Launched in South Africa in 2012 to take the fight to the successful Toyota Fortuner, the Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV has proven to be a tough contender in this segment. A boost in specification and engine offerings earlier in the year has put the ball squarely back in the Fortuner's court, but will the Chevrolet Trailblazer reign supreme?
I recently had the opportunity to put the Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8D LTZ 4x4 Automatic to the test and there's no better way to do this than to get serious. A camping surf trip up the west coast to Elands Bay is by far the best way to test a vehicle of this caliber and the Trailblazer was up for the challenge...
2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer looks the partStanding 4 878mm in length and 1 902mm wide with a ground clearance of 218 mm, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is a big vehicle with an imposing presence. The large 18-inch wheels, rear LED tail lights, chrome detailing and color-coded bumpers make the overall styling pleasing to the eye. From the outside then, Chevrolet has done the Trailblazer justice, so a thumbs up in the styling department.
Spacious InteriorThe interior is where the Chevrolet Trailblazer excels. I made a point of packing just about all the camping gear I could muster up including larger items like cooler boxes and two surfboards. With both rows of rear seats folded down, the 7-seater Trailblazer swallowed all the luggage with one big gulp.
Apart from more than generous space, this Trailblazer in LTZ trim comes with comfy leather seats set in a new Dark Ash Grey interior colour scheme. Durable and hard-wearing plastic dominate the interior which is somewhat befitting for this type of car but some soft-touch materials would have been nice.
In terms of interior features, the Chevrolet Trailblazer has many. All models in the Trailblazer range now feature the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system as standard, which is a big plus. The system takes care of all your infotainment needs via a 7-inch touch screen display. With video and picture playback, full audio capability, USB and auxiliary ports and Bluetooth, you won't be left wanting, unless you need satellite navigation or other features, which can be accessed by downloading the MyLink App on your smartphone. A reversing camera is a handy addition to the range and helps with navigating the Trailblazer safely, but is only available in LTZ trim
The DriveWith the Chevrolet Trailblazer packed to the max, I set out for Elands Bay, a 221 km journey from Cape Town. To get me there was Chevrolet's uprated 2.8-litre Duramax turbo diesel engine which offers 144 kW and 500 Nm of torque. In close-quarter driving situations the engine seemed to be a bit groggy with the 6-speed automatic transmission being particularly indecisive leading to jerky gear transmissions. On the open road however, the engine was admirable.
The drive can come across as mundane when cruising along, but put your foot down and the engine jumps to life, kicking the Trailblazer forward at pace. All that torque makes overtaking a breeze and a pleasure in the Trailblazer. Cruise Control makes long-distance driving that much more relaxing and with the Cruise Control buttons mounted on the steering wheel along with the audio controls, the drive was a pleasant one.
The steering feel was a bit lighter than I expected for a vehicle of this size, but the general ride and handling is smooth and the Chevrolet Trailblazer offers a comfortable ride over long distances. I also managed to do some light 4x4 driving in Elands Bay and this gave me the chance to test the various 4x4 settings. A rugged path with a relatively steep and bumpy incline lay before me. Using a dial, I was able to easily switch between 2-High, 4-High and 4-Low as needed and the Trailblazer had no problem conquering the challenging terrain, a pleasant experience indeed.
Chevrolet claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.5-litres/100km and I managed to average between 11 and 12-litres/100km which is good, considering how much stuff I was carrying.
Chevrolet Trailblazer - VerdictI feel the Chevrolet Trailblazer is a good all-round product. It offers pleasing styling, a solid choice of engines and good dose of features too. As a lifestyle vehicle, the Trailblazer will appeal to many, particularly small to large families looking for a vehicle that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. The hardy interior is built to last and the space offering is commendable. I found the Chevrolet Trailblazer to be a solid lifestyle vehicle that is likely to please on many levels.
The Chevrolet Trailblazer is an attempt by General Motors to break the market stranglehold held by the Toyota Fortuner. It may not be able to match the history and heritage of the Toyota, but it remains a solid and very capable offering which is able to match its rival in most departments. - David Taylor
Chevrolet Trailblazer - Price in South AfricaThis Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8D LTZ 4x4 A/T is priced from R526 900. The entry-level 2.5 4x2 LT manual derivative is priced from R402 100. All models come with a 5-year/90 000km service plan, 5-year Anti-Corrosion warranty and a 5-year/ 120 000km warranty and roadside assistance. Service intervals are set at 12 months / 15 000km.
|Engine||2.8 four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|0-100km/h||10.6 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||9.5L/100km (claimed)|
We Don't Like • Tiny interior trim issues • Indecisive, jerky automatic gearbox
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