THE NEW CHEVROLET TRAVERSE

THE NEW CHEVROLET TRAVERSE
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The Chicago Auto Show was the occasion for revealing the Traverse, which is the Chevy version of the Buick Enclave. It was the main attraction of the press preview days, introduced by the company as a family oriented vehicle by the vehicle line director, Sue Wilson. She had her kids and husband – who they said is a teacher - with her as she drove the new Traverse onto the stage to introduce it to the assembled media. (Perhaps they’ll get the NEA to endorse the thing.)

Chevrolet expects the Traverse to be a great success, and they probably know what they’re doing. They’re so sure of this vehicle - they anticipate that it will outsell the combined totals of the Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook, and GMC Acadia, all of which are built on the same Lamda platform as the Traverse - that it is dedicating the entire Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant (the one originally built to assemble the first Saturns) to building the Traverse. GM recalled 1500 plus UAW workers at the Spring Hill plant. They had been laid-off for the past 18 months. As this is written, they’re training to build the Traverse.

(more after the jump)

Of course, the Traverse is aimed at a family, which is why they filled it with a family to introduce it at the Chicago show. As a family vehicle, it’s undoubtedly very competent – three rows of seats, with about as much room behind the rearmost row as there is behind the third row seat in a typical minivan. Like most cross-overs, the Traverse has a somewhat ovoid shape, four hinged doors, and a more car-like appearance and driving position than is offered by a traditional minivan.

Chevy dealers are certainly rejoicing. After years with nothing worthwhile to sell but trucks and an occasional Corvette, they’ve now got two segment leading vehicles, the Malibu and the Traverse. With the Malibu just beginning to populate dealers’ lots, adding the Traverse to their inventory this fall will give them two strong selling passenger car lines that are likely to more than offset the shrinkage in Chevy’s truck sales.

The vehicle is powered by a 281 hp 3.6 liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission, comes with standard side curtain air bags for all occupants, seats either seven or eight in three row seating, and is available in either front wheel drive or all wheel drive versions, along with three trim levels and a host of options, including a panoramic sunroof.

Yet, there is something about the Traverse, at least as displayed at Chicago, which is unexciting.

Perhaps it was the diluted lime green color, or the black, white, and grey interior uninterrupted by any touch of class, even the faux wood grain-type of class.

The car is boring. Competent, no doubt. But, dull.

It is as though the powers that be at General Motors told Chevrolet to make an Enclave that didn’t look quite as nice, didn’t seem quite as luxurious, wasn’t quite as elegant inside as the Enclave.

In other words, it’s not like the Malibu.

In the Malibu, the idea seems to have been to give the buyer as much as possible for the dollar.

In the Traverse, the idea seems to have been to make the Enclave cheaper and less attractive.

If that was the idea, then they succeeded.

What do you think?
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