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2018 Chevrolet Trailblazer Z71 Review (With Video)

The best value for money in the segment. It looks menacing in black, too.

Black Panther

The Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the bowtie brand’s best selling vehicles in this SUV-loving country. Interestingly, this generation of the Trailblazer came out in 2013, two to three years before the wave of new generation pick-up based passenger vehicles (PPV) came out. One could even credit Chevrolet (along with Isuzu’s MU-X, which is shares its basic architecture with) for being one of the first manufacturers to release a new generation PPV. Unfortunately, Chevrolet’s timing also placed it at a disadvantage. Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Ford released their new generation of PPVs from 2015 up to 2017, which meant that the Trailblazer’s rivals were able to create PPVs with better refinement, more advanced technology, and superior driving dynamics. As such, Chevrolet fought back by giving the Trailblazer a much needed upgrade in 2017. How does it stack up among the competition? Let’s find out.

Exterior

Gone is the previous model’s large, bulging front grille, replaced with a more cohesive and angular grille that manages to look sleek and tidy. The grille is cleanly flanked by a pair of multi-reflector automatic halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lights, and the design of the headlamps now cleanly complement the car’s grille, too. Chevrolet Philippines lent us this Trailblazer in Black Meet Kettle, and I have to say, I am seriously digging the way it looks. With the black on black scheme provided by the wheels, paint, and the car’s black trim pieces, the Trailblazer looks so menacing that even Batman would want one. Its matte black hood decals, black mirrors, and black door handles all help make the Trailblazer have a lot of character. It is so good looking in fact that during the loan period, I called it “Black Panther”, while some of my friends called it the “Batmobile”. If there’s one comment I have to make though, it would be the rear design, as it remained almost unchanged.

Interior

Its predecessor’s interior was plasticky and a bit tacky in some places, starting from the Camaro-inspired gauge cluster, all the way to the circle-themed climate controls. With its competitors offering interiors with high quality soft touch materials, as well as a better fit and finish, Chevrolet’s designers went back to the drawing board and completely redesigned the dashboard. It now has one of the best interiors in its class, with a dashboard design directly derived from the American-market Chevrolet Colorado. There’s now a padded and stitched dashboard that follows a mainly horizontal theme, while the buttons and switchgear have a better and heftier feel now. There are still plenty of hard plastics, but this has mainly been relegated to places the driver and front passenger will rarely touch. One neat design trait that I really like are the climate control information screens, which are housed inside the temperature and fan speed knobs, just like what one would see in an Audi TT or Audi R8.

Space and Practicality

Measuring 4,887 mm long, 1,902 mm wide, and 1,852 mm tall, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the larger competitors in its segment, and its large exterior dimensions are translated into the interior as well. There’s plenty of space for all three rows, with the third row of seats just being able to fit my 5 foot 10 inch frame at just a push. Its third row of seats is also one of the most comfortable among its competitors, mainly due to its higher sitting height, which meant my knees aren’t up to my ears. At the second row, the Trailblazer is also wide enough to accommodate three adults seated abreast with no problem, and that same spaciousness is also translated to the first row of seats.

With a 6-way power adjustable front driver’s seat, drivers will be able to find their ideal sitting position, but unfortunately, like all of its competitors, the Trailblazer also does not have a telescoping steering wheel. Nevertheless, this is a quirk that drivers will be able to adjust to anyway. The seats themselves are comfortable enough for long journeys, though I think it could do with a little more lateral and side support.

Unfortunately, due to the Traiblazer’s taller third row seats, the trunk has a high loading lip that makes loading items hard for the vertically challenged. Your pooch also might find it challenging to jump up to the trunk as well. Nevertheless, all two rows of seats fold flat, and there’s also a false floor behind the third row of seats that provide additional storage. At least it’s still a better solution than what Toyota is trying to sell you in its Fortuner.

Features, Safety, and Infotainment

Like many cars nowadays, the Chevrolet Trailblazer is fitted with a touch screen infotainment system, which is called MyLink in this case. MyLink is one of the better infotainment systems out there, with large icons, instantaneous response, and high resolution graphics. Unlike systems from third party manufacturers like AVT, MyLink’s menus are intuitive, well clustered, and easy to look for. If you don’t fancy using the MyLink’s operating system, it also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, which intuitively links my iPhone 7 Plus to the car’s infotainment system. Navigation is not offered, but if you have an Android smartphone, Waze can be projected through Android Auto, or you could use Apple Maps, which unfortunately no decent human being uses.

We commend Chevrolet Philippines for offering features such as Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Traction Control, and Electronic Stability Control. Go Flat Out believes that any form of electronic stability control should be offered on all cars as standard. Additionally, the Trailblazer is equipped with the latest and greatest in active safety, namely Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, and Forward Collision Alert. Blind Spot Warning works intuitively, even when you’re at a stoplight, whereas many of the systems of its competitors deactivate when you creep below a certain speed. Meanwhile, Rear Cross Traffic is very handy in a country like the Philippines, where vehicles rarely stop for you when reversing out of a parking lot and into the open road, preventing a rear collision from happening. The information from the Rear Cross Traffic Alert is relayed into the rear view camera through arrows on which direction the vehicle is coming from.

