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Chevrolet Traverse gets “very good” overall rating in Consumer Reports’ tests of midsized, luxury Suvs

Posted Monday, June 22, 2009

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CR ranks Chevrolet Traverse third among the 18 three-row SUVs it has tested

Yonkers, NY — With a “Very Good” overall test score, the new Chevrolet Traverse now ranks third in Consumer Reports’ ranking of 18 midsized SUVs with three rows of seats. The only other SUVs in that category that outpoint it are Toyota’s Highlander and Highlander Hybrid.

The Traverse is the newest member of GM’s quartet of large, unibody SUVs, joining the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook. It drew praise from CR’s engineers and editors for its interior room and flexibility, ride, handling, quietness, usable third-row seat, blind-spot mirrors and good crash-test results.

The Traverse missed an “Excellent” rating from CR by the narrowest of margins. It posted an overall road test score (rounded to the nearest digit) of 80, just one point behind the Highlander Limited and six points behind the Highlander Hybrid Limited; both versions of the Highlander have “Excellent” ratings. The Acadia and Outlook are rated fourth and fifth respectively, followed by the Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Hyundai Veracruz in that order.

Consumer Reports tested a total of four luxury and three-row SUVs for the July issue. All three of the others, the Lexus RX 350, Infiniti FX35 and Kia Borrego, earned “Very Good” ratings. The newly-redesigned RX 350 ranks second in CR’s ratings of 14 luxury SUVs, behind the Acura MDX. The sporty FX ranks midpack in that category. The Borrego ranks midpack among the 18 midsized, three-row SUVs.

None of the SUVs in this group are Recommended by Consumer Reports because CR doesn’t have reliability data on them yet. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Car Reliability Survey of its more than seven million print and web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The July issue also contains an “Auto Test Extra” report on the Ford Ranger, which scored at the bottom of CR’s pickup truck ratings, and a first look at the Honda Insight. With a starting price of $19,800, the Insight is the least expensive gas/electric hybrid car available.

Full tests and ratings of the test group appear in the July issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale June 2. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org.

The Traverse can seat up to eight adults comfortably while leaving some space behind the third row for cargo. It rides pleasantly and handles well. The Traverse 2LT ($39,920, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested) is powered by a 281-hp, 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine that performs well and averaged 16 mpg overall in CR’s fuel economy tests. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly but sometimes hesitates to downshift. Braking is Good on dry pavement but less impressive in the wet. Inside, the Traverse’s second row comes with either a pair of captain’s chairs or a three-person bench. Both are comfortable, slide forward and back, and recline. Even with the second row seats positioned all the way back, the third row is roomy enough for three adults. One or both sections of the second- and third-row seatbacks can be folded flat to create a lot more cargo space.

The redesigned RX 350 inherits its predecessor’s polished powertrain; luxurious, quiet interior; rather lackluster handling; and modest cargo space. But the ride is not as refined. Overall, the vehicle remains pleasant and luxurious but it’s not much better than cheaper alternatives such as the Nissan Murano or Toyota Venza. The RX 350 AWD ($47,381 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 275-hp, 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine that provides lively performance and averages an impressive 21 mpg overall but on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. The braking is Very Good overall. Cargo space can be enlarged by folding one or all of the seatback’s three sections.

The sporty FX35 has an array of high-tech safety gear, such as a surround-view camera system and a lane-departure warning. The ride is too stiff and cargo capacity is rather small. In routine driving, the FX is responsive but is too big to be called agile. The FX35 AWD ($51,635 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 303-hp, 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine that delivers very strong performance and averaged 18 mpg overall but on premium fuel. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts responsively and smoothly. Braking is Very Good overall. The interior benefits from great attention to detail and is well-finished with high quality materials. Cargo volume is skimpy, but it’s easy to expand the cargo space by folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks.

Bucking the trend, the Borrego is an old-school SUV built with a body-on-frame construction. Routine handling is sound and the powertrain is quite refined. Common road bumps upset the Borrego’s composure, and the suspension lets in too many hard, rubbery shots. Things get slightly better on the highway, but short, taut pitches remain. The Borrego EX ($34,795 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 276-hp, 3.8-liter, six-cylinder engine that delivers an average 16 mpg overall on regular fuel. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly. The brakes are Very Good overall and stops were short in wet and dry. Cabin fit and finish is commendable, with just a few rough edges, such as those beneath the steering column. Folding all of the rear seats makes for a generous load area.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To become a subscriber, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org.


Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
 
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Chevrolet Traverse gets “very good” overall rating in Consumer Reports’ tests of midsized, luxury Suvs
Chevrolet Traverse drew praise from CR’s engineers and editors for its interior room and flexibility, ride, handling, quietness, usable third-row seat, blind-spot mirrors and good crash-test results.
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