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Blazer to Trailblazer: Chevrolet launches the Fortuner rival





18 October 2012


The Chevrolet Trailblazer, on sale at the end of this month, launches today in Knysna. We drove the 2.8 LTZ 4×4 Auto through Eastern Cape a while ago, and you can catch Danie Botha’s full review of this much-awaited vehicle in the November issue of Leisure Wheels.

 

The history:

Over a decade ago, a similar SUV from Chevy, called the Blazer, was imported into SA by a few sole fanatics. It wasn’t terribly diverse – options included a 4,3 litre V6 petrol engine with a four-speed auto box, and, well that was it.

The new line up, competitively priced and giving buyers plenty of options, includes two 4x2s and three 4×4 models. Of course, the biggest piece of the Trailblazer’s background is the fact that it is aimed squarely at another marque’s vehicle: the Toyota Fortuner. Both are built on the chassis of a bakkie within the stable – in the Trailblazer’s case, it’s the Isuzu KB (and, internationally, the Holden Colorado pick-ups). With the Fortuner’s sales nearing the 1000-a-month mark, this is a playground that up until now has not been played in by many. While the Pajero Sport is an almost identical vehicle, sales dwindle around the 40-a-month mark, and the Ford Everest (which has slightly fewer 4×4 bells and whistles) hasn’t made a semblance of a dent in the Japanese company’s sales either. So, it’s with great ambition that GM brings the Trailblazer into our highly competitive local market, and for once, South Africa is getting a vehicle fresh off the production line.

Read more about the development of the Trailblazer from conception in 2006 until production today in Danie’s article in Leisure Wheels, November issue.

 

The car:

In contrast to its competitors, however, the Trailblazer already has the upper hand in one way – it’s new. Long criticised for old tech, mechanics and aesthetics, other bakkie-based SUVs will now have to compete with a 4×4 that benefits from the newest production techniques and advancements in equipment. They’re all made in the same place, however – Thailand – but the engine is from GM’s new range of 4-cylinder diesels (in the 2.8 LTZ 4×4, available in auto or manual). The line up then extends to a 4×2 version of this turbodiesel egine, a 3,6 petrol V6  (4×4 Auto), a smaller 2,5 turbodiesel manual 4×2. The vehicle has, like its competitors, a third row of seats, and is aimed at larger families who are looking for an all-rounder vehicle which fits in the monthly budget, but doesn’t require owning a second vehicle for either off-roading or day-to-day commuting purposes.

 

The specs:

Power figures:

2,5 litre: 110 kW @ 3300 r/min,  350 Nm @ 2000 r/min

2,8 litre: 132 kW @ 3800 r/min, 470 Nm @ 2000 r/min

3,6 litre: 176 kW @ 6600 r/min, 329 Nm @ 3200 r/min

Fuel consumption:

Fuel consumption for the combined cycle is reported at 8,2 l/100km for the 2,5 litre diesel and 8,8 l/100km for the 2,8 litre manual diesel. When supplied with the automatic transmission option fuel consumption for this higher torque model is an estimated 9,8 l/100km for the combined cycle.

Transmission:

5-speed manual transmission

The 5-speed manual transmission, available on the 2.5 and 2.8 litre diesel, features:

  • Hard gear finishing on all gears for precise tooth/surface contact. This enhances the NVH characteristic by reducing noise associated with gears meshing.
  • A dual mass flywheel designed for diesel engine applications is fitted to mitigate the effect of engine torsional vibration and in turn provide for smoother operation and lower noise (drivetrain rattle) than competitors in the segment.
  • A full hydraulic clutch release system to ensure smooth and comfortable operation together with noise isolation.

6-speed automatic transmission

The 6-speed automatic transmission offered with the 2,8 litre diesel and 3,6 litre V6 petrol engines uses a clutch-to-clutch operation controlled by an integrated 32-bit transmission controller to deliver smooth and precise gear-shifts, according to Chev SA. Features include:

  • A wide overall spread of ratios with a first gear ratio specified to deliver strong launch acceleration.
  • A ‘tall’ overdrive 6th gear ratio that offers decreased engine rpm for enhanced fuel economy and lower noise levels when at cruising speeds.
  • Performance Algorithm Liftfoot (PAL) which allows the electronic controller to override the automatic gear selection during closed throttle, high lateral acceleration manoeuvres.
  • Driver Shift Control (DSC) which allows the driver to manually shift gears via the gearshift lever.
  • Shift calibration specifically tuned for the Trailblazer: Engineers have specifically tuned the torque converter characteristics to match the high torque output of the 2,8 litre diesel and 3,6 litre V6 petrol engines.
  • Dexron VI premium transmission fluid extends durability and provides for a stable shift characteristic over the life of the transmission with a low level of degradation of the fluid. This fluid provides for consistent gear-shift performance in extreme operating conditions.

Electronically actuated part-time transfer case

Where four wheel drive is chosen the torque is split between the front and rear wheels by an electronically actuated 2-speed transfer case. The part time four-wheel drive system offers a choice between:

  • two-wheel drive motoring (2H),
  • high ratio four-wheel drive (4H),
  • or low ratio four-wheel drive (4L)

A neutral position is also provided. The mode required is selected via a rotary dial electronic switch mounted on the centre console immediately behind the gear shift lever. The transfer case can be shifted on-the-fly between 2H and 4H modes at speeds up to 100km/h.

The transfer case housing is die-cast aluminium in two parts. This has a low noise transmission characteristic and is also a very lightweight construction.

