The highly successful TrailBlazer continues to forge new ground, with a host of improved safety features and an upgraded interior. Designed to deal with both the domestic and foreign competition, the TrailBlazer strikes a nice balance between cutting edge styling and no nonsense practicality. Among the more impressive features on this years roster are electrically adjustable foot pedals, new 17-inch rims, light cashmere cloth seats and monochromatic instrument cluster.
The TrailBlazer exhibits a tough, no nonsense stance that has become synonymous with Chevy trucks. Its handsome lines and trademark Chevrolet styling cues give it a rugged, yet somewhat sporty look that is evident even on the most basic models. This year's trim levels include LS, LT, LTZ and the extended wheelbase EXT. The Northface package is available on both standard and extended wheelbase versions and includes special body cladding, running lamps, a lift gate luggage rack and even a retractable clothesline. Interior appointments include Northface seats, mesh map pockets, an underfloor storage cargo liner and a set of Northface travel gear.
The TrailBlazer exhibits none of the vibration or harshness of previous body-on-frame SUVs, a rock-solid feeling that can be attributed to the extensive use of hydroformed steel found in its frame. Hydroforming technology uses highly pressurized water to bend and form the steel rails that make up the frame. This technique allows the manufacturers to shape the steel without weakening it, as happens when it is heated and then hammered into shape. The result is a stronger chassis with less flex.
As good as it looks from the outside, it's the TrailBlazer's interior that will most likely sell you. From the first time you climb inside, you'll notice that the interior feels wide and open, without that sense of claustrophobia you sometimes feel in mid-sized SUVs. Your backseat passenger will notice it too, with ample legroom and plenty of shoulder and hip room. If you happen to be one of those occupying the third row seat, you'll notice that not only do you have room to stretch out, but that getting in and out of the TrailBlazer does not require you to participate in a series of contortionist-like maneuvers. The extended models feature longer rear doors and the second-row seat folds forward to allow easy passage. Cargo room is somewhat restricted when the third-row seat is in place, but there is still enough space to load in a half-dozen bags of groceries or stow a few overnight bags. Fold the rear seats flat, and the TrailBlazer reveals over 80 cubic feet of cargo volume; XL models have over 100 cubic feet.
From the driver's seat, the narrow front windshield posts and side B-pillars mean improved visibility all around and greatly reduced blind spots that can hide pedestrians or other small objects. The driver's seat sits up high and provides a commanding view of the road and the front captain chairs provide excellent comfort. On LT and LTZ models, an available power driver's seat provides multiple positions, accommodating just about any sized person with ease.
As we mentioned earlier, the standard engine on the TrailBlazer is a powerhouse 4.2-liter inline six. This engine is really amazing and the feeling from behind the wheel is nothing short of breathtaking as you experience the TrailBlazer's lightening-fast acceleration and ample passing power. The true beauty of this engine is that although it feels like a V8, it consumes fuel like an efficient V6 (EPA rates the 2WD TrailBlazer at 16 miles per gallon city/22 miles per gallon highway). Still, if you require more torque for towing, the addition of the 5.3-liter V8 is always on deck, but only on the EXT models; not to worry, we really think you'll be satisfied with the performance of the standard six.
The TrailBlazer's ride, handling and braking characteristics can almost be described as car likethat is until you move the TrailBlazer off road or into deep snow where its 8-inches of ground clearance and Autotrac four-wheel drive system allow you to go places no car has ever seen. The steering wheel has a solid, heavy feel to it, devoid of the floating disconnect inherent in so many power steering systems. You always have a good idea where the TrailBlazer is going and its tight steering and double A-arm front suspension frees you from constantly making corrections to keep the vehicle from drifting out of its lane. A firm brake pedal brings the TrailBlazer to a quick stop every time and the brakes themselves show little fade after repeated use.
The standard TrailBlazer can accommodate up to five adults while the EXT models, which have their wheelbases stretched an additional 16 inches, can seat seven. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, rear-window defogger, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers. LTZ models have even more standard equipment including dual-zone climate controls, driver's message center, leather-covered eight-way power seats, Homelink garage door opener and the OnStar message center. All TrailBlazer models include dual-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, three-point safety belts for all positions including the center seat occupant and ABS equipped four-wheel disc brakes. Four-wheel-drive versions come standard with traction control, which is optional on two-wheel-drive TrailBlazers.
Options this year include side-impact airbags, XM Satellite radio, a DVD entertainment system and the Bose CD audio unit.