The new Chevrolet Traverse LTZ AWD
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Published on Sat, Mar 9, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
THE 2013 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE AWD LTZ By Zoran Segina The first thing that catches the eye of the newly revised 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is its nice angular look, accentuated by the tinted passenger windows. A dual chrome accented twin exhaust signals an aggressive SUV, as opposed to a disguised soccer mom minivan transporter. The lower section of the split front fascia houses fog lights, and the overall SUV motive is reinforced by Bridgestone mud and snow tires, rhomboid exterior rear view mirrors, and a roof railing ready for loads. Inside, the surfaces of our premium LTZ AWD model are a pleasant combination of dark and light color interplay with stitching from the A pillars around the doors and faux wood accents on center console and on the door handles. The ventilation controls are centered on the dashboard and there are recessed lights behind metal accents. Behind the shifter are large cup holders and a covered section for small items. The center console houses the navigation screen and the right elbow rest can be slid back for storage access. Doors contain generous pocket for bottles and more small items, and the glove compartment is large. The leather-covered wheel has cruise control to the left and radio and volume control to the right. A convenient yellow pilot light above the rear view mirror illuminates the center console should one need to hunt for keys and small objects in the dark. Despite being tall, heavy and large, Traverse handles well. A high seating position and a wide windshield allows for good overall visibility and the driver can anticipate the changes in traffic. A rear view camera with positional direction tracking, and yellow blinking lights to warn of the cars approaching in the blind spot helps the driver navigate the Traverse with ease. The turning radius is surprisingly tight for a vehicle of this size. It is unfortunate that a plastic cover under the front bumper (installed to improve the aerodynamics) scrapes against the inclines – such as a steeper driveway.
The main drawback is the 3.6 liter V6 engine. The car has reasonably good pep, but to generate its power and torque, the engine has to rev uncomfortably high. RPM rates in the mid-4000s are not uncommon during more spirited accelerations. This not only makes annoying sounds, it probably doesn’t help much in the fuel economy department. The consumption during our test hovered at 14.7 miles per gallon overall. The Traverse is nimble for its size and can be driven aggressively, if one does not mind the falling needle of the fuel gauge. First time users—those without preconceived notions about GM products—will like the minivan utility and the SUV capability in a single package. While the electrically powered seats offer multiple adjustments, I found it needing more cushion. The Tall Girl, on the other hand, found it very comfortable. Front seat belts are height-adjustable, and the first two rows are equipped with captain’s chairs. Heating was disappointing. On a chilly evening, the cold air continued to permeate the cabin until I set the control knobs to 76 degrees. The heated seats helped solve this issue. The knobs on the dashboard, the door handles, and the thicker metal accents exude a sense of luxury, but there are some issues with fit and finish. The section of the front seats facing the center console is covered in fabric. The plastic cover on the co-pilot seat plastic was sticking out. The radio and navigation system is not easy to operate. Information appears seemingly at random and is not intuitive. Call me computer-challenged, but it took this reviewer three days to bring about the needed information by pushing the touch controls on the central stalk. On Star system and SOS emergency call button are standard.
The second row passengers can watch videos on a collapsible screen. While the second row offers its own set of climate controls, earphone plugs, and a 110 volt plug in addition to a 12 volt outlet, the space is limited—especially for the passengers with large feet. Making passengers in the second row comfortable eliminates the space in the third row. The third row seating is not for the faint of heart, or somebody with larger hip bones. On shorter trips, however, small and agile family members can make do with the narrow and flat seats. A simple push on a couple of levers will flatten the third row seats and open a large cargo space. Do the same with the second row, and the Traverse becomes a sleeping car, or a hauler ready for Costco/Home Depot. Around back, the rear lift gate on the Traverse LTZ is electric. The cargo area contains several metal eyelets to hook the netting, but they were very hard to move. The hooks for clothing in the rear are useless because one must lowered the seats to use them. And what happened to the handles above? A removable middle part of the rear bumper reveals a towing hook. Another 12 volt plug is on the rear pillar. In the trunk there is a convenient cutout section to unscrew the spare tire underneath. It took a team of my mechanics – all seasoned professionals - ten minutes to find the hidden lever and open the hood which is held by a single telescopic lever. A sticker on the door proudly announces that the Traverse was made jointly by GM and UAW in Lansing Delta township in Michigan. While cutting through heavy traffic in Chinatown I ask my co-pilot Tom about the Traverse. He indicates he likes the car—until he glances at the sticker sheet: “I did not expect it to cost this much,” came a quiet reply. And therein lies the main problem with the Traverse. It is a good-looking and capable machine, but with the sticker in the mid-forties and the fuel consumption below fifteen miles per gallon, the Traverse loses much of its appeal. So here is an idea: A GM just introduced a clean diesel engine in its 2014 Chevrolet Cruze. Somewhere in the vast GM universe around the globe, there must exist a similarly suitable diesel engine for the Traverse. The fuel consumption would improve dramatically, and the low end torque would take care of high revs. And for the Chevy aficionados longing for rubber-burning marks? Get a Camaro.
