Chevrolet’s facelifted Trailblazer flagship Z71 offers tons of street cred and a bullish stance. Blacked-out 18 inch wheels, door handles and mirrors as well as cool decals make a clear statement: Fortuner and Everest, I am here to get you – on and off the road.
It’s big, loud and in your face. Chevrolet’s red flagship Trailblazer Z71 is as American as they come. The roomy 7-seater is ready to take a piece out of the competition, Toyotas best-seller Fortuner and Ford’s Everest. With its distinctive exterieur upgrades, such as the gloss blacked-out wheels and cool decals it surely looks the part. The revised front grille with the wider bowtie bar gives this Chev a bolder stance with lots of presence. Even when parked.
And the interieur changes are impressive as well. There is a newly designed dashboard with 7-inch touch screen and contrast stitching on the leather seat, adding to the upmarket feel of the off-roader. A revised sound-proofing made the Trailblazer much more quiet inside. It is perfect for urban traffic, easy to handle, thanks to a parking camera and despite the size. But it really feels at home on long road trips off the beaten tracks. The fold-flat third row seating offers more than enough loading space for a family of four.
Under the hood beats the trusted 2.8-l. Duramax turbo diesel with a class-leading torque of 500Nm. And you can’t ask for more driver assist systems. Everything is there. From stability and hill descent control to lane departure warning, blind-spot and rear traffic alert to trailer sway warning and – my favorite in 4x4s – tyre-pressure monitoring.
With all the upgrades the facelifted Trailblazer is a worthy opponent in the body-on-frame segment of the market, dominated by the Toyota Fortuner. It’s not a sophisticated SUV, it’s more down-to-earth rough. Chevy’s Trailblazer loves sliding over muddy pathes, crawling up steep inclines, wading through narrow rivulets and trailing huge dust clouds behind. It’s a proper off-roader and a serious contender for the body-on-frame crown in South Africa.
And thanks to the space inside it’s a family adventure car and travel cruiser for long distances. There is much less noise in the cabin as there used to be. And the driver assist programmes include a forward collision alert. Yes, that guy in front of me on this muddy path is in fact a bit too close.
LED daytime running lights and a bolder front design make for a much more muscular stance. The car oozes self-confidence. Highlight is the range topping LTZ Z71 model with blacked-out wheels, door handles and mirrors. Not to forget the stylish decal treatment.
I can feel the torque of 500Nm of the Duramax diesel on my way up through the muddy gully. And downhill the gradient braking function keeps the car from sliding. The fast-acting limited slip differential is standard on all Trailblazers, but where I am now the optional four-wheel drive and low range gears are a necessity.
As I said, I did drive this car before and I really liked it, now I love it. The next move would be to take it on an overland trip, via the Richtersveld into Namibia.
Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4×4 Z71
Engine 2.8-l. turbo diesel
Power 144kW and 500Nm
Top Speed 180 km/h
0-100km/h 10.4 seconds
Price R634 500