Chevy Traverse Reviewed by CC!

January 7th, 2009

OMG!!!!!

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back before Thanksgiving, Brenda was contacted by GM to see if she was interested in driving their new crossover vehicle. She said no thanks, she loves her car too much…but she was pretty sure her sister-in-law wouldn’t mind, since there are multiple vehicles parked in my yard that are not running and holiday travel plans were looming. After a few emails back and forth a decision was made to put me in the driver’s seat of the brand-new Chevy Traverse LTZ for a week. In my opinion that is just not fair. I mean, we all know that a week isn’t nearly long enough when playing with a new toy. 

2009 Chevy Traverse LTZ

I am not a minivan mom, so the first thing I did was look up the Traverse on Chevy’s website. It is one very sweet-looking car. It’s got great lines inside and out. This may seem silly but one of the things I hate about minivans are those tacky plastic shields that usually run along the bottom. They were smart and kept the plastic shields to a minimum. I watched every video they had about the car on their site and learned something interesting: the Traverse is the first car that Chevy has had women lead the design team. This car wasn’t just built for moms; it was built by moms. That pretty much means the Traverse is a fully-loaded, blinged-out, mom-friendly, kid-approved vehicle. Sign me up!

I love this car!!!

They dropped the car off just before it started to rain on the Monday before Thanksgiving. We met them in the driveway and Bug (who I was babysitting) and SuperChic were begging to go for a drive before I could even sign my life away on the dotted line. The drop-off guy asked if I wanted a tour. I usually prefer to play around with things on my own but this car was a whole new ball game, so I said yes. When the tour was over he gave me a piece of paper and said, “Give this to the cop if you get pulled over.” Not in case of an accident, but if I got pulled over for speeding. He knew I had to test the car’s get-up-and-go. I’m happy to say it does 0-60mph quickly, quietly, and with little effort. It also corners well and handles curves like a car, unlike most SUVs.

Anyway! This car has a lot of features (see bulleted list in the extended entry) and he went over every single one of them with me! My job, if I chose to accept it, was to try to use every single feature. The GM guy left with a wave and we were on our own.

Going home

I managed to pack two kids, a dog kennel, three suitcases, a laptop bag, my sewing machine, a rifle, three handguns, an old-fashioned porta-crib, and our winter coats into the back and had no complaints. The girls loved the captain seats in the middle row. They had plenty of space and of course the DVD player sweetened the deal. There was plenty of storage in the middle row, including a perfect little compartment for the girls’ MP3 players (which could be plugged into the rear console or the front one) and the remote for the DVD player. A larger compartment for DVD storage and the wireless headsets kept everything nice and neat. Well, as neat as 10 1/2- and 6-year-old girls can keep things.

Control

For when I want to be tortured

The sun and moon roofs were fun to play with, especially when trying to get the kids’ attention away from the DVD player (though pausing a movie from the front controls worked pretty well for that too). I really liked the simplicity of using the window controls while going down the road. They were easy to find and operate, unlike some cars I’ve driven. My only complaint about the windows is that at speeds over 40mph there was a lot of wind noise. A shield over the front lip of the window would have been a nice feature to avoid the excess noise.

wingle wangle

Driving is fun, but driving on the freeway with blind spots is not. Luckily, those mom designers thought about this and added a cool little bubble type mirror to each side mirror. These blind-spot mirrors show you vehicles as they enter your blind spot. So essentially there is no blind-spot with the Traverse. We had been trying to figure out what the little mirror was for, because it was pretty much showing nothing but the curb. Finally the light bulb came on over my head and I figured it out as I was getting on the freeway at 60mph.

It was so cool I had Shawn watch his mirror so he could see it work too. He was not as impressed, saying he’d figured that’s what it was for, but I don’t believe him. He was just being a guy and not admitting that he didn’t know something.

The only other blind spot I would say this car has is the front pillars. For me they are not a problem, but then I regularly drive my mother-in-law’s Honda Pilot so I’m used to it. Changing from a car to a cross-over vehicle would probably be more challenging, but it’s easy enough to get used to. Being short of stature, I tend to find blind spots on vehicles that other people don’t notice.

