Fit to a T
Trailblazer is SUV for the worldBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Firstly, it was that Chevrolet pioneered the SUV concept when it introduced the Suburban Carryall in 1935. This all-metal body (the trend then was to use metal over wood on the side frames) rode on a half-ton commercial truck chassis that could seat eight passengers or work crews and was powered by a 3.4-liter straight six, 60 HP gasoline engine.
Secondly, the American badge has also produced a number of memorable SUVs: the 2008 Tahoe Hybrid was the first full-size SUV to utilize the advanced 2-mode hybrid (gas/electric) powertrain; high in utility, value and driving enjoyment, the 1996 Tahoe was Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” as well as a MotorWeek’s “Driver’s Choice”; premiering for the 2002 model year as a midsize SUV, the Trailblazer took home the North American Truck of the Year award as well as became one of the year’s best selling models.
Lastly, GM, Chevy’s parent company, has seen many booms and busts in a century of auto making: Recently, it not only survived the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009, expensive gasoline and the financial meltdown that dried up funding for car loans. It has earned $16 billion in profits in the past three years and has emerged a leaner, stronger company.
And since traditional SUVs are finally heading out to pasture—buyers are generally complaining of the stiff and jarring ride, very few of these would-be buyers actually go through mud bogs or navigate boulders, and most of them are now making humbler, more pragmatic choices—what sort of SUV Chevy has decided to roll out recently should merit our attention.
Indeed, Chevy has drawn on its huge store of knowledge, experience and heritage in the global SUV market in reviving the Trailblazer badge.
While the Thailand-built All-New Trailblazer is completely unrelated to the old American-built ones, Chevy has worked hard to improve on the previous generation’s features and capabilities.
The All-New Trailblazer’s bold road presence, created by the GM South America Design Center in Brazil, shares a number of design cues with its sister vehicle, the Colorado pickup, in line with Chevrolet’s global design DNA (Chevy’s dual-port grille and its 3-dimensional honeycomb mesh backing).
Exterior highlights include a “body in-wheels out” design that gives the All-New Trailblazer high approach and departure angles as well as a dramatic power dome in the hood.
With an overall length of 4.9 m and a width of 1.9 m, the All-New Trailblazer offers more room inside, including the third row. The roominess is complemented by a vehicle height of 1.85 m. Handling and stability are aided by a 2.85-meter wheelbase, with a front and rear tracks of 1.57 m and 1.59 m, respectively.
When the road ahead is flooded and where there are deep ruts, owners should feel secure that the All-New Trailblazer offers a ground clearance of almost 0.3 meters.
Among the main considerations of Chevy was to improve the quality of the ride. Considering the All-New Trailblazer—like its predecessor—still employs body-on-frame setup, Chevy designers put independent suspensions in front and independent 5-link suspensions in the rear.
This setup allowed the 2-ton All-New Trailblazer to offer superior towing capability (up to 3,000 kg), payload and overall durability in heavy-duty use. At the same time, thanks to new suspension setup, the All-New Trailblazer offers a much improved impact isolation on bumps and rough surfaces.
For most regions including here in Southeast Asia, Chevy opted to offer two types of powerplants both sourced from GM’s family of Duramax diesels: a more powerful (180-HP, 470-Nm and 12.5-km/l efficiency) 2.8L diesel engine equipped with variable geometry turbocharger with intercooler (mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission) and a more fuel-efficient (150-HP, 350-Nm and 12.99-km/l efficiency) 2.5L diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
It should be interesting to note that in the Middle East, the All-New Trailblazer is also available in a 3.6L V6 gasoline engine variant (that generates 236 HP, 329 Nm of torque and 8.2-km/l efficiency). Let’s cross our fingers and hope Chevrolet Philippines—The Covenant Car Company Inc.—brings it here.