In both size and capability, the Traverse bridges the gap between the Tahoe and the Equinox. It has a standard split-folding third row -- only suitable for children or small adults -- and, when fitted with the second-row bench, can seat up to eight people. A second row with captain's chairs divided by a storage bin drops seating to seven. In terms of capability, the Traverse will likely satisfy the needs of most people. One area where the Traverse comes up short in comparison with the larger body-on-frame Tahoe and Suburban is in towing, but for most people the more fuel-efficient Traverse is the better bet and nicer to drive as well. It is available with the same amenities as those big SUVs, such as a power liftgate, a rearview camera, a Bose stereo, and navigation, plus it can be similarly dressed up with optional eighteen- or twenty-inch wheels or chrome dual-exhaust pipes. The dual exhaust has the added benefit of increasing the output of the 3.6-liter V-6 to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The Traverse's cabin has the same dual-cockpit layout as the smaller Equinox, with a sweeping dash, rich material color choices, and cool blue accent lighting. Its siblings, the GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave, are trimmed in nicer materials and have more stylized exteriors, but the Traverse undercuts the prices of those vehicles by thousands of dollars with comparable standard equipment. Even when compared with fresher competitors, such as the Ford Explorer or the Honda Pilot, the Traverse holds up well in terms of style, quality, and value.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: LS, LT, LTZ
Body style: SUV/crossover, 7- or 8-passenger
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 281/288 hp, 266/270 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 153.1 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 5200 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 24.2/68.8/116.4 cu ft
The Traverse receives only minor changes for 2012. LTZ and 2LT models have standard heated, power-adjustable, power-folding body-color exterior mirrors, and the driver's-side mirror is auto-dimming. When optioned with the rearview camera system, 1LT models are also equipped with these mirrors. Dark silver metallic and crystal red exterior paint colors will be available later in the model year.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. A backup camera and front and rear parking sensors are optional. For the first six months, OnStar includes a system that alerts first responders when onboard vehicle sensors detect that an accident has occurred.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 16-17 mpg city/23-24 mpg highway
- Third-row seat
Excellent alternative to big, truck-based SUVs
You Won't Like
- Slightly bland looks
Needs an exterior refresh
A roomy, capable, and reasonably priced alternative to less economical truck-based sport-utes.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Explorer