Text and photos by Eric Tipan
Introduced in 2013, the Chevrolet Trailblazer has slowly become one of the more popular mid-sized SUVs. Thanks to class-leading power from its 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel engine, it was also the only model, at that time, with an 800-millimeter wading depth.
Four years later, The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI), the exclusive importer and distributor of Chevrolet vehicles and parts in the Philippines, spruces up the Trailblazer by offering it with a Z71 performance and appearance package.
I take it out for a weekend to see and feel the improvements of the 2017 Chevy Trailblazer Z71 4×4 AT.
LEAN AND ATHLETIC
The Trailblazer with the Z71 appearance package is without a doubt, the most macho-looking truck in the market right now. It comes with the same dimensions but cuts a leaner figure thanks to aesthetic improvements that also complete its rough and sporty look.
A wide black stripe on the hood with the Z71 badge on the bottom right is its ultimate highlight but not to say that it’s the only one. Part of the ‘package’ to complement the Summit White body are black side-view mirror housings and door handles, the Gun Metal Black aluminum 18-inch wheels, and a new headlamp design that now comes with daytime running lamps.
This exterior look, with the stripes and all, may not come with mass appeal as it does seem to target a specific niche market. But it sure turned a lot of heads during the four days I was driving around with it.
As I opened the front door, the first thing I noticed was the front door glass came down by a couple of inches — normal in sports cars but the first time for me to encounter it on a mid-sized SUV.
The reason being is, with a front door glass that’s now 10-percent thicker as part of a new wind noise package, which includes new window and windshield seals that make the new Trailblazer eight percent quieter on the road, auto-cracking the window open just a bit prevents pressure from hurting your ears when you close the door.
Part of the update is a newly designed dashboard and front console that comes with an eight-inch touchscreen display sporting the Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment System. It has Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free and voice recognition software. If you still fancy pressing buttons, the leather-wrapped steering wheel has some for cruise control, radio and your mobile phone.
Legroom for the first and second row occupants won’t be an issue, but if you draw the straw for the two-seater third row, space will be problem if you’re a regular-sized adult.
CLASS-LEADING POWER AND NEW SAFETY FEATURES
Variable geometry turbocharging sends 202 PS and 500 Nm of torque straight to the new Trailblazer’s six-speed automatic transmission, and it is considerable.
Even with a hefty 4×4 drive system, the new Electronic Power Steering makes it lighter to turn as you make U-turns or maneuver through tight parking spaces.
The other half of the Z71 package is ‘performance’ and on the new Trailblazer, it comes in the form of these safety features: a Traction Control System, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Some these features come only in top-of-the-line models of other brand that are well over the P2-million mark. Chevy offers this trim complete with all of the above at just below P1.9-million.
SUV WITH THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
The ride is undoubtedly much softer now, making the overall experience more comfortable. Thanks to higher Noise, Vibration and Harshness protection, even the diesel clatter is hardly audible.
Acceleration is terrific and its power can fool you into thinking you’re cruising, until you notice you’re at 130kph and rising. If the highway is clear, use cruise control so your heavy foot won’t get you into trouble. It used up a combined 8.6 kilometers per liter over my four-day test drive.
It has cutting-edge tech inside to keep up with the gadgets that you use, including a key fob that can start the engine remotely and interior space that’s 16-ways configurable to handle a variety of cargo.
Priced at P1,881,000, it also offers a combination of top-notch safety features no other model in this segment offers collectively. For that price, performance and a long list of exclusive features, the 2017 Chevy Trailblazer 2.8L Z71 4×4 AT is a true value-for-money SUV.