2015 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Test Drive
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Chevrolet TrailBlazer Review

Car Tested: 2015 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 32.36 lakhs

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is the most powerful SUV in its class that also exhibits great presence on the road

We saw the Chevrolet TrailBlazer for the first time in India at the 2014 Auto Expo. After gazing at the Camaro and Corvette at the GM stall, it was the TrailBlazer that was getting tremendous attention from the Indian audience. The craze for SUVs at its peak and gigantic dimensions of the car made everyone curious about its launch date. With a promising future in the country, General Motors India will launch 10 new cars by 2020 and the TrailBlazer will be the first one to hit the showrooms in October. Does the new Chevy have enough muscle to make a mark in the ever-growing segment? We take the behemoth for a quick spin and find out.

Motor Quest: The first generation Chevrolet TrailBlazer was manufactured in the USA while the latest second generation model is being produced in Thailand and Brazil. General Motors will be offering the TrailBlazer in India via the CBU route that will be imported from Thailand.

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The TrailBlazer has balanced proportions and is a pleasant SUV to look at

Exteriors – The TrailBlazer is one of the biggest cars in terms of dimensions in its segment and that shows the kind of road presence it has. The muscular and extra large design elements make it one intimidating SUV on the road and people tend to make way for this hulk. The front profile has the typical Chevrolet dual port front grille, large projector headlamps and a chin-up bumper for the tough looks. The side profile boasts an insane ground clearance of 241 mm. The 18-inch wheels are sizeable having a neat alloy design. The LED tail lamps at the rear look crystal clear and no, it doesn’t look like the Toyota Fortuner, it’s quite mature and pleasing to look at.

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The interiors have a simple design but gives you a great sense of space

Interiors – The real SUV feel comes when you grab the handle on the A-pillar, climb up and enter the cabin. The Chevrolet TrailBlazer feels well put together from the inside. Though it’s not the prettiest cabin to look at, the beige and black combo looks nice along with a good dose of gloss black. The three-spoke steering wheel is ergonomically rich having the audio and cruise control buttons stacked well. The instrument cluster though a tad small in size looks cool with the Camaro inspired twin-pod setup and an informative MID in the centre.

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The well cushioned leather seats are comfortable and can seat three people with ease

The centre console gets a big 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with SmartLink, which links your smartphone screen to it. The touch is responsive but sadly there is no navigation system on offer. The sound quality is quite good churning out pleasant acoustics from the speakers. The screen also doubles up as a rear parking camera display, which is very convenient since it is big and clear. Special mention to the quick chilling climate control system that also has dedicated 2nd and 3rd row vents and controls.

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The last row is surprisingly practical for adults and comfortable for kids

The TrailBlazer’s cabin scores high on ergonomics, is a nice place to be in

The fit and finish is good but there are some hard plastic areas which could have been better with a soft touch feel. The leather seats are excellent and offer good body support. The front driver seat gets 6-way power adjustment and has a commanding view all around. The 2nd row has ample space to stretch your legs with great headroom and enough width to accommodate a middle passenger with comfort. The last row is relatively practical that can seat two average height adults for short trips since there is manageable legroom. With all seats up you get enough room for soft bags in the boot but when you fold the 3rd row flat, it offers enormous cargo space.

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The 2.8-litre diesel makes the TrailBlazer feel quick without breaking a sweat

Performance – Powering the TrailBlazer is a 2.8-litre DURAMAX diesel engine. It also comes with a 2.5-litre diesel motor globally but thankfully we will be getting the more powerful version. It produces 200 BHP of power at 3600 RPM and 500 Nm of torque at 2000 RPM, which is class leading and makes it the most powerful SUV in its segment. Even the new gen Endeavour with its 3.2-litre diesel engine doesn’t make such numbers. In spite of having more than 2 tonnes of weight to lug, the DURAMAX offers strong performance with effortless acceleration.

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The engine is silky smooth paired to a clever 6-speed automatic transmission

The mid-range is an ocean full of torque, giving very punchy grunt

With a hint of negligible turbo lag, the Chevrolet TrailBlazer gains momentum rapidly thanks to the magical mid-range punch but the power tapers off near the redline which comes at 4400 RPM. NVH is excellent since the oil burner clatter doesn’t filter through the cabin but at higher revs with the audio system off, the growl is quite audible. Sadly GM will be offering a single 2WD automatic variant with no option of 4WD and manual transmission. The 6-speed auto is quite slick though and changes cogs relatively quick. There is a manual mode too, which thankfully doesn’t upshift after hitting the redline and does what you command. Expect 10 km/l of fuel efficiency in real world conditions.

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Suspension damping is excellent and the TrailBlazer feels composed at high speeds

Driving Dynamics – It is a body-on-frame SUV and the suspension is on the stiffer side. This results in the low speed ride being quite bumpy, similar feeling as the Toyota Fortuner. As you climb up the speedometer, the ride flattens and offers confidence inspiring stability. What surprised us is the well controlled body roll, it’s there but considering the size and bulk of the TrailBlazer, the body roll doesn’t unsettle you. The wide section tyres have immense grip and handling is quite predictable. The steering is numb at the centre and a tad heavy at low speeds. The brakes have quite a lot of burden to stop the mammoth SUV but they do a decent job with progressive pedal bite.

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The TrailBlazer comes with a long list of active safety features on offer

Safety and After Sales Service – The Chevrolet TrailBlazer comes with dual front airbags only, which should have been more considering it’s a full-size 7-seater SUV. Having said that, it is loaded with safety equipment like ABS, EBD, Panic Brake Assist, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Traction Control System, Electronic Stability Control and Cornering Brake Control. General Motors’ after sales is not the best out there in terms of reach and ownership costs but the American giant has rolled out a new ‘Chevrolet Complete Care’ campaign to improve their sales and service drastically across the country. GM is also investing $1 billion in India for a promising future.

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The TrailBlazer is good fun behind the wheel, an entertaining SUV to drive

Verdict – The Chevrolet TrailBlazer comes to India at a time when the competition is all set to upgrade to their next generation avatar. Also, there is no 4WD and manual transmission option so in spite of being a proper SUV, it isn’t a complete SUV. Having said that, the TrailBlazer is quite an appealing vehicle because of its sheer size, engine performance and the generous space it offers. You sit high up and have a commanding view of the road ahead. That along with the convenience of an auto box makes it a fatigue-free car to drive.

There are many buyers in India who hardly take their vehicles off-road and want a big SUV that is easy-to-drive in daily city traffic. This is the kind of audience GM India is targeting. Considering the popularity of the Fortuner AT, the TrailBlazer might get many takers in India.

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You can look at the contrast between the Chevy brothers’ size here

What’s Cool

* A fresh new face in this segment with a humongous size looks attractive
* All three rows have ample amount of space and visibility is excellent
* 2.8-litre engine is responsive and the quick shifting 6-speed auto is the cherry on top

What’s Not So Cool

* Bumpy low speed ride quality
* No 4WD and manual gearbox option

Alternatives: Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, SsangYong Rexton

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta