TRAILBLAZER is a new name for what was previously called the Colorado 7; a seven-seat wagon based on the Colorado ute, in this case the much-revised MY17 Colorado.
All the detail changes of the ute have been made with the wagon; although, with the suspension, only the dampers on the wagon have been changed whereas the ute gets new springs, dampers and front swaybar.
As with the ute the vast majority of the changes are aimed at addressing refinement issues found in the previous model. Over Colorado 7 the Trailblazer also gets a new dash and more tech kit such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, as well as embedded sat-nav in the top-spec model.
We tested the Trailblazer LTZ. The cheaper LT gets 17s but loses tyre-pressure monitoring, embedded sat-nav, heated leather seats, driver’s electric adjustment, premium audio, auto wipers, climate control and all the high-end safety features such as the forward collision, lane-departure, rear cross-traffic and blind-spot incursion warnings.
The Trailblazer driving experience is very similar to that of the dual-cab Colorado on which it’s based. In fact, as both of our test vehicles were the same spec level, you could be forgiven for forgetting which vehicle you were driving at times. That’s more of a compliment on the Colorado’s improved ride quality than a criticism of the Trailblazer’s.
With the same dash layout and trim materials as its sibling, most testers found the cabin of the Trailblazer to be functional and well-designed but, once again, the dark plastic trim showed up every speck of dust that landed on its surface – and it also wouldn’t respond well to the fingerprints of kids.
Engine performance is good with plenty of low-rpm torque and good power delivery throughout the rev range, and the six-speed auto transmission offers smooth shifts and a good spread of ratios. The part-time shift-on-the-fly 4x4 system is effective enough, but you have to remember to disengage 4x4 once you’re back on the blacktop.
Road, wind and engine noise suppression have been improved which makes the Trailblazer more comfortable on long drives, and a fuel-consumption average of 12.1L/100km endows the Trailblazer with a touring range just shy of 600km.
Slightly better ramp-over angle courtesy of its shorter wheelbase meant the Trailblazer bottomed out less frequently than the Colorado on big mitre drains, but its plastic sidesteps are just as susceptible to damage out on the trails. We know, because we broke one.
With plenty of low-down poke and reasonable low-range reduction, the Trailblazer climbed steep hills without a problem on test and over-bonnet visibility was good. However, engine braking wasn’t effective on steep descents.
SET-PIECE HILL CLIMB
Like the Colorado, the Holden Trailblazer didn’t like our set-piece hill climb, struggling for grip in the dry dirt when the limits of wheel travel were reached.
The shorter wheelbase and coil-spring rear suspension of the Trailblazer made little difference to its progress; the traction control system was unable to prevent wheelspin and the driving line had to be adjusted significantly to eventually make a successful ascent, avoiding the deepest of the holes on the hill climb. The lack of a rear diff lock and the calibration of the traction-control system did the Trailblazer no favours here.
CABIN, EQUIPMENT AND ACCOMMODATION
The Trailblazer LTZ is well-equipped with standard leather trim, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and active safety features such as tyre-pressure monitor, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, trailer-sway control, roll-over mitigation, front and rear park assist, and reversing camera.
The second-row tumble fold seats have a 60/40 split for easy access to the third row. Try to put three adults across the second row and the outer passengers will complain of a lack of shoulder room; although legroom is adequate and there are air-conditioning vents in the roof.
Setting up the third-row seats isn’t easy. First you have to remove the cargo blind and stow it in a compartment under the cargo floor, then you have to reach forward to pull the seats up. However, once set up you can fit two adults in there with adequate legroom and almost enough headroom. There’s good visibility for third-row passengers, as well as a couple of air-conditioning vents. In summary, the Trailblazer is a better seven-seat wagon than some of its competitors.
The Trailblazer LTZ comes standard with 18-inch wheels shod with 265/60R18 Bridgestone Duelers. The standard tyre-pressure monitor could end up saving you big bucks if you do a lot of gravel-road and off-road driving.
The under-bonnet layout is the same as the Colorado, which means the alternator, ECU and other electrics are all located up high, the air intake is via the inner guard, and you’ll need at least a spanner to access the air filter. There’s also not much room for a second battery.
“Despite the huge improvement over the Colorado 7, if you’re looking for a tough touring wagon, the Trailblazer probably isn’t the wagon you’re looking for,” 4X4OTY judge David Cook said.
A reasonable tourer with good equipment levels and accommodation for seven, the Trailblazer LTZ falls short on off-road capability and its part-time 4x4 system is now considered old-school for this class of family wagon.
While the name may have changed, the underpinnings of the Trailblazer with regard to suspension are the same as the previous Colorado 7. As such, the front strut components are common with the Colorado ute, and Tough Dog offers two rear springs (0-300kg and constant 300kg+ load). Price ranges from $1340 to $1660, depending on options selected.
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Max Power: 147kW @ 3600rpm
Max Torque: 500Nm @ 2000rpm
Gearbox: six-speed automatic
4x4 system: dual-range part-time
Crawl ratio: 36.4:1
Tyre spec: 265/60R18 110T
Kerb weight: 2203kg
Towing capacity: 3000kg
Fuel tank capacity: 76 litres
ADR Fuel claim: 8.2L/100km
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