Chevrolet's mid-size sport utility vehicle replaced the Blazer brand that dated back to the early 1970s. Along with the Trailblazer, parent General Motors added similar models such as the Oldsmobile Bravada, Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X to its fleet. (GM owned Saab at the time). A 275-horsepower inline six-cylinder was originally the sole engine choice, but that was augmented shortly after the TB's launch with a 290-horsepower 5.3-litre V-8 offered in the extended-length (by 40.5 centimetres) EXT model with three rows of seats. For 2006, the Trailblazer could be ordered in SS trim with a 395-horsepower 6.0-litre Corvette V-8 stuffed in its engine bay. The Trailblazer and its offshoots had all been retired by the end of the 2009 model year.
The Trailblazer was rugged enough to do more than just tackle rough roads and poor weather. Its stout body-on-frame construction and generous ground clearance enabled it to head off the trail, as long as the optional four-wheel-drive system was ordered. Base models arrived with dual-zone air conditioning, various power assists, heated outside mirrors and a roof rack. The standard inline six-cylinder powerplant provided plenty of grunt, as did both optional V-8 engines (note that the SS was ideally geared for street use). The generously sized cabin was a boon for passengers - especially the EXT versions sold from 2002-'06 - and its enormous liftgate offered easy access for storing bulky objects.
Without exercising a light touch on the gas pedal, the Trailblazer required frequent fuel stops, especially the thirstier V-8 models. Although roomy inside, the plain-Jane seat fabrics and dash trim detracted from the vehicle's appeal. As well, the ride tended to be on the jiggly side and the vehicle felt rather tippy in the turns. Another complaint was the lack of steering precision that reduced overall driving enjoyment. You could also expect a fair amount of engine noise emanating from six-cylinder models. Compared to newer offerings, the styling is quite dated, especially the ungainly EXT model.
The Trailblazer, along with its badge-engineered siblings, was a solid competitor to the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer, especially considering its high level of standard features and prodigious power options. For used-car shoppers requiring a roomy, reliable sport ute at an affordable price, the Trailblazer is a worthy candidate.
With the production running eight model years, you should easily locate the right Trailblazer at the right price. However, expect to pay a significant premium for harder-to-source SS editions.
Year Approx. price range*
*The higher end of a given price range represents vehicles with more options and fewer kilometres.
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