Caught in crossfire
It’s a well-specified vehicle with average interior trim and it is struggling to gain traction against its competitors. The top-tier Trailblazer LTZ undercuts base versions of the Toyota Prado, the large SUV segment leader, but is in turn dearer than the Isuzu MU-X and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Holden’s three-year/ 100,000km warranty applies and the Trailblazer needs servicing every nine months or 15,000km. Each service is capped at $349, equating to $1396 over three years.
Leather trim, heated front seats, tyre pressure monitor and eight-inch touchscreen with Android/Apple smartphone connectivity are standard. The steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, which may compromise tailoring the ideal driving position. Lacking sufficient padding or bolstering, the front, middle and rear seats aren’t close to class-leading — but second row space is, with plenty of shoulder, leg and headroom. As in most seven-seaters, the third row is the domain of kids or teens.
The Trailblazer earned five stars from ANCAP, though in the frontal offset crash test the driver’s chest protection was marginal. Lane departure and blind spot warnings, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision alert are standard on the LTZ and there are seven airbags, with the curtain bags extending to the third row.
The Trailblazer leads the way in engine performance and transmission calibration and never feels stressed. It does sound loud, though, despite local work to suppress noise. The suspension is well adapted for on-road handling but is a touch too firm over consecutive off-road ruts, leading to a jittery rear end on surfaces where softer-sprung SUVs feel more composed. The 3000kg towing capacity is class average.
The pick of the seven-seat SUV bunch in terms of value, yet underrated. It comes with the reassurance of autonomous emergency braking.
Ford’s base model just undercuts the top-spec Trailblazer. It’s better built and the cabin feels classier but misses out on many of features that are standard in the Holden.
The Prado dominates this segment — Toyota sold more last month than the Trailblazer has done all year — but the entry model is still $4000 more. More refined, more expensive.
The Trailblazer is caught in no-man’s land and is coming under heavy fire from the likes of the MU-X and Pajero Sport, no-frills alternatives with a better warranty. It also lacks the interior fit and finish to challenge the likes of the Prado and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It must rely on the rorty engine to attract those seeking a solid workhorse or tow vehicle.