2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Article and photos by Haney Louka
2009 Chevrolet Traverse
At a recent media event, another journalist asked me what I had planned for the summer. My response: a family road trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Why?” was her immediate reaction. This particular journalist lives in Montréal, so a seven-hour drive south could get her to either Boston or New York City, depending on traffic. In the Prairies, it’s a little different, and not in a bad way.
With two young children, a seven-hour drive is totally achievable in a day, landing us at our destination around supper time, with enough waking hours left for a relaxed meal and a dip in the hotel pool. The only major city within our one-day-drive range is Minneapolis, about 750 km southeast of Winnipeg.
A family road trip is the perfect context in which to evaluate a new vehicle because it’s the leisure use – not the daily commute – that often limits a vehicle’s abilities and consequently influences consumers’ buying decisions.
Our test subject for the summer road trip was a 2009 Chevrolet Traverse with the 2LT AWD package. The Traverse is the most recent addition to General Motors’ line of Lambda full-size crossovers, also known as minivan replacements. It joins the ranks of the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Saturn Outlook (for which the outlook is grim to say the least).
2009 Chevrolet Traverse. Click image to enlarge
Traverse pricing starts at $35,620, but the 2LT package which includes 18-inch wheels, park assist, and a rear view camera comes in at $42,220. All-wheel drive adds another three grand (gulp!). Our tester was outfitted ideally for road trips thanks to the $6,750 sunroof, DVD, and navigation package, and the $550 towing package, which we didn’t use. All in, our tester’s price tag tipped the scales at $52,520 plus destination and taxes. As this is written, GM is offering a $6,500 cash allowance to bring the sticker down to a more reasonable (but still steep) $46,020.
Before I get into the road trip, one aspect of the Traverse’s design strikes me as inappropriate and, frankly, dangerous. As one approaches the vehicle, a push of the unlock button on the key fob activates its exterior lights. This is a common practice employed by several automakers. But here’s the rub with GM’s design: the reverse lights also illuminate. So if the car is parked nose-in at a parking lot, an approaching vehicle will suddenly be greeted by a large crossover that not only appears to be in reverse gear, but it also looks like the driver has taken his or her foot off the brake pedal, since those lamps are not on. How does something like this make it into production without some decision maker giving their head a good shake?
Thank you, I feel better now.