The 2011 Traverse is available in three trims: the base LS, the mid-range LT and the luxury LTZ. Each is available with either front- or all-wheel drive.
All trims are powered by a 3.6L V6 engine with direct fuel injection. All LS and LT engines deliver 281 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque. The LTZ gets a slightly more powerful version of the same engine, which delivers 288 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque at 3400 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission available.
The 2011 Traverse comes with variable-effort rack-and-pinion steering and a low center of mass for stable cornering. The 4-wheel independent suspension allows for a compliant ride and a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,200 pounds, comparable to some truck-based mid-size SUVs.
Safety was given priority in the Traverse's engineering and feature list. Stabilitrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, is standard, as is anti-lock brakes, panic brake assist and six airbags, including head-curtain side bags that cover all three rows of seating.
An extremely roomy interior is one of the Traverse's strengths. The three rows provide seating for up to seven or eight, depending on whether buyers opt for captain's chairs or 60/40-split bench seat for the second row. The bench slides fore and aft for easier access to the third row or added seating space. There are plenty of bins and cubbies all around, as well as ten cup holders.
The Traverse's look is quite different between trims, thanks to a wide range of wheel offerings. LS models get 17-inch wheels, the LT upgrades to 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, and LTZ models get flashy, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels as standard.
The base LS models are well-appointed and include keyless entry, cruise control, front and rear air conditioning and MP3-compatible CD audio. The 1LT trim adds as standard heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls, rear parking aid, trip computer, aluminum wheels and power driver seat. The 2LT trim adds climate control, dual zone A/C, premium sound system, electrochromic rearview mirror, backup camera, power liftgate and four bucket seats. The top-line LTZ adds a power passenger seat, heated and cooled seats, passenger lumbar, seat memory, mirror memory, remote engine start, universal garage door opener, wireless cell phone hookup, power folding mirrors and performance tires.
Noteworthy options include a DVD entertainment system, dual-panel sunroof, leather upholstery and navigation system.
Introduced in 2009, the Chevrolet Traverse is a classy alternative to traditional sport-utility vehicles, offering handling and ride comfort of a car with some of the interior convenience and roominess of a minivan. For 2011, heated cloth front seats have become available on the LT model, and the radio's USB port has been relocated for easier access. White Diamond Tricoat and Steel Green Metallic have been added to the list of available colors.