Chevy's Traverse is versatile hauler
DETROIT - We didn't have access to a corporate jet. We were too cheap to fly commercial. So, we drove here - 528 miles from Virginia to the North American International Auto Show.
"We" included me and my wife, Mary Anne; my
Had GM chairman Richard Wagoner driven a Traverse instead of flown in a corporate jet the first time he came to Washington to beg for federal bailout money, he would have made a much better impression. He would have presented proof-on-wheels what Congress needs know, which is that today's GM makes darned good cars and trucks.
Here's arguing that the Traverse and its sibling full-size crossovers - the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook, all derived from GM's "Lambda" vehicle platform but all imbued with distinct personalities - are among the best in the business. Anyone shopping for a family hauler would do well to put one or all of those GM models on the list.
The Traverse is the latest and, in terms of base price, the least expensive of the bunch. But it is by no means the least capable.
Our journey's mission was simple. We wanted to test GM's claim that the Traverse could get 24 miles per gallon on the highway using regular unleaded gasoline. That's pretty decent mileage for a vehicle designed to carry up to eight people and their stuff.
We wanted to test long-distance driving comfort. What better way to do that than to load the Traverse with four of the world's most critical beings - Mary Anne, Ria, Binta, and Kafi. A trip like that could have very quickly turned into a journey to hell. It didn't. It was a fun drive - even through the ice and snow of the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes and the snow-bound Michigan roads leading here.
We wanted to give GM's OnStar turn-by-turn, voice-navigation system a thorough workout. Here's the deal: You call OnStar. You tell an OnStar agent where you want to go. OnStar automatically programs your route via satellite and sends the information to your vehicle.
There is no need to look at a map, no need to follow a little arrow on a dashboard-mounted video screen. OnStar's guidance instructions are audio. Apparently, they are also gender-sensitive.
True story: A woman's OnStar voice greeted me when I started driving the Traverse. But I ignored her directions several times, once dismissing them as "wrong" and "silly." Suddenly, OnStar's audio directions started coming in a man's voice, much to the howling delight of my female passengers.
Mary Anne was beside herself. "Wow!" she said. "OnStar knows who you are - another man who can't take directions from a woman!"
For the record, I listen to and can take directions from women and do so quite frequently and happily.
Why the OnStar voice changed from that of a woman to that of a man, I don't know. But when Ria was driving, OnStar's directional guidance began in a woman's voice and stayed that way. The bottom line is that OnStar got us to where we wanted to go with very little trouble.
The Traverse, equipped with all-wheel-drive, a 281-horsepower V-6, and a six-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually, got us through nasty winter weather on some tricky mountain roads without slipping, sliding, or in any other way losing stability.
We got 23 miles per gallon on the highway - one mile per gallon less than what GM promised. But that was pretty good considering weather, road, and lots of luggage.
On a closing note, Kafi, our resident audiophile and MP3 expert, wanted me to mention that the Traverse LT2 has "rockin' sound" and "cool hookups." To those of you for whom such things are important, I suppose you know what she means.