Features:

A four-channel anti-lock brake system is standard with Dynamic Rear Brake Proportioning incorporated into the braking system. The vehicle also features:

  • Traction Control System (TCS): Integrated with the all-speed four channel ABS system TCS combines both engine torque inputs and brake control to regulate wheel spin and loss of traction at all driving speeds for maximum driver control regardless of conditions. (not for 2.5 LT model)
  • Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA): This system uses a vacuum booster to increase braking pressure from the master cylinder when the driver applies sudden hard pressure to the brake pedal.
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD): Regulates braking pressure front-to-rear to optimise stopping distance and vehicle control under all load conditions.
  • Panic Brake Assist (PBA): Senses an emergency braking situation by detecting the rate of brake application and boosts braking power as needed to bring the vehicle to a safe stop. This system potentially reduces stopping distance in an emergency by eliminating any delay caused by not braking hard enough, soon enough.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC): Assists the driver in maintaining vehicle control in severe conditions of yaw. A sensor detects movement around the vertical axis of the vehicle (yaw) and compares this to inputs from a sensor on the steering system that measures steering angle being applied. Inputs from these sources are used to modulate individual brakes and engine power to assist the driver in staying in control of the vehicle. (not for 2.5 LT model)
  • Systems included in the ESC system are: Engine Drag Control – prevents the driven wheels from locking due to the braking effect of the engine when there is a sudden lift off the throttle or a rapid downshift. Cornering Brake Control – activated when the vehicle is braked while cornering, brake pressure is independently varied at each corner to ensure stability. Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist (HBFA) – automatically raises braking pressure to compensate for brake fade under repeated heavy applications of the brakes. Hill Descent Control (HDC) – allows a smooth and controlled hill descent in rough terrain without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. Hill Start Assist (HSA) – prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when pulling away on a steep uphill gradient. Engages when a gradient in excess of three percent is detected and acts to hold the vehicle stationery for two seconds after the brake is released to allow time for the throttle to be applied (not for 2.5 LT model) and works in reverse as well.

Safety and security:

Both the LT and LTZ trim levels feature airbag protection for the driver and front passenger as well as curtain side airbag protection for rear seat occupants. Three-point lap and shoulder seat belts are provided for all seven seats. Adjustable head restraints are provided for all seven seating positions as well. Anti-theft protection comes in the form of a transponder key ignition system that prevents unauthorised starting of the vehicle. Only the designated key will enable the ignition system. On both LT and LTZ specification levels an unauthorised entry alarm system is provided.

 

 

The pricing:

2.5 LT 4X2          R364,000    (diesel)

2.8 LTZ 4X2 AT   R423,500    (diesel)

2.8 LTZ 4X4 MT   R454,500    (diesel)

2.8 LTZ 4X4 AT   R469,900    (diesel)

3.6 LTZ 4X4 AT   R479,500    (petrol)

 

Service Plan 5yr/90,000km

Warranty 5yr/120,000km

All pricing is inclusive of VAT and CO2 Tax.

 

Competitors:

Fortuner range: R338 600 to R483 300 (choice of 7 derivatives)

Pajero Sport range: R435 900 to R445 900 (2 derivatives)

Ford Everest range: R374 420 to R438 219 (3 derivatives; due for model upgrade early next year)

 

Buyers can view more detailed features and specifications, brochures and dealership info on Chevrolet South Africa’s dedicated Trailblazer site here.

  • Evansmabaso

    I can’t wait to test drive this vehicle and eventually own it.

    • Donovan Govender

      Hi Evansmabaso. Have u test driven the vehicle and purchased one as yet?

  • Kobus

    Amazing power and towing capacity when compared to Fortuner!

  • Rassietjirimuje2

    why didn’t they just launch it as an Isuzu Frontier, Remember the Frontier, anyone?…. was a great car. Saw this car at NMMU a few months back its awesome sounds good too, and bigger than a fortuner, just hope it handles better!  

  • Etery

    Tested one yesterday and as a former Fortuner owner, I must say this is a Hugh difference…. Much better on the tarr road and on gravel. The car feels much better in fast corners and there is no Back bouncing , like in the Fortuner. Must say, Toyota has to work quite hard to get close to the Trailblazer, now. This is modern technology, as it should be in the 21fst century.

  • Johan Mdc

    I want to buy new vehicle at this point,and am a Big and I mean Big Toyota Fan/Owner have a Prado ,Rav 4 ,land cruiser pickup and a hilux club cab. …want to get a fortuner but saw the Chevie trailblazer….got me hooked.anybody tht has driven and or can give me a honest comparison?i see the Chev’s torque and Kw is much higher then the D4d fortuner diesel.
    Don’t know now

  • Pirate 1970

    Test drove the 2.8 LTZ! What a beaut to drive. That 6-Speed Auto is slick and smooth. It pulls with a sense of purpose. I own an Isuzu 3.0 D/C which is making space for this, God willing, In January. Can’t wait. Will have the 4×4 though. Beautiful accompaniment to the C-Class in the garage. Nearly sold the latter…glad I did not. Love it. SAd to see the Suzie go, but time to move on and the family requires something else, something more practical and spacious. Although I love the FORTUNER and PRADO, this is the best buy that offers a lot and do so without breaking the bank completely and does so with much presence and ease. Reliability? I suspect it would be great, Chev’s have proven to be that by now, I believe. This combination is strong. To take on TOYOTA Chev would have done its homework well to have a relaible vehicle to pitch against its rival. And with Isuzu in its backyard, the necessary capacity is there.