This week we bring you something a little different as we offer a RoundAbout-style NY Auto Show wrap up. We’ll go through all the big reveals and announcements coming out of New York this year. So join us as we give you all the info you need to know.
It’s taken us quite a while to get around to writing up the review for the Chevy Traverse, not because it was a bad, not at all, it was really competent, which we will talk about shortly here, it’s just that we had this over Christmas and, well, it got shuffled around with other “things” going on.
The Traverse slots in nicely within “The New GM” because with one model it really takes the place of two outgoing models, and can almost displace a third. Outgoing at Chevrolet are the minivan and the Trailblazer, and in slots the Traverse. The third slot it almost takes is Tahoe. I know that comment borders on heresy but hear me out.
With three rows of seats, all with good leg room, this vehicle has the people hauling capacity of the minivan. It has more interior room than the Trailblazer, and with a towing capacity of 5200 pounds it can take the lighter towing duties of the Tahoe. Some will say, that nothing can replace the solidity of a full frame, rear drive SUV like the Tahoe for towing, and, for larger objects they are correct. But if what all you are doing is hauling jetski’s, small boats, motorcycles, and even small campers, the Traverse is more than capable of getting that job done, without the penalties of size and fuel mileage of the Tahoe.
If there was one thing that really stood out to us about the Traverse was just how cavernous the interior was. The overall size of the vehicle was not small, but by no means did it appear, from the outside, close to the size of a traditional full sized SUV. Once inside, however, that all changes. Much like the Ford Flex, once you are sitting in the drivers seat, the third row may as well be in another zip code! To demonstrate just how large the interor is, lets take a look at some video we shot when we picked up our English Mastiff from the kennel. Just to give you some scale Lola is 32” tall at the sholders and weighs about 135 pounds. The third row seats are folded down here, but the second row seats are up.
As you can see she has a tremendous amount of room back there. There was enough room that if we had another English Mastiff, both could have fit back there with room to spare. This may be a bit of an extreme example but the point is, for the rest of the world, there should be no space issues if you have to take a couple of the kids with you shopping at your favorite big box retailer. You can fit them, their “stuff”, all your shopping, and probably have room left over.
Being that we had this over Christmas, and we had to go out of town to visit relatives, we had plenty of opportunity to experience how this Crossover eats up highway miles. We put well over 500 highway miles on the review unit and never had any complaints as to the quality of the ride, handling or the interior noise. It may not be tomb like quite in the interior, but we had no objectionable wind or road noise and you could carry on a converation in a normal tone of voice.
EPA mileage estimates for the Traverse are 17 city and 24 highway. We got about 23 on the highway, which given that it was winter and temps were just into the double digits Fahrenheit is reasonable. It’s even more so when you consider that our front wheel drive 3.6L V6 has a curb weight of 4700 pounds. The 3.6L V6 is the same basic direct injection unit found in other GM cars such as the Cadillac CTS and the Buick LaCrosse. In this application, it’s tuned a bit differently to produce 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Accelleration is fine, both for normal driving and for any passing or on/off ramp needs. The six speed transmission is unobtrusive, never feeling that it was ever hunting for the right gear.
If there was one thing we had an issue with in the Traverse it was the dash materials. Our loaded Front Drive 2LT model stickered for $39,580, close enough to call it forty grand. In 2010 there is no reason that a $40,000 vehicle should have a dash made intirely out of hard plasic materials, it’s out of place. If you have a look at two, of what the Traverse’s competitors are likely to be, the Ford Flex and the Toyota Highlander, you will find their cockpits nearly devoid of hard plastic materials. They have a few bits here and there, but not the entire dash area. All I can think is that some “Old GM” finance people got out the red pen and objected to the extra $200 in costs it would have been to use materials that would have brought the cabin to at least the levels of Ford and Toyota, if not excede them.
Perhaps those of you with children can tell me that I’m wrong, and that when you are hauling them around to their various activites hard plastic is preferable, but we don’t see it. All we can hope is that as GM’s fortunes improve post bankrupcy, that there is some money available for a mid-cycle refresh to take care of this.
As we said in the opening the Traverse is a solid, competent vehicle that can haul people, cargo and even tow. Mileage is reasonable and the decptive physical size of it hides a huge interior. Even priced out at $40,000 we don’t think is bad value for money give what it can do. It does miss on a few things that can be easily remedied, and if done, there is no reason this can’t go toe to toe with anything else out there in it’s market segment.
Tonight we’re together again as spring has finally sprung in the Motor City, and one of the cars that is putting a spring in our step is the just-launched 2011 Mustang. By all accounts, this is a car that can do no wrong: great power, great fuel efficiency and great fun. So, how did Ford do it? To answer that question we’ve asked Dave Pericak, the Chief Engineer of the Mustang to take a seat on the AAH sofa and spill the beans. Of course, we’ll also be getting into the news of the week including the announcements coming out of the NY Auto Show. John McElroy’s in studio with David Welch from BusinessWeek and Bloomberg News and they welcome an AAH newcomer, Reilly Brennan from AOL Autos.