That was my first thought as I took in the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse at the Canadian International Auto Show. GM simply had to do a Chevy version of the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, right?
Yes, but did GM stretch enough to distinguish the Traverse from its sister wagons? I’d say no for now and wait to be proven wrong.
Here’s what we know. The Traverse, a full-size crossover that will essentially replace the Chevy TrailBlazer this fall, shares all its expensive bits with the Outlook/Acadia/Enclave. That’s a good start, but spinning four models off the same platform strikes me as the kind of overkill that dilutes a good thing.
GM can prove me wrong by ensuring that the Traverse does something the others do not. The signs are not promising, however.
Certainly the styling is not a huge departure from the package we’ve already seen in the three others. In fact the Chevy is the most conservative of the bunch. Traverse will share the same 3.6-litre V-6 (286 horsepower) and six-speed automatic transmission as the others, and it has the same interior layout, too.
In GM’s favour is the fact that the wagons already in dealerships have been selling briskly and drawing loads of praise. But the Traverse strikes me as an afterthought, as if GM’s bosses suddenly realized that they have that big-volume Chevy brand, so we better give it a crossover. What’s in the parts bin?
They rummaged around and found the Outlook/Acadia/Enclave. And from those the Traverse was born.
GM has two ways to go to separate the Traverse from the rest. One is pricing. The Chevy should be less expensive than the others. We’ll know for sure later this summer, closer to the launch date.
And from behind the wheel the Traverse should feel a bit different from the others. We’ll know what Chevy has done there in a few months, too.
GM is walking a tightrope here. We’ll see if the General ends up needing a net.