The Chevrolet TrailBlazer sport utility vehicle debuted early in 2002 and was intended to be a midsize replacement for the compact Blazer, which never did find its way out of the lineup.
Rather than a V-6 or V-8 engine, the TrailBlazer draws power from a 275-horsepower, 4.2-liter, all-aluminum inline-six-cylinder. An extended-length TrailBlazer EXT that offers seven-passenger capacity and an optional 5.3-liter V-8 soon joined the original, five-passenger model. Both come in LS and LT trim levels.
Side curtain-type airbags are available for 2005 models. General Motors' OnStar communication system, when installed, gains upgraded hands-free capability. An occupant-sensing system for the front passenger has been added, and an MP3 player is available for the LS model. The available navigation radio gets touchscreen upgrades.
The TrailBlazer stands 74.5 inches tall, rides a 113-inch wheelbase and measures 191.8 inches long overall. Ground clearance totals 7.8 inches. Wedge-shaped fender flares help give the TrailBlazer a different appearance than its GM companions, the GMC Envoy and Buick Rainier. Running boards are available and badging has been revised for 2005.
Seating for five people is standard in the TrailBlazer. The seats have been revised and augmented by new chrome interior accents for 2005. A backseat entertainment system with a DVD player and leather seating surfaces are optional. OnStar is standard. Cargo capacity is 80.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down.
Adjustable brake and accelerator pedals are optional. A monochromatic instrument panel is installed and XM Satellite Radio and rain-sensing wipers are available.
Under the Hood
A 275-hp, 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. A 5.3-liter V-8 is available only in the EXT version. TrailBlazers are available with either two- or four-wheel drive, and the latter includes a two-speed transfer case. The Autotrac system's Auto 4WD setting transfers power to all four wheels automatically as conditions change.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard, and side-curtain airbags are optional. Dual-stage front airbags deploy with varying force depending on crash severity.
Performance is a strong point. When tromping on the gas, few drivers are likely to realize the source of power is an inline-six-cylinder rather than a V-8. Not only is engine sound barely discernible (except when pushed really hard), but road noise is also virtually absent. Acceleration is undeniably stronger with the V-8 in the EXT, but it's not a dramatic difference.
On smooth surfaces, the four-wheel-drive TrailBlazer rides similar to a car. Its handling is a bit on the slow side, but the driver benefits from a satisfying steering feel.
Interior space is ample, and the seats are somewhat firm. The hard-working TrailBlazer competes enthusiastically against the Ford Explorer and other midsize rivals in passing power, ride comfort and handling prowess.