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