One of my favorite features of the Traiblazer is its Remote Engine Start, which is something I used all the time whenever I left the Trailblazer out in the afternoon sun. Rather than suffering from a hot car interior, the Trailblazer was able to turn on the engine, run the climate control on full blast, as well as roll down the windows, which are all operated through the key fob. After regularly using this feature, this was something I now hope that every car in the Philippines should have at least as an option.

Powertrain

The Chevrolet Trailblazer’s key highlight is its 2.8-liter inline-4 Duramax diesel engine that produces 200 hp @ 3,800 rpm and 500 Nm of torque @ 2,000 rpm. Power is sent through an electronically controlled 4×4 system via a 6-speed automatic transmission.

How It Drives

As you climb aboard the Trailblazer, you will notice that the windows will drop down, and this occurs as well when you open the front passenger door. This is due to the thicker glass utilized by Chevy in order to improve the car’s refinement. Its curved and thicker design consequently creates a vacuum that prevents the front doors from closing if the windows are not opened. As you start the vehicle, a quiet rattle will emanate into the cabin, but once you go outside, the Duramax engine is quite audible. The engine is not the best in terms of refinement, but the reductions in cabin NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) help make the Trailblazer a quieter car than before.

The refinement improvements also translates to the rest of the driving experience. Compared to its predecessor, the Trailblazer’s road and wind noise have been minimized, feeling more hushed than ever at triple digit speeds. As you cruise down the highway, one will also notice that Trailblazer’s linear power delivery. Though its 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine produces best-in-class figures of 200 hp and 500 Nm of torque, the way the torque is delivered isn’t as punchy as I find in Ford’s 3.2-liter inline-5 Duratorq engine, wherein the Ford mill’s torque is at a very usable low RPM range. Once the revs build to the mid-RPM ranges, the power delivery becomes strong and snappy, and that’s where most of the power and torque are felt in this Duramax mill. The 6-speed automatic also does a great job of putting the car into the right gear, though for better control, tiptronic +/- manual shifting is available.

Tootling in the city shows one of the Trailblazer’s strengths, and that is its ride. With its 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in relatively thick Bridgestone Dueler H/T 684 II 265/60 R18T tires, road imperfections are filtered even before the impacts reach the suspension, and yet, the suspension does a goob job of ironing out any large ruts and bumps that the thick tires can’t filter out. This excellent ride quality is provided by independent double wishones at the front and 5-link coil springs at the back. Both front and rear suspension systems have good travel that also helps when taking the Trailblazer off to the beaten path.

Its electronic power steering is also excellent, providing decent weighting, precision, and stability at high speeds, while also being very light and easy to use in low speed maneuvers such as when parking. It’s not the quickest steering, nor the one that provides the most feel, but it gets the job done confidently enough for the driver to know what the front wheels are doing. Take the Trailblazer enthusiastically through some corners, and its soft suspension will let you know its girth and weight. It is stable and body movements are controlled, but there’s only so much a suspension with a solid rear axle can do to control a midsize ladder-frame SUV’s body movements. It’s no Mazda CX-5, but for an SUV having such a soft suspension, it handles body movements well enough.

Despite its power and large size, the Chevrolet Trailblazer under my hands registered a decent 10-11.28 km/l fuel economy, and this is even when I brought it to Greenhills passing through EDSA. I guess living in the Sta. Rosa, Laguna area has its perks, too, as extreme traffic like EDSA is something that’s unknown to South folks like us.

On The Downside

Despite its improvements in NVH, the Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Montero Sport are much more hushed, with almost petrol engine-like levels of interior refinement. There’s only so much that a facelift can do as compared to its competitors that were in their due date for an all-new generation model when the Trailblazer’s facelift came out.

Verdict

The Chevrolet Trailblazer may be showing its age against its competitors with an all-new platform, engine, and body, but priced as it is right now, the Chevrolet Trailblazer has one of the best value among the competition. Priced at P1,998,888, the Trailblazer is the most affordable among the top trim competition. Simply consider all the advanced safety gear you get for your money, and you’ll immediately see what I mean. For a facelift, the Trailblazer has underwent quite a comprehensive one, enough for it to still compete head on within its segment at a price that also makes it one of the best value for money. In a crowded arena such as the midsize PPV segment, one must have a unique trait that will attract customers to their showrooms. If I were to name the Chevrolet Trailblazer’s strength, it would be its excellent ride and value for money proposition. This American midsize SUV should be on your short list.

More Photos

Price: P1,998,888

Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Features: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Safety: ★★★★★
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★★

Overall: 4.4 out of 5

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