Chevrolet Trailblazer

Following My Blazed Sensation…

Maybe some of you will be criticizing my judgment. Maybe other writers won’t agree with what I saw and what I felt. So let me get straight to what I mean without these allusions... I honestly cannot change the fact that the first SUV I drove back in 2004 was the TrailBlazer. It was like a dream at that time, trying to steal my old man’s car!

Many who haven’t driven the TrailBlazer might assess it as a crappy vehicle because it is manufactured in Thailand. Every automaker nowadays has plants and factories all around the world to produce its vehicles, so where is the shame of having General Motors producing one of their Cadillac vehicles in China? Where is the problem if Nissan is producing cars in India? And same goes to the Toyota Fortuner, which is the main rival of the new TrailBlazer, produced in China.

Flashback
I attended, courtesy of General Motors, the regional drive of the all-new Chevrolet TrailBlazer somewhere in the far desert and gorgeous resort of Al Banyan Tree, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

If I go back in time to the Abu Dhabi Motor Show in 2008, I recall a pretty cherished interview with the ex-President of General Motors, Mike Deveraux, asking him about the termination of the TrailBlazer which was replaced at that time with the Chevy Traverse. After all, Deveraux’s first car was a TrailBlazer. From the President’s actual statement: “The TrailBlazer was first introduced in 2002, and it quickly became Chevrolet’s best-selling SUV. The TrailBlazer show vehicle made its global debut last November at the Dubai International Motor Show, which is a reflection of the importance of this market for Chevrolet,” said John Stadwick, General Motors Middle East President and Managing Director.

Anyhow, later on came the decision to reproduce the TrailBlazer. It was first previewed in a concept model in November 2011 at the Dubai International Motor Show. And actually, ArabWheels’ cover in January 2012 was the conceptual TrailBlazer, holding the title “Hold Your Horses, the TrailBlazer is back”!

Driving Impressions

Based on General Motors’ new global body-on-frame midsize truck architecture, the all-new TrailBlazer combines the hauling and towing capability of a body-on-frame SUV. So how was the experience?

The ride quality was very good and handling performance was also accurate when driven on road. The TrailBlazer’s foundation for both its on- and off-road capabilities is its robust body-on-frame architecture. With the support of an independent five-link rear suspension, a feature found in more upmarket, premium SUVs, the TrailBlazer displays none of the typical characteristics of conventional body-on-frame SUVs. In fact, it enjoys a combination of best-in-class luxurious ride and responsiveness.

The use of coil springs throughout also provides the TrailBlazer with better suspension articulation, a useful trait in off-road conditions, in addition to providing passenger car-like handling dynamics on the road. The vehicle’s off-road capability is also backed up by its best-in-class ground clearance.

Powertrains
Available in two- and four-wheel-drive configurations, the TrailBlazer is powered by a 3.6 liter V6 with Variable Valve Timing matched with a 6 speed automatic transmission, which delivers an optimal balance of power, performance and fuel economy. It is rated at 236 horsepower and 329 Nm of torque, and delivers excellent fuel economy of 12.2 L/100km.

Exterior

The TrailBlazer’s bold road presence was created by the GM South America Design Center in São Caetano do Sul, Brazil.
Exterior highlights include a “body in-wheels out” design that delivers high approach and departure angles. A dramatic power dome in the hood combined with a raised cowl gives the TrailBlazer a strong, purposeful appearance, while higher-mounted dual projector headlamps are positioned beneath the power dome, emphasizing the visual strength in the face of the vehicle.

Also prominent is the contemporary dual-port grille – an unmistakable Chevrolet cue – that carries a three-dimensional grille mesh. The grille positioned in a more upright position conveys a sense of confidence and power.

An integrated aluminum roof rack system is free of stanchions, creating a clean, uncluttered and refined look. The system is also fully capable of carrying loads up to 100 kg.

The horizontal LED tail lamps on both the lift gate and the rear quarter surfaces provide depth and detail. A more “squared off” rear window creates presence and volume to the upper rear portion of the vehicle silhouette.

The integrated running boards aid entry and exit from the vehicle and serve as enhanced protection from road debris.

Interior
Signature Chevrolet cues continue inside, conveying spaciousness, flexibility and a sophisticated appearance in all control interfaces. With a flowing instrument panel, integrated center stack and signature Chevrolet dual cockpit design, the interior of the all-new TrailBlazer combines car-like characteristics with the boldness expected of a true SUV.

The leather bucket seats match the flow lines visible in the instrument panel. A dynamic, dual-gauge instrument cluster combined with LED Ice Blue illumination with contrasting white digits and points creates a sophisticated appearance.

The seven-passenger interior offers intuitive three-row tumble and/or fold-flat seat versatility and best-in-class spaciousness in the third row.

The additional interior details include:
•    Second row 60/40 split seats with single latch forward gravity tumble, fold-flat capability and six-degree seat-back reclining with integrated folding armrests incorporated with cup holders
•    Third row 50/50 split seats with center console storage and fold-flat capability
•    Flat floor storage from the front row rearward when all seats are folded to provide extreme load capability
•    Auxiliary power plug with USB and Bluetooth connectivity
•    Rear air conditioning controls are located in the headliner and include 4 vents for the second- and third-row seats
A total of 34 storage compartments are located throughout the interior, including a covered center bin for the concealment of valuable items and a large dual glove box.

Safety Features

The TrailBlazer includes an exciting selection of active and passive safety features, including:
•    Electronic Stability Control
•    Anti-lock Braking System
•    Hydraulic Brake Assist
•    Traction Control
•    Dynamic Rear Brake Proportioning
•    Electronic Brake-Force Distribution
•    Hill Descent Control
•    Hill Start Assist
•    Rear Park Assist
•    Six Air Bags for Driver and Occupant Protection

Verdict

The all-new TrailBlazer comes in LT and LTZ trim levels, which are priced in the GCC from USD $31,250 to USD $35,350. Again, General Motors might have pleased many customers with the change of perception for the all-new TrailBlazer - but the famous name TrailBlazer is the promotion itself!

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