Americans and their SUV’s. They like them big, and spacious, and big. So the Chevrolet Trailblazer fits right in there. It’s big, very big.
The Styling on the Trailblazer isn’t too shabby, it’s typical Chev, some sharp lines and quite well balanced. They’ve fitted matching wheels which give the Trailblazer presence on the road, but doesn’t exactly make it intimidating. The grille is split in 2, which is a fairly common design feature on cars these days, but works well for the Trailblazer.
The Bonnet continues with the sharp lines, making it almost square like in the front. The rear has some interesting design elements. The lights are a funky futuristic design, giving the Trailblazer a younger appeal.
Traditionally SUV’s have the boot release in the little sill just above the number plate, but in the case of the Trailblazer it’s actually in the handle further down, which took some getting used to for me.
The words ‘Trailblazer’ are mounted on the side of the car, which is quite prominent, considering that it’s such a big car, and carries the name on the back too.
To assist in getting into the vehicle, there is a step just below the door, which is useful when you want to use it, but annoying when you don’t as it does get in the way.
There is a ton of space between the wheels and the wheel arches, giving the Trailblazer the persona of a serious off roader, coupled with the large wheels, and the thick tires you get the sense that the Trailblazer means business, and thus the name Trailblazer is probably well suited.
The roof has rails, as you’d expect from a leisure vehicle, allowing you to carry bikes, or surf board on the roof.
On the inside you’ll find a modified version of the Isuzu centre console, with a large dial in the centre that controls the air conditioning and temperature, surrounded by the rest of the climate control settings.
The dash is a little strange though, the dials are quite small for such a big car, I would have expected them to be bigger. Between the two dials is a digital display that shows your car statistics, and besides all the usual range, and fuel economy, driving time etc, the Trailblazer show’s you how much fuel you’ve used. Which, when considering the current fuel price, is the scariest information your car could ever show you.
The steering wheel has buttons on either side. The left controls the radio, while the right is for the cruise control. The steering wheel also has a very uncanny resemblance to the Isuzu Bakkie.
The seating arrangement isn’t too bad, but I’ve seen better in SUV’s. The seats in the front are quite flat, so you don’t get any of that body hugging bucket seat goodness.
In the back there is enough room to keep a small planet, and there are multiple ways of folding the seats around. One option is just to fold the seats flat, another allows you to fold some of the seats into the floor entirely, and the 5 seat arrangement at the back is always a hit with the kids, who prefer to sit as far back as they possibly can.
The tailgate creates a huge opening in the back, and makes the trailblazer a fantastically large vehicle.
It’s powered by a,132kW 2.8-litre engine, which is attached to an auto ‘box. The LTZ variant we tested was the 2.8 AWD, which has comes in at R489,000. There are a fair amount of other cars on the market, that are 7 seaters, AWD, and cost about the same, but having tested a bunch of them, none of them can even compare to the Trailblazer in terms of size and spaciousness.
Claimed fuel economy is 9.8L/100km, which doesn’t sound too bad, but short distance town driving completely destroys that figure, and leaves you closer to the 12L/100km mark. On the open road it claims some of the figure back for itself, but once again, dirt roads and off-roading isn’t kind to consumption figures.
The engine is a powerful diesel, not a sporty one. So it’s a little sluggish on the acceleration, but has no problem pulling a small town around. Once you’re at speed, it’s a pleasant drive and ride quality is good.
The suspension is a little wobbly in the corners, and the car is top heavy, so lumbering over a mountain pass at anything other than cruising speed becomes a little scary.
The Trailblazer isn’t the most exciting SUV I’ve ever driven, but it’s got a well rounded set of features that make it a great family car. So at a sub R500k price point you’re getting a lot of space and practicality.