$3,911 - $6,992

2009 Chevrolet Traverse Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse was new.


Performance: 8.5

The 2009 Chevy Traverse is a star on the pavement, providing a smooth, stable ride with decent acceleration. However, a few complaints persist about the SUV's braking distances and its automatic transmissions.

  • "We tested our Traverse on an enclosed track running a series of obstacle-avoidance tests. Driven back-to-back against the Toyota Highlander, the Traverse exhibited superior capabilities in almost every situation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A 4,500-pound boat-trailer combination was attached to show how easily the Traverse can tow. Along a road course on the Milford grounds, the Traverse didn't seem to strain at all with the extra weight behind it, and acceleration and handling both were barely different from when there was no trailer attached." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "On the road course GM set out for us, Traverse displays the good manners we've come to expect from the Lambda platform. It has decent acceleration for its size, good isolation from road, wind, and engine noise, and corners pretty flatly give the size and weight." -- Jalopnik
  • "Even compared to car-based SUVs engineered five years ago, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is easier to drive and demands fewer compromises in personal safety." -- Edmunds
  • "With all-wheel drive, the Traverse is a terrific winter vehicle. I test-drove my LTZ extensively on snowy and icy roads and it handled impeccably. Even when I drove it off-road into six inches of snow, I had no problems powering through. The wipers and defroster cleared the front and rear windows quickly, most of the time without me having to scrape the windows first." -- BusinessWeek

Acceleration and Power

The Traverse comes with a powerful 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 engine that makes an extra 7 horsepower in LT and LTZ models. According to the EPA, the FWD model nets 17/24 mpg city/highway, while the AWD model nets 16/23. Though these estimates may seem low, Chevrolet says they're better than any eight-passenger SUV on the market.

  • "Although the 3.6-liter doesn't sound or feel as refined as the Highlander's brilliant 3.5-liter, its torque band is still quite meaty, particularly in the midrange." -- Edmunds
  • "Traverse sports a 3.6-liter, 281-horsepower (288 with dual exhausts) V-6 with 6-speed automatic, that's more energetic and considerably quieter than the 3.5-liter, 260-h.p. V-6 with 6-speed in [the Ford] Flex." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "The power was palpable in both city and highway travel as I could move quickly to pass another vehicle and enjoy easy highway cruising." -- Associated Press
  • "Although the Traverse is large, this engine gets it moving easily, and the power comes through surprisingly smoothly, as direct injection is supposed to produce more engine vibration than port injection." -- CNET
  • "While it won't be mistaken for a V8, the direct-injected V6 felt brisk during our controlled driving conditions and towed a 4,200-pound boat and trailer without gasping for breath." -- MSN
  • "Shifts are smooth and generally immediate, though the transmission can be tardy with downshifts at highway speed." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Is it fast? No. But it can certainly get out of its own way, with plenty of passing power and virtually silent operation while cruising." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Despite its large size, the Traverse boasts car-like handling and responsive steering, though some test drivers complain about the Traverse's longer-than-average braking distance.

  • "Ride is smooth, comfortable and quiet. Think family sedan rather than rough and ready SUV. Traverse is nimble and easy to maneuver into and out of the passing lane or parking spot." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Accurate steering and responsive brakes contribute to making Traverse feel almost sporty despite its size." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The stability control system does an admirable job of avoiding cones in wet and dry conditions, and it handles Michigan-style bumps and potholes with aplomb." -- Jalopnik
  • "For a 5,000-lb wagon, the Traverse proved quite capable of changing direction quickly. The steering wasn't as lifeless as some other recent vehicles we've tried and even provided a hint of feedback. This is certainly not a sporting vehicle, but if you must drive a big crossover, it's better than most." -- Autoblog
  • "Braking is one area in which the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse 2LT AWD could stand improvement. Its 135-foot stopping distance from 60 mph is the longest of any seven-passenger crossover we've tested lately, except for the 2009 Honda Pilot." -- Edmunds

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