|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
You’re probably thinking: how can a gearbox change do wonders for the Trailblazer? Well, the simple answer is: the changes aren’t just limited to slapping on a new transmission and calling it a day. No sir. Chevrolet has worked and worked hard to re-engineer the Trailblazer’s entire drivetrain transforming it from the clattery and noisy thing that it was, into the best there is. The Trailblazer sports the 2.8-liter version of the Duramax motor, but for 2014, both power and torque have been bumped to an even 200 horsepower at 3,800 rpm and 500 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. This easily makes it the most powerful in its class. But more than just raw power, the Trailblazer has much improved NVH isolation. It’s now comfortably quiet at idle and is refined at higher revs. In fact, the sound from the blow-off valve is much more noticeable than the diesel sound track.
Mated to this much improved motor is a carryover of the 6-speed automatic with a sequential shift override. It’s a very smooth gearbox and helps keep the engine revs down to maximize fuel economy (though sixth gear is rarely used; engaging only at speeds approaching 100 km/h). An even more surprisingly characteristic though is how the transmission maintains the engine revs at exactly 3,800 rpm, ensuring that the Trailblazer uses maximum power when the accelerator’s pressed to the floor. The sudden surge in power is enough to dig you into the driver’s seat, so it’s best to let passengers know in advance when you plan to engage attack mode. During a week’s worth of driving, the Trailblazer 4x2 A/T returns 9.80 km/L in the city and 18.18 km/L on the highway. Cruise control isn’t available on this model.
In the city, the Trailblazer is great with its excellent visibility thanks to its commanding driving position and large mirrors. It’s easy to maneuver around and even park, despite the absence of any back-up sensors. The Double Wishbone front and Five-Link coil spring rear suspension ensures stability and returns a very comfortable ride, even for those seating at the back. As speeds build up though, the Trailblazer does have a slight tendency to hop over smaller bumps and ruts, causing some minor discomfort to only those in the third row. Despite being fitted with narrower 245/70R16 tires (the Trailblazer 4x4 uses 265/60R18), the Trailblazer 4x2 handles tidily and feels stable with controlled body roll. The steering is on the slow side, but that is a given because this is a mid-sized SUV after all. The four-wheel disc brakes also equate to a surefooted feel, especially at panic stops, though the pedal does have an initially mushy feel.
The not-so-subtle Sizzled Red may not be the choice of color for wallflowers, but it actually works in favor of the Trailblazer’s bold and modern design. Unlike other 7-seater SUVs that rely on tacked on plastic panels, the Trailblazer features a sleek and clean look thanks to stamped-in wheel arches. The rest of the body has a dominating presence with the large dual-port grille, sculpted bumpers, clamshell hood, flowing side crease, and the square-cut headlamps. Inside, it echoes the same story of modernity with nice, textured plastics and good, consistent fit and finish. All controls, from the power windows to the wiper stalks operate with a nice, solid action while the seats are supportive and offer ample adjustment. The second row is as comfortable as the first, thanks to adjustable headrests in all positions and good hip and back support. The third row isn’t as generous as the first two, but at least the two additional seats come in handy when the need arises.
For 2014, Chevrolet has speced up the Trailblazer. As a mid-grade variant, the 2.8 4x2 A/T doesn’t get things like leather seats or the fancy MyLink multimedia system, but it does come with the more important prerequisites like quality fabrics and a full-featured integrated audio system with USB input and Bluetooth hands-free. The multi-information display nestled in-between the Camaro-inspired gauges has also been upgraded and now includes new functions such as an Eco meter and a more advanced trip computer. Front and rear fog lights are standard equipment and so are dual SRS airbags and anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist.
Priced at P 1,488,888, the Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 4x2 A/T sits between the entry-level 2.5 4x2 M/T at P 1,378,888 and the range-topping 2.8 4x4 A/T at P 1,733,888. Though it gives up some luxury trimmings from the 4x4 to bring the costs down, it offers all the essentials to make this a great 7-seater SUV including that potent (and now refined) power plant. In short, this particular Chevrolet Trailblazer comes in as a great value-for-money proposition, especially for the 99 percent of us who don’t exactly plan to go off-road.
2014 Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 4x2 A/T
|Ownership||2.8 4x2 A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Mid-Sized SUV|
|Body Type||5-door Sport Utility Vehicle|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||200 @ 3,800|
|Nm @ rpm||500 @ 2,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||N/A|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||5-Link with Coil Spring|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (2nd), Yes, 50/50 (3rd)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||No|