Saturday, September 17, 2016
First Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Trailblazer and Chevrolet Colorado
Chevrolet has one mission when it comes to updating the Trailblazer and Colorado. Knowing they have the segment’s best mechanicals that still deliver class-leading numbers, they simply needed to make both exude a more premium feel. Chevrolet acknowledges the criticisms leveled at their less than stellar interiors before, and now, they’ve come back with a vengeance. The 2017 Trailblazer and Colorado may very well be the best in their segments.
The change happens even before you see, let alone step inside one of these Chevrolets. Invigorating their employees with a passion for quality, the first order of business is to achieve new levels in assembly quality. Tightening process controls and adding automation processes enables the Rayong, Thailand assembly plant to reach new benchmark levels in quality.
Improved quality is just the first step. The next is to create a thoroughly modern, well thought of SUV and pickup truck. Leveraging a global development program as well as getting local market feedback, the result is the 2017 Colorado and Trailblazer.
Upfront, it’s far removed from its predecessor. It takes on a styling that echoes the North American trucks and that’s deliberate because Chevy wants to tap into its one hundred year truck heritage. The new squared off lights, large grille, and hood all play a part in transforming these machines into something more masculine. While all higher-end models benefit from beefy 18-inch alloy wheels, the Trailblazer Z71 looks off-road ready with the blacked out chrome, hood decals, and all-terrain Goodyear Wrangler tires.
Apart from aesthetics, work is done to refine the chassis to the point that Chevy cannot quantify the changes in a percentage. Everything from the engine and transmission mounts, stabilizer, springs, dampers, and seals have been changed or optimized. The end is impressive: 8 to 10 decibels quieter than before. Plus, there are crazy details like how the thicker front side glass necessitates a slight drop, coupe style, whenever the door is opened or closed to equalize air pressure; otherwise, the doors would be harder to shut.
Beyond the vastly improved NVH, Chevrolet is most proud of the new interior and they have every reason to be. It’s now genuinely a good place to spend some time in. The entire dashboard is fitted with soft-touch materials highlighted by stitched inserts. The new horizontal layout also promotes better ergonomics and usability while toggle switches that operate functions like the stability control and hazard lights are a nice touch. The over-styled Camaro gauges are now gone and in its place are straight-forward ones that are much more legible. Even the seats are new. Apart from the better leather material, it also incorporates various firmness rates to reduce pressure on the spine and back.
Chevrolet is also proud of the new infotainment system that’s essentially “Future Proof”. It offers the latest MyLink system that’s by far the easiest to use in the segment. It’s also intuitive with clean, crisp graphics and is lighting fast in operation. Plus, not only does it integrate GPS, voice recognition, and Bluetooth, but is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—the first in its class to do so.
Driving both vehicles on the road first, they immediately impress with their newfound refinement. The new electric power steering not only reduces steering effort (perfect for negotiating U-turns), but also gives better precision as the speeds build up. It makes the Trailblazer and Colorado much easier to navigate in tight city streets. On the highway, it lends better confidence thanks to less steering pull. On rougher roads, it mitigates any judder that otherwise might crawl up the steering rack. Both models now have a much more planted and stable feel thanks to the revised suspension. It also improves the overall riding comfort, though it’s pretty obvious that the unladen Colorado would ride firmer. The Trailblazer also has a noticeable edge in braking performance thanks to its four-wheel disc brakes with a larger booster for better pedal bite.
In this particular occasion, the drive didn’t require it, but it’s good to know that both the Trailblazer and Colorado now come up with a beefed up set of safety equipment. Both now have a driver’s knee airbag, tire pressure monitoring, lane departure warning, and front and rear parking assist. While, the Trailblazer builds on that by adding vehicle stability control, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and side blind zone warning.
Stepping onto the off-road course, both the Trailblazer and Colorado remain extremely capable in traversing any kind of terrain. It has all the same key numbers from before such as the approach, breakover, and departure angles, water wading depth, and ground clearance. Despite lacking a rear locking differential (or even stability control for the Colorado), it made short work of a 35-degree tilted road, 500-millimeter river crossing, large undulating mounds, and a 45-degree uphill climb. And in terms of power output, it keeps its king of the hill status: 200 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque from its 2.8-liter Duramax. What’s more, the shift to the electric power steering system means less parasitic power loss and improved emissions. Meanwhile, the lower-end models continue on with the 160 horsepower, 380 Nm of torque output.
Chevrolet recognizes that its brand recall isn’t as strong as they want it to be in this part of the world. However, they are planning to change that in a big way. With the 2017 Trailblazer and Colorado, Chevy has dug deep, making both the Trailblazer and Colorado lead their respective categories. More than ever, they’re now carrying Chevrolet’s century-long experience in building some of the best trucks in the world. In that regard, the Trailblazer and Colorado have signed, sealed, and delivered on the brand promise and heritage.
The 2017 Chevrolet Trailblazer and Colorado arrives in showrooms this October. The Trailblazer will be available in three models: 2.5 4x2 LT 6MT (P 1,378,888), 2.8 4x2 LT 6AT (P 1,509,888), and 2.8 4x4 Z71 6AT (P 1,881,888). While, the Colorado comes in four flavors: 2.5 4x2 LT 6MT (P 1,167,888), 2.8 4x2 LT 6AT (P 1,267,888), 2.8 4x4 LTZ 6MT (P 1,613,888), and 2.8 4x4 LTZ 6AT (P 1,689,888).