body structure to absorb crash energy and provide a protective ‘safety cage’ around all occupants because the structure is reinforced in numerous areas with high-strength steel, including a stiff cross-car beam welded across the floor between the B-pillars.  It also uses dual-phase steel in select areas, such as the lower engine compartment rails.  Dual-phase steel is strengthened in the paint oven and offers easier formability, reduced mass, greater strength and better crash energy absorption than most high-strength steels.

Other safety systems include 6-months OnStar with automatic crash response, driver/front passenger airbags, front side impact airbags, rear child security locks, tire pressure monitoring, 3-point safety belts for all passengers with front pretensioners/load limiters, stabilitrak stability control with traction control, and the Pass Key 3 engine immobilizer theft deterrent system.

The new 2012 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ crossover vehicle is truly one of the best on the market for all purposes of use with the highest degree of safety systems.

COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Traverse LS MSRP $29,430 / LTZ MSRP $38,805
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6 288 horsepower @ 6300 rpm / 270 ft-lbs. torque @ 3400 rpm
  • Total length: 205in.
  • Total width: 78.4in.
  • Total height: 72.8 with roof rails
  • Turning circle: 40.4ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,720lbs. FWD
  • Legroom: f/m/r-41.3/36.8/33.2in.
  • Headroom: f/m/r-40.4/39.4/37.8in.
  • EPA cargo: all-seats folded-153.1/second-row folded-68.8/behind third-row-24.4cu.ft.
  • Fuel tank: 22-gallons
  • Maximum towing: 5,200lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.6 seconds

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