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What is it?
2009 Chevrolet Traverse

What's special about it?
The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is about as predictable as it comes in the automotive industry.

Let's break it down. There's a new full-size, unibody SUV platform in the house of the General, called the Lambda. GMC got a version, called the Acadia. Saturn called the one it got the Outlook. And Buick has received raves for its swoopy blue-eyed version, the Enclave. That Chevy didn't have a version of this vehicle from the very start is the only surprising thing about it.

But Chevy gets to be the division to announce that the 3.6-liter V6 in the line of GM three-row crossovers will get a direct injection system for 2009. The DI pushes horsepower up to a maximum 286. This compares to the maximum 275 hp that the current Buick, GMC and Saturn versions make. The peak output drops by 5 horsepower to 281 hp for lower-level Traverses equipped with a single exhaust as opposed to dual exhaust. The DI system also brings with it a small bump in torque — 4 pound-feet in dual-exhaust vehicles. Nobody at GM wants to confirm that the DI engine will be standard across all Lambda-platform vehicles, but if this doesn't happen for model-year 2009 we'd be shocked.

Other than styling, the Traverse is essentially identical to its siblings. That's not a bad thing considering how well-received they've all been. Interior dimensions are, predictably, nearly identical to the other Lambdas. And available equipment appears to be consistent across the board. We'd expect the Chevy to come with fewer standard features than, say, the Buick, given that it will probably be the least expensive of the lot.

How much less expensive will the Chevy be? Well, GM isn't talking, but since the Acadia starts at $30,470 and the Outlook goes for $28,995, we'd estimate a two-wheel-drive Traverse LS would start right at $28,000. And yes, this does spell the end of the body-on-frame and long-in-the-tooth TrailBlazer, which carries a base price of $28,150.

Production of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse begins this fall at GM's plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
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