Cars - Chevrolet

Road tests and reviews of the latest Chevrolet models available in South Africa

2015 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2015 Chevrolet Trailblazer

By Franky Johnson

Last year, the Chevrolet Trailblazer range benefitted from a minor upgrade. Externally unless you knew what to look for, you probably wouldn't notice the difference from the model first launched here in 2012, but under the skin there have been a number of improvements.

The 7-seater Chevrolet Trailblazer is available in five derivatives ranging in price from around R440k to R570k. The model we had which is featured in today's road test is the 4x4 Duramax 2.8 litre turbo-diesel LTZ mated to the 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The only clues on the outside to denote the new model, are the full colour coding, the uprated LED tail light clusters and chrome detailing. The Trailblazer is a very large SUV with a dominating presence, yet it has a sleek and clean look, with the Chevy "bowtie emblem incorporated into the large dual-port grille, the clamshell hood, square-cut headlamps and prominent wheel arches, which on the press vehicle were filled with Bridgestone 206/60R18 off-road tyres, mounted on new 6-arm alloy wheels...

Moving inside the Trailblazer LTZ comes with a reversing camera, a new Dark Ash-Grey interior colour scheme, along with Chevrolet's award-winning Mylink infotainment system, first seen here on the new Sonic, that brings connectivity, smartphone integration, multimedia playback and capacitive touch controls all to an 18 cm high-resolution touch screen.

Also new is the multi-information central LCD display panel giving the usual trip computer readouts as well as information on battery voltage, an adjustable speed warning, transmission fluid temperature, important for off-road endeavours, engine hours and an oil life indicator.

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, electric windows, electric driver's seat adjustment, multi-function leather bound steering wheel with tilt adjustment but not for reach, cruise control, four 12V power sockets, side steps, mud flaps, and rear parking sensors.

The front bucket seats are well shaped and supportive, and the second row will seat three quite comfortably. For those in the third row however, legroom isn’t generous, but adequate. Tall passengers, however, may have a problem with headroom. The rest of the cabin is spacious, practical and roomy and there's an abundance of space for oddments in the large door pockets, the lidded box on the floor console, and the two cubby holes.

Being a true 4x4, the Trailblazer stands fairly high off the road, so getting in could be q mission for some folk, especially women with short skirts, but the press vehicle was fitted with running boards, a sensible addition which makes getting in and out much easier.

The comprehensive list of safety equipment still includes ABS with EBO, PBA, HBFA, a limited slip differential, six airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, a collapsible steering column and remote central locking with auto-locking doors.

The LTZ 6-speed automatic comes standard with advanced driver aids including Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control, Engine Drag Control and rear parking sensors.

To encourage more economical driving habits, economy gauges include an instantaneous throttle position indicator as well as an historical fuel economy graph which shows fuel consumption history for the last 50 km.

The Trailblazer 2.8 LTZ auto as tested was powered by Chev's proven double overhead cam Duramax turbocharged diesel engine, but with a 9% increase in power now producing 144 kW. Average fuel economy is given as 8.5-litres per 100 km, but the on-board computer on the test car gave me a reading of 10.3 L/100km which is more realistic.

Driving the new Trailblazer for almost a week gave me a chance to feel the difference from the outgoing model. With a twist of the key, the Duramax springs into life, but you do hear the sound of the 2.8 litre 16-valve inline-4 Duramax turbo-diesel engine. However, slot it into first and drive-away and the motor quietens down and runs quite smoothly from there on. It has all the power and torque of the new up-graded engine and mates very well to the manual gearbox.

Drive the Chevrolet Trailblazer, and the first thing you will notice is how comfortable it is. Around town the Trailblazer is good with its excellent visibility thanks to its commanding driving position and large mirrors. The power steering is on the heavy side at parking speeds, but the good turning radius makes it easy to park and maneuver in tight spots. On the road, like most large SUVs, the steering is on the slow side, but well weighted and does provide some feedback.

On the freeways, the revs are kept to a minimum thanks to the 6th gear, with the rev counter indicating just 1 800 rpm... At no time, even up the steepest of hills, did the engine show any signs of struggling, as the automatic box always seemed to select the correct gear for the occasion. Also important was that when manual mode was selected, it worked just like a manual in that it would not change up to the next gear without the driver doing the shifting.

After an initial mushy feel, the four-wheel disc brakes were powerful and also equate to a surefooted feel, especially at panic stops.

The handling is pretty good for an SUV, although pushing it hard through corners at high speeds will induce a bit of body roll, but it was always manageable.

Being a Trailblazer I had to test its off-road ability, which I did on my usual quite rocky off-road test track, and with a difficulty soft sand section. With all the standard electronic driver aids, the Trailblazer didn’t disappoint handling all the obstacles with ease.

The advanced 4x4 drive-train design and technology enables the driver to switch drive modes from 2-high, 4-high and 4-low modes at the turn of a dial, and the hill descent control made the steep down slope feel so easy. As for the climbs, the sheer torque of the Trailblazer was most impressive as it made its way to the top with ease.

It was great to have a vehicle with such good ground clearance, as in addition to negotiating large obstacles in the rough, you can also park it anywhere there’s a gap – pavements included.

The new Trailblazer is built in Thailand for global consumption. It is covered by a 5 year / 100 000 km warranty, a roadside assistance package, a 5-year / 90 000 km service plan and service intervals are at 15 000 kms

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