17 Oct Trailblazer for 2017
By The SUV segment is growing in leaps and bounds. It is estimated that in the next 10 years, SUV’s will account for 50% of total vehicle sales. With the emerging middle class, the quest to have a vehicle that is stylish, practical, safe and reliable for the family becomes a tough act to package for SUV manufacturers.
Closer home local big wigs like the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and the recently launched Mitsubishi Pajero Sport continue to dominate the local sales charts. General Motors has not been left behind in this race. Two years ago Chevrolet Trailblazer was launched to shake the establishment and now GM has spiced it up for 2017. The biggest question remains, will it dethrone the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest?
The general design profile remains unchanged however the front spots a new ‘face’ in line with Chevrolet’s design language. The trademark ‘bow-tie bar’ is now wider and is textured. Upper and lower grille sections now run full width of the nose and have a series of bolder horizontal slats that gives the grill a butch look.
LED powered daylight running strips are incorporated in the new front lamp cluster to enhance visibility and also enhance its aesthetic appeal.
The new bonnet has sleeker contours on the leading edge. Wider tyres on new 17-inch wheels are fitted to LT derivatives and give it a more purposeful stance, while LTZ versions remain on 18-inch wheels with a glossy black design for the Z71. Tyre size is unchanged at 265/60.
Step inside and instantly you will notice the Trailblazer’s newly designed dashboard (premium in design and quality than the previous Isuzu sourced one) and front console with a contemporary upmarket feel, enhanced by soft-touch materials and contrast stitching.
The seats have been bolstered with extra cushioning to enhance passenger comfort especially during long drives.
The centre console houses a large 8 inch multi information display that houses climate control, satellite navigation and an outstanding audio-visual system that incorporates the very latest Android Auto and Apple Car Play software.
The seamless integration of Apple Car Play literally turns the system in to an extension of your iPhone and even allows you to utilize the SIRI personal assistant while driving; you can command SIRI to read incoming text messages, book appointments, open navigation and guide you to points of interest as well as manage your calls!
Underneath lies the potent yet frugal 144kW/500Nm 2.8L Duramax diesel engine which is mated to a 6-speed adaptive gearbox that mimics your driving style and adjusts accordingly.
The four wheel drive hardware comprises of three main modes, 2H that sends power to the rear axle for economical driving on tarmac, 4H for driving on slippery surface and 4L used for situations that require minimal wheel slip and high torque.
#Behind the wheel
Driving down the smooth Emali-Oloitoktok road the Trailblazer displayed it’s impressive on road manners. Pedal to the metal and the variable geometry turbo worked with so much precision like a faithful soldier awaiting the command of his general.
On full throttle the vehicle chews up the tarmac like a ‘fat kid on cake’. The 500Nm on tap peaks at 2000rpm and the adaptive gearbox allows you to flex the torque at any given speed. The new Electric Power Steering is mapped to give an artificial ‘neutral ‘feel’ that beefs up progressively at high speeds.
Despite its box ladder chassis body roll is kept at a minimum courtesy of the front double wishbone and rear multi link suspension set up, tuned to offer decent road holding abilities and adequate wheel articulation on off-road conditions.
GM has loaded the Trailblazer with tons of new nanny aids to enhance the drive experience like ‘Active Pull Compensation’ which creates a torque-vectoring control by braking effect to enhance lateral stability at all times. Electronic Stability Control, ABS with ‘Panic Braking Assist’ come as standard in the Trailblazer.
The 2017 Trailblazer is now at par with the segment leaders and perhaps it could offer the best value-for-money proposition. Retailing for Ksh. 5.9 million, the Trailblazer is 2 million shillings cheaper than the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest while it boasts the highest power output in it’s class, more technology and comfort. My question still remains is the Trailblazer on top it’s class? You decide.
First Published On AutoVault Kenya