We’ve tow-tested Colorado, but how does its seven-seat SUV equiv­a­lent fare and com­pare when loaded up with two-tonne?

New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - Story & pho­tos: Dean Evans

Putting Holden’s Trail­blazer to the tow test, to fit in with the is­sue’s seven-seat theme.

HOLDEN’S COLORADO UTE HAS PROVEN it­self many times over the past year. In top-spec Z71 guise, it al­most won our ‘Ute-lympics’ test (May/june 2018) in a split de­ci­sion with Ranger, and its 2.8-litre Du­ra­max turbo diesel is a dy­namic pack­age, mix­ing power (147kw), torque (500Nm) and econ­omy (8.7l/100km).

Set­ting the pace amongst the four/five­cylin­der dual cabs, it man­ages 0-100km/h in 10.2 sec­onds, is well equipped and com­fort­able. So it’s not dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand how good the Trail­blazer Z71 would be with all those iden­ti­cal at­tributes trans­ferred into its seven-seat SUV body. A sec­ond and third row of seats, ex­tra fan con­trols and roof vents and glass all add just 20kg to the to­tal weight bill, with the com­fort of an en­closed body and the prac­ti­cal­ity of use­able space for peo­ple or pack­ages. With an im­proved turn­ing cir­cle of 12m (versus Colorado’s 12.7m), the Trail­blazer seem­ingly copies all the Colorado does, in a more pas­sen­ger­friendly pack­age. But can it tow?

That’s what we wanted to find out, but first we es­tab­lished some com­pa­ra­ble un­laden per­for­mance fig­ures – and dis­cov­ered a pleas­ant sur­prise. This white Trail­blazer rolled off 0-100km/h in 9.8 sec­onds, main­tain­ing that ad­van­tage down the full quar­ter-mile. Turbo boost was the same 17psi, so there was noth­ing un­to­ward, just a very strong, clearly well run-in 3500km ex­am­ple.

So we hit up our friends at Ken­nards Hire Hamil­ton, who sup­plied and hitched up the bal­last, around 2.2 tonne of com­pact roller and trailer, rep­re­sent­ing al­most 75 per­cent of its 3000kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity – which is 500kg lower than Colorado.

A wire­less brak­ing unit was plugged into the 12v socket, the trailer hitched up, chained and lights plugged in, and we were off to­wards our stan­dard Hamil­ton-raglan­hamil­ton tow test loop.

Im­me­di­ately, the ex­tra weight is ob­vi­ous as the Trail­blazer care­fully an­gles out onto the road, with the Holden work­ing a lit­tle harder to get up to speed. A quick zero-to60km/h check and com­par­i­son re­sulted in 7.8 sec­onds (vs 3.8 secs un­laden), a solid 52 per­cent in­crease in the time taken. The time is ac­tu­ally half-a-sec­ond slower than the Colorado we tow-tested a year ago,

Trail­blazer Z71 seem­ingly has and does ev­ery­thing that Colorado does, in a seven-seat SUV body.

which was pulling a slightly heav­ier load.

Away from split­ting tenths against the clock, and onto the B-road past Whatawhata, the Trail­blazer is in its el­e­ment, rarely need­ing all 500Nm to ef­fort­lessly pull the load around like it’s tow­ing lawn clip­pings to the re­cy­cling cen­tre. There’s no ill-ef­fect to the steer­ing, no un­wanted sway­ing, and it tracks true and easy with the en­gine and six-speed auto gear­box prov­ing a very ca­pa­ble pair­ing. And while it may have a lad­der frame, the ride qual­ity proves very com­pli­ant, com­fort­able and cushy with­out any wal­low.

We hit the first big hills while hold­ing con­stant one-third throt­tle and the speed drops to 80km/h. Squeez­ing to half throt­tle, the gear­box down­shifts to fourth and revs bump to 2250rpm and it pow­ers back up to 90km/h, and stays there for the climb. Eas­ing off again to let speed fall to 70 for a sec­ond chal­lenge, a floored throt­tle kicks the gear­box down to third gear and the Z71 pow­ers up the climb from 2400rpm, but the re­al­ity is it just doesn’t need full throt­tle to main­tain speed: half-throt­tle up hills, less on the flats nat­u­rally, has it hum­ming along with­out is­sue.

Through the tighter, twist­ing sec­tions, the gear­box is down to sec­ond gear at times, but the en­gine has so much torque and boost on tap, just squeeze the throt­tle a lit­tle and the dis­tant whis­tle of the turbo pumps in the power, so that turns and in­clines sim­ply be­come a mat­ter of place­ment in the lane rather than try­ing to

Squeeze the throt­tle in fifth at 90km/h and it doesn’t shuf­fle through gears, in­stead choos­ing to draw on its moun­tain­ous 500Nm

main­tain speed.

Cruis­ing along the flats at 90km/h, it happily sits on 1750rpm in fifth gear right in the meat of its torque band; squeeze the throt­tle and it uses its am­ple torque rather than shift­ing through gears, stay­ing in fifth gear and pil­ing on (or main­tain­ing) speed with­out com­plaint. While it’s pos­si­ble to man­u­ally se­lect sixth and sit on 1400rpm for the­o­ret­i­cally bet­ter fuel use, it re­ally needs 100km/h for that to be ef­fec­tive; the con­clu­sion is that it’s bet­ter (which the gear­box in Drive mode agrees) in fifth gear, cruis­ing along us­ing 11l/100km at 90km/h.

As per our usual tow test, Raglan town cen­tre is lit­tle more than a place to U-turn, as we hit the same hills on the re­turn leg back to Hamil­ton and Ken­nards Hire’s re­turn bay.

At the end of our loop, we’re just as im­pressed by the Trail­blazer as we were by the Colorado – and in some ways, even more, with great ride com­fort and road-hold­ing. And then there’s the fuel bonus, with a fuel use av­er­age of just 13.4l/100km, mak­ing it one of the most fru­gal tow tests we’ve done and more than a litre-per-100km less than our Colorado

tow test (granted, with heav­ier load) over the same road. Es­pe­cially when com­pared to our non-tow­ing time with Trail­blazer that re­sulted in mostly mo­tor­way driv­ing of 9.2l/100km; the penalty at the pump is rel­a­tively mi­nor.

So ute or SUV, the Trail­blazer and Colorado are equally im­pres­sive and each vari­ant is a very strong horse for their re­spec­tive slightly dif­fer­ent course. Thanks to: Ken­nards Hire Hamil­ton, 07 834 4090 www.ken­nard­

Above: Ken­nards Hire Hamil­ton came to the tow­ing party with 2.2 tonne of rental trailer and roller.

Left: Trail­blazer has a 3000kg tow­ing limit, com­pared to Colorado’s 3500kg. Cen­tre: Wire­less brake con­troller sup­plied by Ken­nards Hire plugs into 12v socket and con­trols amount of brake force to aid trailer safety and sta­bil­ity. Right: Fuel use at the end of the loop is very im­pres­sive, and at 13.4l/100km, isn’t much more than the un­laden 9.2l/100km, es­pe­cially given we were tow­ing more than two-tonne!

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