The rear window is smaller than most SUV-type vehicles, slightly limiting your field of vision when backing up. The optional rear sensors and camera took me a little while to get used to. Especially since they beeped at me every time I backed out of our gate. I really liked this function, because if your kid (or in our case, one of the dogs) decides to run behind the car and she is shorter than the back window, the sensor beeps and the camera highlights whoever is closer to you than is safe.

However, do not rely on the camera to back up. You cannot accurately gauge distance with it. And in the rain, forget about it.  We found that when it’s raining hard, the backing-up sensors can’t accurately read distance. I imagine the technology is similar to what cops use to measure speeding cars. You don’t often see cops “taking pictures” in the rain, probably for the same reason. But I wouldn’t know. I’m not an expert on radar.

With or without sensors, the Traverse parked like a dream. It had a great turning radius and slid easily into any parking spot. Adding a few sensors to the front bumpers would have been nice. The front end slopes enough that you can’t actually see the front of the car. In tight situations this can be a little nerve-racking. More than once I got out of the car, looked at how much room I had between me and the front of the parking spot, got back in, and then finished parking. After having the car a few months, I’m sure this wouldn’t be such a problem. 

Jam

enjoyed driving the Traverse, even in traffic. After the trip to my parents’ house, we went home for a day and then headed to the beach for our second Thanksgiving. Which brings me another feature I really appreciated: the navigation system.

It was nice knowing that if I got off at the wrong exit, I didn’t have to figure out which way was west and keep heading in that direction until I recognized something. I do not have a good sense of direction. I once got off on the right street, in the wrong city. Yeah. Even though my husband was in the car with me and he knows the route to SAJ’s by heart, it was nice having a visual reminder for myself.

I highly recommend setting your destination on any trip, even if you know the route by heart.  You don’t have to have the map fully displayed but if there is some kind of traffic alert ahead, or you try to get off on the right street but in the wrong city, you’ll know about it. This only works when you have a destination set before you leave. You can look for places near where you are going while driving, but you can’t set an exact address. So set your destination, ok? Ok.

I know what you’re all dying to know and I’m getting there. You want to know what’s under the hood. You’ll laugh when I tell you. Really, you will. Are you ready?

blocked by the shield!

It’s a big plastic shield. Yep, that’s right: a shield. It’s every guy’s worst nightmare, to get a new car and not be able to show off its parts to all his buddies. (That is a concept I don’t get. To me, it seems kinda like a guy’s girl getting new boobs and him telling his friends to take a peek.) You should have seen the faces Shawn and Tom made when I popped the hood and they were met with a big old black shield. They couldn’t examine the Traverse’s parts. They were very disappointed. Honestly, I was too. I’m married to a mechanic and if my parents would have let me, I totally would have taken auto shop in high school instead of accounting.

For those women who get overwhelmed and a little panicky when their husband asks them if they checked the oil, this is perfect. It’s easy to locate the dipstick and the windshield-wiper fluid reservoir, because everything else is covered.  And if by some chance you happen to kill the battery and need a jump, there are special posts to hook the jumper cables up to. No more trying to find a ground and figure out what goes where.

The only feature that really annoyed me was when I changed the mirror setting to look at the ground when backing up. It’s cool for parallel parking but not cool when trying to back out of the driveway. Luckily, it’s a setting you can have on/off or on only one mirror or both.

kid approved

All in all this is a great car.  Have I said that already? Probably, but it really is. In a few years when the economy is better and I can (hopefully) afford it,  I’ll be back to take it for a spin and see what’s changed. But if I won the lottery, I’d definitely be on my way to the nearest dealership today.

 
And now all the bullets! I told you this car is loaded.

  • Rear entertainment system with two wireless headsets that only work in the back seat.
  • Bose audio system. This means it sounds good when played loud.
  • Leather seats
  • Heated & air-conditioned front seats. Which Shawn turned on without me knowing and sat there waiting. He got what he wanted when I very suddenly I yelled, “Hey, why is my butt burning and don’t even think of turning on the ac part now.”
  • XM satellite radio. All Christmas music all the time.
  •  DVD loads into CD player in front console
  • Touch screen navigation system
  • On-Star
  • Bluetooth for more than one phone. Voice activated if your phone is capable. It is also crystal clear from any point in the car. The person you’re talking to can hear someone in the third row without them yelling. 
  • Driver seat position memory for two people.
  • Tri-zone climate control. Dual-controls for the front and separate controls for the back.
  • 110V outlet on the back of the center console
  • 2 cup holders in the front, 6 in the middle, and two in the back
  • Latch system
  • Remote start.
  • Engine block heater
  • Ultrasonic rear parking assistant. Radar in the rear bumper.
  • Rearview camera system
  • Airbags, everywhere
  • Rear powered liftgate
  • Heated windshield washer fluid
  • Mirrors heat up to get rid of frost, tilt for parking/backing, and fold in for parking, automatically. If you set it to.
  • 20”wheels
  • 3.6L V6
  • Dual Exhaust
  • 6 speed transmission
  • Antilock brakes, Stabilitrack
  • Blind-spot mirror
  • Front sun roof and rear moon roof

