Had the opportunity to test the Chevrolet Trailblazer seven-seater SUV in December over the holiday period. It was the Z71 4×4 Auto variant, and the spacious, more up to date version, offers much better value than before. Making a statement in fire engine red, and with black 18 inch wheels & the Z71 livery, it cut quite an impressive figure.
The classic bowtie motif is prevalent and upper and lower grille’s run the entire width of the nose. This coupled with a more contoured bonnet, give it a stylish, and masculine look. Maximum visibility is ensured thanks to daylight running lights – which are of the powerful light-emitting diode (LED) type in the case of the LTZ.
Inside the cabin the newly designed dashboard and console is easy to use and gives a feeling of being up market. You have a very high drive vantage point, and this gives you control of your surroundings, without the vehicle feeling top heavy. Space is at a premium, and it is a genuine 7-seater.
We seated four passengers and luggage down to the coast, and whilst there, had six passengers in the car, using the two back seats as well. The relatively small boot space then was sufficient for beach paraphernalia. It has a decent sound system and of course the Next generation MyLink 2.0 multimedia interface, fully compatible with both Apple Car play and Android Auto.
One of the more cool features was the adjustable air conditioning available in all three rows, especially for the back row, which has no windows. Luggage capacity ranges from 205 litres with all 3 rows upright, 1229 litres with the 3rd row down, to 1830 litres with the 2nd and 3rd row seats folded flat.
The Z71 has leather seats and soft touch points, which give the vehicle a touch of class. In the month of testing, I did not detect any rattles, which was a sore point in the past. It has many storage areas and 8 cup holders, as well as 5 charging points.
Another unique feature available on 2.8 LTZ models is Remote Vehicle Start which allows the vehicle to be started from outside using the buttons on the key fob. This functionality allows for additional driver and passenger comfort by activating the climate control system and rear demister depending on ambient conditions. In this mode, the vehicle remains locked and cannot be driven until the key is inserted into the ignition slot.
Onto the drive train for this vehicle, which is the very capable 2.8 litre Duramax Turbo-diesel (VGT) engine which boasts 144 kW, and a class leading 500 Nm of torque. Driving down to the Kwa-Zulu coast and back was a walk in the park for the Trailblazer, and it is 4×4 capable to boot. The cruise control was used on up and down trips, and a very creditable fuel consumption figure of 9.8 l/100 km was achieved, Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 10.4 seconds with a top speed limited to 180 km/h. The Trailblazer is comfortable at 180km/h.
The Auto gearbox is very smooth and you can use it manually as well.
All Trailblazer models (bar the 2.5 manual – 2515 kg) can legally pull a braked trailer weighing 2 965 kilograms. The 2017 model year range now comprises five manual and automatic versions of the rear-wheel-drive 2.5-litre LT, rear and four-wheel-drive auto and manual versions of the 2.8 LTZ and a new flagship in the shape of the Z71, which is based on the LTZ 4×4.
LTZ models are available with optional four wheel drive with low range, which is the default set-up on the Z71. Changing between the two-high, four-high, and four-low drive modes is just a turn of a dial away.
The Trailblazer has a number of safety features which helped tremendously on our trip. A rear mounted camera parking assistance system with cross traffic alert is also fitted. This camera is clear and gives a great view of traffic behind you, it also has forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert and tyre pressure monitoring; some of which can be irritating, and you can switch them off.
Safety equipment across the range still includes ABS with EBD, PBA (Panic Brake Assist), HBFA (Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist), seven airbags (including full-length curtain airbags) – the Trailblazer also picks up a driver’s knee airbag for added protection, pre-tensioning seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat anchors and front park assist.
Lastly the Trailblazer is available with Chevrolet’s Complete Care after sales package with a best-in-class 5-year/120 000 km warranty and a highly-competitive 5-year and 90 000 km service plan.
The drive was really enjoyable and it is fairly nimble for such a big car. The boot area has fold down options which allowed me to load a ¾ bed for my daughter’s varsity. So you can pack for a very long trip with only two people, or use the seating that it provides. Carrying the full compliment of passengers, you will require a trailer for luggage.
Pricing is not cheap for the top model, but you get a lot of car for your buck, and there are other model options.
Pricing (incl. VAT)
Trailblazer 2.5D LT 4×2 MT R 464 000.00
Trailblazer 2.5D LT 4×2 AT R 481 800.00
Trailblazer 2.8D LTZ 4×2 AT R 552 800.00
Trailblazer 2.8D LTZ 4×4 AT R 613 200.00
Trailblazer 2.8D Z71 4×4 AT R 623 200.00