I spent close to 2000kms behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8D Auto over the Christmas and New Year break and was largely impressed by the vehicle’s many talents, particularly since this time of the year is spent lugging most of our (read wife’s) possessions 550km to Knysna for the annual family vacation/reunion.
Inside the Trailblazer offers loads of space and storage binnacles while the third and second row of seats fold away to increase overall cargo capacity to 1830l. I was hugely impressed with the extra storage space as it was able to consume a mountain bike, two full sized bags, a pram and all the bits and pieces that come with having a toddler. The interior isnâ€™t without fault though â€“ the cream leather upholstery is counter-intuitive for a vehicle of this nature and got appreciably dirty during the month-long test, however, a gentle wipe was all it took to make the cowhide clean again.
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel is a powerful and willing engine. It produces 132kW and 470Nm of torque meaning itâ€™s not short on poke â€“ this was evident during overtaking manoeuvres where the Trailblazer zipped past other vehicles with relative ease. The diesel engine is pretty noisy though and can overpower the cabin when plodding along at the national speed limit but it’s nothing too obtrusive. The massive fuel tank rated at 76l is rather costly to fill but the Trailblazer dismissed the 550km Knysna trip with over 220km of range left in reserve â€“ all at a mere 9.1l/100km. However, donâ€™t expect the same efficiency when pottering along through the stop/start traffic conditions that punctuate town driving as the 2.8-litre becomes notably thirstier and more expensive on the pocket.
The N2 motorway didnâ€™t particularly challenge the Chevyâ€™s handling abilities but the coil-spring suspension (fitted all-round) and fully-independent five-link rear setup remained compliant throughout the journey. If anything the suspension did feel a bit â€˜floatyâ€™ over certain undulating road surfaces but generally behaved amicably. Quite disappointing was the fact our 4×2 rear-wheel drive Trailblazer came fitted without a diff-lock making the prospect of going off-road a pointless exercise.
The Trailblazer could be priced better if itâ€™s to give the Toyota Fortuner a run for its money. That said, itâ€™s already starting to pique the interest of those batting for the other side; I caught my brother-in-law ogling the Trailblazer which I purposefully parked next his Fortuner. Whether it can get Toyota disciples to question their allegiance only time will tell but the fact the Trailblazer is creating the commotion it is bodes well for the product going forward.
PRICE | R423 500 ENGINE | 2776cc four-cylinder, 132kW@ 3800rpm, 470Nm @ 2000rpm TRANSMISSION | 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive SUSPENSION | Independent front, 5-link independent coil spring rear LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT | 4878/1902/1847mm WEIGHT | 2163 kg PERFORMANCE |10.8 sec 0-100kph, 180kph top speed, 10l/100km, 262g/km ON SALE | Now