 

16 Responses to “Chevy Traverse Reviewed by CC!”

  1. lynne Says:

    What a wonderful woman friendly car review. If this car was available in the UK and I could drive, you would have sold it to me.

  2. Jeanmarie Says:

    You did a great job reviewing this vehicle – I have worked in the car industry for 15 years and have been a mom for 10 – you covered everything either part of me would want to know about :-)

  3. Ninotchka Says:

    Great job on the review. Sounds like a very nice alternative to the mini-van.

  4. Kimberly Says:

    I bought a car earlier this year after a lot of (obsessive) research. I wish I’d been able to find reviews written like this one. You covered the info I wanted to know about and in an easy to digest way. Nice job. And you made the car sound great!

  5. amber d. Says:

    Great review. I drive a Uplander but we be interested in looking at this next time I’m ready for a trade in!

  6. Denise Says:

    Nice ride! Thanks for the great review.

  7. Busy Mom Says:

    I want! I’m traveling next week and I wish I had something fun like this!

  8. Richard Kimball Says:

    Nice car, all tricked out with the latest geewhiz features. I just took my daughter’s VW Passat in for an oil change at a quick-lube joint only to learn that changing the oil in one of these is a job reserved for a VW mechanic with special tools and lots of patience. I asked if all imported cars were this hard to work on, and was told that, yes, most are at least this hard with Volvo and Saab on the extreme high end of the difficulty scale.

    Well, I’ve owned GMC vehicles since 1989. The old GMC Jimmy was a cinch to work on. The newer GMC Sierra is more difficult, but still relatively easy. For routine maintenance neither requires exotic tools. As far as features go, neither has many, which means there are fewer things to go wrong.

    I don’t understand why GM products (or those of the other two American manufacturers) are not in high demand all over the world, but if we’re only going to sell American cars to Americans, I have a suggestion: always produce models that DON’T have a bejillion moving parts and plastic shields and room under the hood only for nanobots. ALWAYS make a model that is intended to run well for 15 years. If GM keeps at least the tippiest tip of one tiptoe grounded in reality, it won’t have a thing to worry about. Let the rest of the world buy cars with a GPS so they don’t get lost on the way to WalMart.

  9. patois Says:

    What a great review. Definitely sounds like a vehicle my family would like. I’m in the market for a new one toward the end of this year. Doubt I could afford it, but I can dream.

  10. mamalang Says:

    I have new car buying in my short term (less than 2 years) future, I think. This could be a good car for me…great review.

    I have a chevy HHR right now, and under our hood looks like that as well. The battery is actually in the back of the car, so we can jump another car from the front or the back of a vehicle, which is great for those side of the road things. Of course, I haven’t had to worry about that, but peace of mind if I did is okay, too.

  11. Sharon Says:

    This looks very cool. If I could afford it, I would love to have one.

  12. Conversion Vans Says:

    It is a nice review. Unfortunatley this model is NOT selling well and could end up like many new models… dead in a couple of years. That always puts a damper on resell value. I’m personally a van man, but nothing of note has been coming out of the industry for vans. Crossover seems to be the Marketers word of choice. I remember back in the 70′s when we called them what they were – “Station Wagons”.

  13. mark Says:

    Thanks for the review!

  14. Jenny in Ca Says:

    nice review! I just test drove one of these today, I’m ready to downsize a little from my giant astro van..but I need at least 7 seats so I am limited. I enjoyed the ride, just looking now to see if there are any downsides to this- I really liked the extra gizmos in this, my astro is very bare-bones. I agree with conversion van..it does look like a larger station wagon a little, shudder…but my only other options are really big and expensive.

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