Test driving the Chevrolet Trailblazer

Feb 07, 2016, 10:20 IST | Harket Suchde

Chevrolet has finally bitten the proverbial bullet and brought in its very own SUV – the Trailblazer – to India

Whenever a new, full-sized SUV makes a foray on our roads, public curiosity is piqued and interest levels skyrocket. So expectations, too, are naturally high.

PICS/Sanjay Raikar
Pics/Sanjay Raikar

The new Chevy on the block is an absolute titan on the tarmac. That front grille split by the bow-tie badge is extremely distinctive, as is the sculpted hood and those beautifully crafted projector lamps. There is, however, a fly in the ointment: those petite fog-lamps are diminutive. The chunkiness (for the most part) continues with the floorboards, 18-inch alloys, yawning wheel-wells and sleek roof-rails. At the back, though, the Trailblazer looks a little angular, although the wrap-around LED tail-lamps add visual appeal.

Interiors of this big Chevy SUV are spacious and comfortable

Climb into the cabin and the driver’s seat is pretty comfortable, and offers pleasant thigh-support, and also adjusts electronically. You are also afforded a commanding view of the road ahead. Even the seat-belt clips are nice and hefty, adding to that sensation of bigness that the Trailblazer projects. The simplicity of the interior is set off by an attractive and flamboyant air-con cluster. Space in the second row is good, too, but does get cramped for a full-grown adult in the third one. There are pretty handy roof-mounted AC vents for both rows available as well.

Seats fold flat to release 1800 ltrs of boot space
Seats fold flat to release 1800 ltrs of boot space

Boot-space, too, is massive, and if you ever take the Trailblazer camping, chuck the tent because both the third and second rows collapse into one big box of 1,800+ litres. If you want to look up at the stars, though, tough luck; because the Trailblazer isn’t offered with a sun (or star) roof. The seven-inch MyLink system is exceptionally simple to use, but lacks in the sat-nav department, a slight oversight in our book.

The diesel engine has the legendary Chevy 'Duramax' name
The diesel engine has the legendary Chevy 'Duramax' name

Fire up that 2.8-litre Duramax motor and slide that six-speed auto-gearbox into Drive, and you’ll notice that the engine is pretty audible inside the cabin, which is slightly underwhelming. In terms of ride quality, the suspension is set up on the softer side. This means it is highly absorbent of rough patches at low speeds. Even off-road, where you can’t do much more than crawl, the suspension keeps your spine from rattling. Speed up, however, and this softness lends the car a bit of bounce when going over undulations.

Talking about speed, the power delivery is surprisingly urgent in the Trailblazer, and we clocked an impressive 10.61 seconds from zero to 100 km/h. Impressive for a car this size. The 200 PS and 500 Nm producing ‘motor’ delivers the power to the rear wheels in a fairly linear fashion. That six-speed automatic gearbox, which is also pretty well-sorted, has a huge hand in the Trailblazer’s performance. It shifts up at 3,600 revs — harnessing all the 500 Nm of torque and 200 PS which peaks at that rev range, and allows the Trailblazer to extract every iota of performance in every gear, and surge forward when driven in a straight line.

When it comes to handling at high speeds, the Trailblazer isn’t the most accomplished car you’ll ever drive. And this is understandable, because the heavyweight isn’t built for darting around, and there is a significant amount of body-roll. The steering could do with a little more of an assist, though, and couple that with the aforementioned bounciness from the suspension, and you have a car that poses a challenge when thrown into corners. In fact, the steering feels even heavier at low speeds, and turning the wheel while getting out of the parking lot, for example, is a bit of a workout.

The ventilated disc-brakes (300 mm and 318 mm for the front and rear respectively) muster enough force to bring you to a reasonably quick standstill. However, the brake lever feels too spongy for comfort. It’s a good thing then that Chevy has loaded the Trailblazer with a variety of kits to help with this, including ABS with EBD, hydraulic brake assist, and cornering brake control. Sticking to the safety theme, the car has dual front airbags, parking camera and sensors (an absolute must for a car this size), and a high tensile steel body built to withstand impact. Being an authentic SUV, it also has hill start and descent assists.
The most we could get out of the Trailblazer was an 8.8 km/l efficiency overall, which is again par for the course for a car this size. It costs close to R33.5 lakh (OTR, Pune). The fact that the car doesn’t come in a 4x4 configuration in India means it isn’t the most hardcore off-road option out there, but with 253 mm of ground clearance it is still pretty capable.

The Trailblazer has a lot going for it with a few niggles. It isn’t an absolute standout in its segment, all things considered, and much of the decision between picking it over its competitors will boil down to the right fit between driver and car.

Need to know

Chevrolet Trailblazer
Engine Type: 2,776 cc, four cylinders in-line, turbocharged, common rail diesel injection
Max Power: 200 PS @ 3,600 rpm
Max Torque: 500 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
Price: Rs 33.5 lakh 

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