Chevrolet has given the Trailblazer a  better exterior.   Picture: QUICKPIC
Chevrolet has given the Trailblazer a better exterior. Picture: QUICKPIC

It is amazing what a difference a few design changes can make. In the case of the updated Chevrolet Trailblazer it is like an episode of How Do I Look?

In the show, people who were not very well-presented would undergo a full makeover, and when they emerged, an audience made up of bored shopping-centre visitors would lose their minds. Not that I ever watched it, but I’ve heard that’s how it worked. ( My wife used to watch it, not me — honestly.)

If the original Trailblazer had asked how it looked, the answer would have been average. It was big, with loads of space, but it lacked style and the interior was full of terrible plastics.

Now the new one has emerged from behind the mirror — and what a change. It has some serious presence, with a great-looking front end that distracts from the drab side profile, while the rear has also been enhanced slightly.

However, it is the interior that is so impressive. That cheap dashboard has been replaced by something that looks and feels far more premium.

The interior has been completely revised with a new dash and more equipment.  Picture: QUICKPIC
The interior has been completely revised with a new dash and more equipment. Picture: QUICKPIC

While there are significant changes to the 2.5 turbodiesel LT model, the LTZ we tested sees no changes to the lump beneath the bonnet. This 2.8 motor delivers 144kW and 500Nm.

Power is hustled through an auto gearbox which provides a decent combination. It’s not great and the vehicle could do with more soundproofing to mask the engine noise at higher revs, but around town it is on a par with most of its rivals.

Ride comfort is also good, but the rear suspension still provides the feeling you are in something that is based on a bakkie. On those undulating pieces of highway in Joburg, the rear bounces in a way that can get a little uncomfortable. On occasion it even feels like the rear is floating horizontally on the axle, similar to an old Land Rover Defender.

It could be old-school suspension, or it could be the numerous new pieces of tech, such as Active Pull Compensation and Smooth Road Shake Compensation. Perhaps the systems were working overtime and doing the opposite of what they were supposed to do.

The rear has been tweaked rather than extensively changed.  Picture: QUICKPIC
The rear has been tweaked rather than extensively changed. Picture: QUICKPIC

The model is a full seven-seater and while you lose almost all your luggage space if you use that third row, the space in the very back is decent enough for occasional use. Unlike the Toyota Fortuner, one of its major rivals, the seats also fold flat into the floor, ensuring that not only do you have full use of the boot space, but you also have decent rear visibility.

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Then there is the kit. Along with the new dashboard, Chev has thrown in its touchscreen infotainment system. This is possibly the best system when it comes to pairing your phone. In the Chev, and for that matter any General Motors product, it is a cinch. The rest of the system is decent enough and you get access to various apps.

The LTZ has a four-wheel drive system and items such as blind spot assist and lane departure warning. It’s all far more hi-tech than the first generation.

Well done, Chevrolet, you did your homework and completely revised the vehicle. Whether it is enough to threaten the mighty Fortuner, or see off the potential threat of the new Ford Everest range remains to be seen. But it is certainly much more of a Trailblazer than before.

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