The Chevrolet Trailblazer made its debut in South Africa around 18 months ago and it opened with a solid offering that could match up to the all-conquering Toyota Fortuner in nearly every aspect. Have a glimpse at the sales figures and they tell a different story, the Fortuner sells four to five times more units per month than the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Chevrolet has updated its offering for 2014 and we had a chance to test the updated 2.5-litre turbodiesel with a manual transmission.
Engine UpgradeChevrolet has seen fit to give the 2.5-litre engine a small increase in both power and torque, so it now sits at 120 kW with 380 Nm of torque. That’s plenty for any type of terrain and while it sounds rough on cold start-ups, it smooths out as it warms up. The manual gearbox is typically agricultural and bakkie-like, it’s a long throw, bulky action shifter that requires a fair bit of effort if you want to get moving quickly.
It does have a sixth gear though, which is a particularly long ratio, at 120kph the Trailblazer is chugging along at less than 2 000 rpm. That’s perfect for saving fuel on those long drives.
Beige is outThe first edition of the Trailblazer was a beige-fest, especially around the easy to scuff with the end of your shoe areas. Beige isn’t great for the longevity look, but thankfully the 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer has more dark material in those areas and in our base model, the full cloth seats. The seats feel very durable, despite being a bit soft and lacking in support.
The major area to get the upgrade treatment is the infotainment system. The 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer has the MyLink system into the Trailblazer, which includes a seven-inch touch screen. The system is very simple to use and integrates well with current Smartphones. It even comes standard with built-in apps that allow you to stream radio through your phone's data connection. That way you can listen to radio stations from anywhere around the world through your car’s radio. The radio did seem to have a mind of its own on our model as it would randomly come to life whilst the car was off and we were loading stuff into the rear. Possibly some electric gremlins at work.
Load AwayLoading space in the 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer is at a premium and the rear seats fold down flat and with a simple one-click lever. The rear privacy cover springs out easily and can be stored in a compartment under the boot. That means we were able to toss two rather muddy (thanks to the Cape winter) mountain bikes straight into the Trailblazer without having to take the front wheels off. There was still loads of room for luggage too.
Road HoldingOverall I was very impressed with the road holding ability of the Trailblazer. Whilst its bakkie underpinnings don’t make for the most agile machine, the 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer lets you know steadily that it’s relinquishing grip. Even when the tyres are squealing away it holds a pretty true line.
On the muddier and more corrugated surface the Trailblazer excels more, scoring well on ride comfort. Whilst I see going the full 4x4 route a better option in the bakkie-based SUV segment, I can see the reward of getting this much space at way less cost than an equivalently-sized large SUV. Even if you don’t intend on climbing a mountain with it.
ConclusionThe 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer has all the improvements that the initial offering lacked in order to match the might of the class-leading Toyota Fortuner. The engine is more powerful and carries more torque, the interior has had a colour palette adjustment and the infotainment system is a step ahead of the competition. All that remains then is the price point and with this entry level 2.5 you’re in for R398 100. It’s a slight premium over the Fortuner but still remains competitive and is now a more premium offering than its main rival.
Another opinionThe 2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer receives the brilliant MyLink system among other upgrades. While it may not have quite the pedigree of the Toyota Fortuner, the Chevrolet Trailblazer makes a good name for itself and if you're needing a spacious and capable 4x2, then this'll do nicely. However, do note you could get a pre-owned 4x4 version for about the same price... David Taylor
2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.5D LT quick specs
|Engine||2.5-litre four cylinder turbodiesel|
|0-100km/h||11.7 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||7.4l/100 km (claimed)|
We dislike: . Clunky manual transmission . Opt for 4x4 if you want to go off road