Trailblazing the market in top gear

Bobby Cheetham

GENERAL Motors is hoping for big things for their new Chevrolet Trailblazer. A direct competitor to the market leading Toyota Fortuner, the seven-seater sport utility vehicle is already drawing buyers in this highly competitive market segment.

According to the latest passenger car sales figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) for last month, the Trailblazer chalked up 390 sales compared to the Fortuner’s 979 – a remarkable achievement for a vehicle which was only launched in South Africa in October.

So what’s the Trailblazer like to drive?

Pretty damn good!

World of Wheels recently had the 2.8 LTZ 4×4 automatic, priced at R469900, on test and we were impressed.

It’s a big vehicle, (overall length of 4878mm, a width of 1902mm and a height of 1848mm) bigger than the Fortuner, but it’s surprisingly easy to drive.

On the open road it’s very comfortable and the 2.8 litre Duramax engine delivers 132kW with 470nm of torque when mated to the six-speed automatic transmission – which is more than enough power and torque for the average driver.

We drove more than 3000km and recorded average fuel consumption figures of between 9.3 and 10.3l/100km depending on conditions.

This is good for a vehicle of this size and weight.

We were impressed with the room inside the Trailblazer.

The design and styling team has successfully carried the theme of “rugged but sophisticated” through to the interior of the vehicle. Class leading exterior dimensions have been put to good use in creating a spacious interior with flexible seating for seven adults that can be easily tailored to varying passenger/load-carrying requirements. Load space ranges from 205 litres with all seats upright, to a massive 1830 litres with seats folded flat.

The seven passenger seating configuration, with all seats suitable for adults even on long journeys, offers intuitive three-row tumble and/or fold flat versatility with best-in-class third row seat space.

The second row of seats has a 60/40 split with a single latch, forward tumble, fold-flat mechanism. Back rests can be reclined by up to six degrees for added passenger comfort. An integrated folding armrest with dual cup-holders is provided for the second row of seats.

The third row of seats is split 50/50 with the two seats separated by a storage console. These seats also have a fold flat capability that is easily activated by simply pulling on an easy-access strap in an intuitive action.

Conscious of passenger comfort and the need for all passengers to fully experience their surroundings, both inside and outside of the vehicle, the Trailblazer interior design team adopted a “theatre-style” seating arrangement for the second and third rows of seats.

This is achieved by raising the seat height in these two rows without compromising head room to provide better all-round vision for occupants without any tendency towards claustrophobia that can be experienced in some SUVs, particularly in the rearmost seating positions.

The Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 LTZ 4×4 AT, priced at R469900, offers power, performance, economy, versatility, refinement, toughness, durability, style, comfort and spaciousness in a well-rounded package. Add to this the unique heritage of the Chevrolet brand and the new Trailblazer presents itself as a top-of-the-class choice in the mid-size SUV market.

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