SIDEBAR COMMENT For decades, Chevy was the first rung on the GM ladder—the price value leader. Now, the ladder has fewer rungs, and fewer models. So, the Traverse has the challenge of spanning the gap in vehicles. In response, Chevrolet blends an exterior that is friendly, along with a recently updated, more distinctive front fascia, with an expansive interior. This doesn’t feel intimidating like the suburban. The clean lines and surfaces can almost be likened to Audi. This model provides nice styling inside, yet the clearly bean counters kept a lid on costs in the materials department. The drive is above-average in the comfort department. No bone-jarring SUV-like reflexes, or mush-mobile here. No, no. This is the sort of ride that many upscale manufacturers aim for. This isn’t the most sophisticated, however I notice several times just how pleasing a drive this crossover is. Okay, it won’t provide a sporty ride like a Camaro, or the accommodations of a Cadillac, but that’s perfectly fine by us, as this has a mission as a people hauler. It’s interesting how the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse so adeptly handles seemingly simple task so effectively. Just using the Bluetooth connected phone (an iPhone 4S to be precise) is a pleasure, as voices come over loud and clear. Now, this isn’t earth shattering, but numerous car companies can’t even manage this marginal task. That’s how the Traverse rolls. Maybe it isn’t as well rounded as a Swiss Army knife, but more often than not it does what it does properly, and effectively. Why can’t more cars, crossovers, and SUVs be more like the Chevy Traverse?
Perhaps the best attribute of this model is the vast cargo hold. Unlike the Chevy Equinox, with the seats folded down this provides a wide, flat load space. In testing, we squeeze in far more than we expect both on the load floor and the space found between the folded forward seats. Optimally, available removable rear seats could open more yardage, but that would add all sorts of other headaches. Curiously, while this has a powered rear door for opening and closing, this provides a leash-like rope to pull the rear seats back upright from the folded position. On one hand this is a straightforward solution, but on the other it seems primitive in contrast to the automated rear door. More mystifying is the big picture. The Traverse attempts to offer something for everyone, but the price keeps me thinking that this is bordering on real upscale transport. Having softer touch materials and less plastic surfaces would make this a no-brainer at this price point. Nevertheless, this is hard to argue with in terms of most of the other aspects. Is this an indicator of where GM is heading? Perhaps making a better product rather than a cheaper product is the proper approach. Will the populace find the king dressed in cotton instead of satin and velvet is just as regal? If so, the Traverse will continue to earn praise by those that matter… the owners. – John Grafman For more information about Chevrolet products, go to www.chevrolet.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ AWD Price: $30,510 (base LT FWD) $42,425.00 (base LTZ AWD) $46,410.00 (as tested) EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 17/24 (LA Car observed: 14.7 mpg) Engine type: 3.6 liter, direct-injected V-6 VVT gasoline engine Horsepower: 288@6300 rpm Torque: 270 lb.ft.@3400 rpm Drive configuration: All-Wheel Drive Transmission type: Six-speed automatic transmission Suspension Front: Coil over strut Rear: Linked H arm Brakes: 12.8 x 1.1" disc front 13.0 x 0.8" disc rear Wheels and tires: 20-inch alloy wheels with P 255-55R 20” 107 H rated mud and snow Bridgestone Dueller Alenza Dimensions Overall length: 203.7 inches Overall width: 78.5 inches Overall height: 69.9 inches Curb weight: 4,841 pounds