The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse crossover SUV is longer overall and has more passenger and cargo space than a full-size Tahoe. As with its GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook stablemates, the Traverse uses a lightweight car-based design with unit-body construction, a fully independent suspension and a transverse-mounted engine. This results in carlike ride and handling, and with the all-aluminum, direct-injected V6 dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, it has better fuel economy than the truck-based Tahoe.

The Traverse is available in front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations. A unique slide-and-fold second-row seat that stacks flat against the back of the front seats provides easy access to the roomy third-row bench. New for 2011 are available heated cloth seats on LT models and a USB port relocated from the radio to the upper-instrument-panel storage bin. Other available equipment includes Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic notifications, rear-seat DVD entertainment, a power lift gate, remote vehicle starting, heated and cooled front seats, a backup camera and a panoramic sunroof.

The Traverse is a good used-vehicle choice for growing families, with its minivanlike passenger and cargo space and 5,200-lb towing capability.

What We Like

Roomy third-row seat; communicative steering; top safety rating; solid structure

What We Don't

Mismatched hard-plastic dash and door trim; low second-row seating position; harsh upshifts and delayed downshifts of automatic transmission

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2011 Chevy Traverse is available with an advanced-design 3.6-liter DOHC V6 with variable valve timing, four valves per cylinder and direct fuel injection. The base engine has a single exhaust and is rated at 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. The optional dual-exhaust version bumps output to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shifting is standard, and both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. Both versions of the V6 burn regular unleaded fuel and are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The 2011 Chevy Traverse comes in LS, LT and LTZ trim.

Typical LS equipment includes front and rear air conditioning, 8-passenger seating with cloth seats, split fold-down second- and third-row seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, the OnStar communication system, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, auto headlamps, cruise control, 17-inch steel wheels, a rear wiper/washer, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and power door locks, mirrors and windows.

The LT trim adds 18-in alloy wheels, speed-sensing steering, mirrors with integrated turn signals, steering-wheel audio controls, an outside-temperature display, a power driver's seat and rear parking assist. The options list is opened up to include navigation, automatic air conditioning, a power sunroof, a power lift gate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a premium audio system with 10 speakers, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with headphones, a backup camera, second-row bucket seats, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power front passenger seat.

The range-topping LTZ goes all in, making much of the equipment that is optional on the LT standard, such as a power lift gate, navigation, automatic A/C, a 10-speaker premium audio system, a backup camera and second-row buckets. LTZ also adds a standard driver's memory seat, a leather shift knob, ventilated front seats and 20-in alloy wheels. The 288-hp dual-exhaust engine is standard on the LTZ, as well.

Pricing

The Traverse offers almost as much passenger and cargo space as a minivan but without the sliding side doors and soccer-mom stigma. Clean, used, family vehicles such as the Traverse are in steady demand, especially low-mileage examples with all-wheel drive. Prices will be more reasonable for front-wheel-drive models. Because the Traverse has standard traction control and the majority of its weight over the front driving wheels, it offers all that most buyers will really need.

To get a good idea of the prices of used 2011 Traverse crossovers, check out the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2011 Traverse:

Snow or ice buildup on the windshield may cause the wiper arm to loosen and become inoperative. This recall is applicable only to vehicles in snow states.

Due to electrical resistance in the wiring-harness connectors, the side-impact airbags and seat-belt pretensioners may not deploy in a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2011 Chevy Traverse a 5-star overall rating, with four stars for frontal impacts, five for side impacts and four stars for rollover performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2011 Traverse as Good for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, and for head-restraint and seat crash performance.

Chevrolet covered the 2011 Traverse with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Chevrolet certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 5 years old or less. Every CPO Traverse undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus whatever remains on the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/30,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Ford Explorer -- An all-new design puts the Explorer on the Taurus car platform, greatly improving fuel economy along with ride and handling. Three-row seating is standard. The 2011 Explorer comes with a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic combo capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. The new MyFord Touch infotainment system on these models is buggy and has required many service updates.

2011 Toyota Highlander -- Toyota's midsize crossover was one of the first car-based designs and gets a freshened appearance for 2011. It offers solid value for families on the move. The 3.5-liter V6 delivers peppy performance, and its 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy EPA ratings top those of the larger, heavier Traverse. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor, but its cramped design is for children only. A Center Stow second-row seat provides a small center-position seat for a child, and it can be stowed away when not needed.

AutoTrader's Advice

The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse offers a smooth-riding, more fuel-efficient alternative to truck-based SUVs, such as the Tahoe, while providing interior space that rivals that of a minivan. While its 5,200-lb tow rating isn't up to truck standards, it's plenty for most small boat and travel trailers. This was the third year for the Traverse, and it benefited from the running production changes and updates that were done to the earlier models. Still, make sure that all of the applicable safety recalls have been performed on the Traverse that you're looking at, and go for a lower-mileage or Chevrolet certified example whenever possible.

Find a Chevrolet Traverse for sale

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Ron Sessions first plunged into automotive journalism to support his aging fleet of patina-rich Alfa Romeos and Volvos. He has since huddled with all four major U.S. auto enthusiast magazines, launched a 4WD adventure magazine, and penned a Nissan Z car coffee table book and three Camaro restoration titles. Ron resides near the Motor City.

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