A week with the new Chevrolet Trailblazer!
Does it bring anything new to such a crowded segment?
The new Trailblazer has a very nice and pleasant design. Which gives it a friendly personality. I have actually seen a few people noticing it while I was driving it. And it seems to be one of the fastest-selling cars these days, so I would say most people really like the design.
Same thing inside. Chevrolet did a great job with the interior. Not only does it look good, but the materials are top-notch. And I really like the various materials used (like the grey cloth mixed in with the leather) The stitches on the seat and dash do look great and quite premium (they don't always do..)
I was also pleasantly surprised by how solid everything feels. The switchgear especially. And the doors have a very solid an reassuring sound when you close them. The Trailblazer really makes quite an effort to make you think you bought a more expensive car...
The main gripe I have with the interior is the placement of the remote charging mat. Which is right under the climate controls, in a very dark area. And since this means the phone is never physically connected to anything (thanks also to wireless Carplay) I actually forgot the phone in the car a couple of times.
I think you should still be able to see your phone. Although that is probably something you get used to if you drive this every day...
It also can be ordered with a wonderful panoramic sunroof. Something most of its competition does not even offer.
On the road, I was really curious about GM's new 3 cylinder engine. My test car had the larger 1.3 Liter option. And the 9-speed auto (which is standard on the AWD models)
I have driven cars with 3 cylinder engines before. Like the Ford Fiesta. And, especially, the super cool Citroen Cactus I rented while in Europe a few years ago.
The engine sounds wonderful. It is super quiet and smooth 90% of the time. And of course, not so much when you push it hard. (although it is almost completely silent at idle) But the sound you do hear is very pleasant. At least to me. It is different and actually gives the car quite a personality. To me, this, when pushed, sounds better than most 4 cylinder engines.
But, this is not a car that is meant to be pushed or driven fast. Just like all of its competition. These are sold as small crossovers. I think the smooth and quiet engine also has plenty of power for what it is. It does feel much faster than the Honda HR-V. And maybe about the same as the Hyundai Kona Turbo. But really, you would have to drive these cars back to back to really be able to tell.
The 9 speed auto works perfectly. It always seems to be eager to downshift if you want a bit more power.
The first thing I noticed was how artificial the steering feel was. Of course, you get used to it after a while, but it never feels that great...
The suspension is always comfortable, although a little bit on the firm side. Even with the thicker, more off-road-oriented tires on the Activ version. Which brings me to the major issue I had with the car: road noise.
It starts creeping up at over 35MPH around town. But it does get really bad at freeway speed. Surprisingly bad... (The tires on the Activ version are Hankook Dynapro AT2 all-terrains.) I really like the look of the Activ version, inside and out. But unless you are willing to always turn the sound system up a bit when you drive, I would steer toward the more on-road-oriented versions of the Trailblazer.
And by the way, the Bose system on my test car sounded pretty fantastic...
The Trailblazer AWD 1.3 is rated at 26 City and 30HWY MPG. Being careful, I was able to get 25/26 around town. But had no problem getting about 34MPG on the freeway.
I really enjoyed driving the new Trailblazer Activ. It actually has a bit of a personality. (Mostly because of it s great engine) But the road noise would keep me away from getting the Activ version. (Unless you are used to a Jeep Wrangler or something that noisy)
Althouugh the Trailblazer starts at a really low $19 000, my loaded Activ model was priced at $33 000.(Active AWD starts at $27 000) Which is quite a bit of money. And just a few $1000s aways from larger very well equipped Crossovers.
Be carfeul with options, watch for discounts, and you'll be getting a really good car.