I think it’s now been established (albeit by myself) that I’m somewhat of a SUV nut. I do enjoy the smaller sportier cars, but there’s that elevation and space you get from an SUV that you can’t quite replicate in sedans and hatchbacks.
A couple months ago I took the Chevrolet Trailblazer for review. Granted it’s bigger than your average SUV, and essentially uses a bakkie base, but I had been specifically waiting for this vehicle for some time, in the hopes of testing it out on a longish road trip. The versatility and ruggedness of the Trailblazer is what attracted me the most. I liked that I could flip up an additional third row of seats at the rear of the car, or keep them laid flat for extra luggage space. I also liked that although the Trailblazer had all the creature comforts of a high-end vehicle, it also had the endurance and power of a bakkie.
So we hit the N3 and headed for Durban for a boys weekend. The 6 or so hour drive was a breeze for those smart enough to climb in my car, while the others who jumped in the hatchback with bucket seats accompanying us… were not as happy half way along the road.
In fact, the Trailblazer was so convenient and resourceful, that we parked the other car and didn’t touched it again for the weekend, but rather flipped up the third row of seats and had all 7 guys in the one car.
But let’s talk about the specs. I reviewed the Chevy Trailblazer LTZ 2.8D 4×4 manual. This new 2014 version has been given a refreshed feel with new specification enhancements to the range. Aside from new colour to the interior features such as reversing camera have been added to the LTZ line.
- LED tail light clusters
- Chrome detailing
- Air-conditioning with automatic duel-zone climate control
- Rear parking sensors (including the reverse camera)
- Leather upholstery with electric driver’s seat
- Cruise control, Multifunction leather steering wheel, and four 12V power sockets
From a safety perspective, the Trailblazer range also offers:
- ABS, EBD, as well as PBA (Panic Brake Assist) and HBFA (Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist)
- Limited slip differential
- Six airbags (which includes two additional side airbags to cushion the blow)
- Remote central locking with auto-lock doors
- The LTZ range specifically also boasts Electronic stability control, Traction control system, Hill descent control, Trailer sway control, Engine drag control and finally Hill stat assist as well
A great new feature in the updated Trailblazer is the MyLink infotainment system. First debuted in the Chevrolet Sonic RS earlier in 2014, MyLink is now also available in the Chevrolet Trailblazer, fitted as standard to all derivatives. MyLink brings smartphone technology to the Trailblazer with a large 7-inch touch screen display and a host of media capabilities. Video and picture playback, full audio format support linked to six speakers, USB and aux integration, as well as Bluetooth for hands-free cellphone use and audio streaming, join Chevrolet MyLink’s downloadable app set which allow for an increasing array of integrated media use including Internet-based radio. It made rotating the soundtrack for the road trip simple as each passanger simply connected to the system and streamed songs straight from their phones.
Essentially it has everything you may want in a high-end sedan, packed into a power body. So muscle and brains if you will.
So what does it cost? Well it’s not pocket change, but it is competitive in the segment. The Trailblazer offers five models in the range, and starts off at around R402 100 for the LT range, and at around R474 900 for the LTZ. The 2.8D LTZ 4×4 manual that I reviewed will set you back roughly R509 600.
So now that you know what bang you’re getting for your buck, let’s get back to the drive experience. The fuel consumption was impressive; I managed to drive from Sandton to Umhlanga and still cruise around Durban for a day or so before having to put in fuel.
The car is beyond perfect for a road trip, and although we didn’t tackle any real off-road situations, we did manage to maneuver on some deep beach sand when the Umhlanga beach parking area was closed off. It’s easy to park, a smooth drive and although it does at time have the feel of a loud and heavy bakkie it is quickly overcome by the comfort and features.
All in all the Trailblazer is a big, mighty vehicle with all the luxury features you could need. It is comfortable, reliable, resilient and most importantly for those with an eye for the aesthetic… it’s a good looking car to boot. For the purposes of our road trip from Jozi to Durbs, it managed to fit 5 guys comfortably with a heap of luggage. Once cruise control was set on the open road, the Chevrolet glided along purposefully and smoothly.
The Trailblazer is definitely worth a look. If you are in the market in this category, you can also take a look at the Toyota Fortuna but you probably don’t need to think too hard on this one.
For more information, click here the Chevrolet Trailblazer site.