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2012 Chevrolet Traverse Road Test Review - Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 SUV Buyer's Guide

2012 Chevy Traverse Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 SUV Buyer's Guide - Road & Travel's Top 10 Picks

Acura RDX

Honda Pilot

Buick Enclave

Hyundai Veracruz

Ford Explorer

Subaru Tribeca

If one thinks of the wealth of sport utility vehicles available today, it's easy to see what's been prompting the growing lack of interest in some other categories, such as minivans. Many SUVs now get the designation of cute SUV or crossover for their cushier, more comfort prone character. Others remain sports focused and capable of heftier chores. Some like the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse sport utility vehicle do a good job of combining both talents. And for good reason. Not only will the Traverse haul as many as eight in comfort and let everyone arrive in a good frame of mind, but it lets the crew inside pull a boat or moderate sized trailer behind on the trip. We call that multi-tasking in style.

The Traverse has been on scene since Chevy set it loose four years ago and has had plenty of takers. Not only has it offered the kind of interior room desired from a large utility vehicle with sufficient engine power, but has put out fuel economy numbers better than some competitors, a plus with current escalating fuel prices.

The Traverse has minor changes for the 2012 model year meant to add some refinements without major changes.  Those include two new exterior colors: Dark Silver Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat. The LTZ model gets outside heated power-adjustable, power-folding mirrors that are body-color that automatically dim on the driver's side with the glare from another vehicle's headlamps. The
2LT gets manual fold, heated and power adjustable outside mirrors in body color that also has integrated turn indicators. Those are included on 1LT models ordered with the available rearview camera system.

One size doesn't fit all with the Traverse. There are the base LS, mid-range LT1 and LT2 versions, and top-line LTZ to choose from. All models can come in front or all-wheel drive.

Chevy left behind any reminiscences about its former minivan-style vehicles when it designed the Traverse. Despite its large size, it maintains a clean, athletic but not brute appearance that seems handsomely just right. A rising beltline to the rear liftgate and lower cladding follow functionality without being boring. The dual Chevy grille is good looking without being overdone.

Inside is a handsome “dual cockpit” instrument panel. Among available techy interior features: Three-zone climate control, navigation radio system with XM “NavTraffic,” rearview camera system, USB port and available Bose 10-speaker sound. LT and LTZ trim levels can add a rear entertainment system with overhead display and remote controlled DVD. With a capability of flattening both second and third row seating, storage for sports gear or even furniture purchases is ample.

The Traverse gets its grunt ability from its 281 (or 288 with dual exhaust)-horsepower 3.6-liter, advanced V-6 powerplant mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Chevy claims the 24-MPG highway rating is the best for any eight passenger sport utility vehicle. According to Chevy, the Traverse can tow as much as 5,200 pounds when properly fitted and can travel as many as 500 miles before needing a fill up, although we doubt those are simultaneous. Four wheel independent suspension keeps driving manners under control.

With safety a major concern for families. The Traverse keeps the standard high and is loaded with safety equipment and systems. It has earned a top, five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NFTSA) and the current generation won a top safety pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology including traction control, standard on all models, is one of the factors.

If a Traverse is on your wish list, base pricing ranges from $30K to $40K, for front drive models. All Wheel Drive jacks that up about $2,000 more. But it gives purchasers plenty to play with.  For example, with this vehicle Chevy dubs the “dadmobile” one can remotely start the engine using an Android or iPhone and GM's OnStar service's mobile app. The smart phone also can lock or unlock doors remotely and do a health checkup on Traverse systems. How can that kind of stuff be beat for cool dads, and for cool moms?

For more info on Chevy brands, click here.