Monday, April 8, 2013

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Trailblazer (2005-2008)

Contemplating an American SUV without the bulk? This week, Myk Belmonte pulls some magic strings for you.

2005-2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer

During the nineties, the American mid-size SUV battle was dominated by the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee. The General wanted to get a slice of the market share but they are doing well in the large SUV segment, with the Tahoe to be credited for this. While the Blazer is a decent seller, the Explorer and GC sold more units. So, when the Trailblazer was made available, it was a success (which we will talk about on the next paragraph) for GM.

Introduced as a top of the line variant of the predecessor from 1999 to 2001, it became a standalone model for 2002. Definitely light years ahead from the model it replaced and utilizes the GMT360 platform. As market fads dictate it, crossover SUV's are the trend and affecting the Trailblazer. With decreasing sales, GM had no choice but to discontinue it and the Traverse being the successor. Although the nameplate was reborn in 2012, this has no connection to the USDM developed model sold previously.

With the previous distributor thinking that the Suburban and Tahoe is too big for Filipino tastes, they decided to bring the Trailblazer in late 2004. It was a coincidence that the Explorer was also introduced in that time period and CATS Motors offering the second generation Durango in the middle of 2005. 2009 was the last year for this SUV, with both 4x2 and 4x4 models being offered in a seven seater configuration known as the EXT.

Value and Costs
If you think American SUV, it should be large but the realities of small roads and practicality is there. So if you want a true blooded American SUV, a second hand Trailblazer can cost you P450,000-P800,000 that encompasses 2004 to the last 2009 units. Interestingly enough, the Explorer and the Durango of the same period can be acquired at this price range.

Fuel consumption is not wallet draining but spare parts can be hard to source, especially if you don't know where to buy them. But now, there are shops that specialize in American cars and befriend the manager there to get good prices and high availability on their parts. You can go through the online route and order the components you need.

Exterior and Interior
At first glance, the exterior is generic and bland. Sure, it may have some muscle and the trademark headlight that merges with the front grille, but still, its boring as a box of soap. Being narrow has an advantage over our small streets, this one is easy to maneuver than the Explorer.

Enough of nitpicking the styling, practicality is the main forte with passengers and their cargo can expect a very roomy interior, which cannot be said with the Blue Oval. For the price, the number of standard amenities justifies the price but the voice recorder is a novelty.

The sole engine choice among PHDM Trailblazers is a Atlas LL8 4,160 I6 that carries 275hp at 6,000rpm and 373Nm at 3,600rpm. This power plant is impressive, with a smooth power delivery and high levels of refinement which rivals having the same engine displacement levels may not possess (read: rough and coarse). For those eyeing a 4WD unit, an electronic four-wheel drive system which is advanced comes standard. Bet you didn't know that the Atlas engine was included on the Ward's 10 Best Engines list from launch up to 2005.

Driving Impressions
Behind the wheel of the Trailblazer is mixed. While handling is manageable, tossing this SUV is dead and lifeless than the larger Expedition. Driver or passenger, you wont be experiencing any floaty ride especially when traversing the expressway. Comfort is tops even on the uneven road surfaces.

Want to be different from the ubiquitous Japanese SUV's of the same price and period? Then the Trailblazer is the one to get. Practical in the sense and gas consumption is not that worrying like the big brothers, it is the appropriate Yankee SUV for the Filipino consumer. Just remember to forgive the steering and the cheapo interior.

The Good:
  • Appropriately sized
  • Impressive power from the inline six
  • More features for the buck
The Bad:
  • Lifeless steering
  • Cheapo interior (for a then million bucks SUV)
  • Trembles in fear when cornering
The Pick: 4x2 variant is more than enough

Engine: 4,160 Atlas LL8 I6 gasoline
Power: 275hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 373Nm @ 3,600rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-6km/L (city), 9-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear five-link with coil springs

Price (New): P2,295,000-P2,395,000
Price (Now): P450,000-P800,000
Rivals: Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Mitsubishi Pajero
On Sale: Late 2004-2009 

Chevrolet Makati - (02) 867-8183
Chevrolet Pasig - (02) 672-1485
Chevrolet Quezon Avenue - (02) 374-1250

Photos courtesy of

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