Trail­blazer finds its way

Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVEWAY -

When you think about it, it’s rather sur­pris­ing ute­based SUVs don’t sell bet­ter than they do.

They of­fer ba­si­cally all the ad­ven­tur­ous perks of their dual-cab donors, while adding a more com­fort­able sus­pen­sion and the con­ve­nience of a big boot and/or ex­tra row of seats.

Given more and more fam­i­lies are go­ing for utes, you’d think the above pack­age would ap­peal to many. And yet, ute-based SUVs are nowhere near dual-cab sales. Take the Trail­blazer, which has 1301 sales to its name so far this year, com­pared with its Colorado cousin’s 9696.

Af­ter a week in the en­try-level LT, we think the Trail­blazer de­serves a bit more love.

The 2.8-litre diesel works well with the trans­mis­sion and nearly all of the am­ple torque seems to be avail­able from low in the rev range.

How­ever, it doesn’t escape its com­mer­cial ori­gins. The en­gine is still noisy and there is am­ple vi­bra­tion at idle, while the steer­ing wheel’s reach can't be ad­justed.

Oth­ers in the seg­ment may do a bet­ter job of be­ing re­fined but you’ll pay more than the LT's $47,990 en­try point.

And you get a de­cent amount of gear for the money: Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto, seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen and au­to­matic head­lights are all present.

Un­for­tu­nately the LT misses out on the higher grade’s safety tech. The in­te­rior is also pretty stan­dard en­try-level fare – hard plas­tics, cloth seats – but the big, ro­bust switchgear suits the ve­hi­cle and the ma­te­ri­als will be hardy to with­stand the abuse dished out to it.

And rugged, out­doors fun is why you'd go for Trail­blazer in the first place.

The en­gine’s 500Nm is among the most torque on of­fer – es­pe­cially in this price range – mean­ing it can tow 3000kg and also has trailer sway con­trol.

You also get a lot of cabin space, with even adults able to use the third row where there are air vents, stor­age op­tions and cup hold­ers.

With seats six and seven stowed, you can fit 554 litres of cargo up to the belt-line, or 878 litres to the roof, though the cargo bay floor is quite high.

There’s an easy dial to switch from 2H to 4L, though there is no diff lock as in some com­peti­tors.

Ver­dict: The Trail­blazer LT of­fers a lot of space and ca­pa­bil­ity in a pretty af­ford­able and com­fort­able pack­age.

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