The ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ is a little flashy, sure, but it isn’t all show and no go. It’s a real tough guy, too.
Claim to fame: Daniel Boone was an explorer, pioneer and frontiersman who became one of the folk heroes of America. He is best known for his exploration and settlement of the state of Kentucky.
Great quote: “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”
With its Chevrolet badge and Corvette colour combination, the Trailblazer Z71 is a quintessentially American vehicle, if not in manufacturing, then at least in spirit (the vehicle is actually built in Brazil and Thailand). It’s bold. It’s loud. It’s in-your-face. It’s well, American.
It also has a very American name: the Trailblazer. The United States loves trailblazers, from Lewis and Clarke who first crossed the western US, to Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Boone, who first explored what is now the state of Kentucky.
Boone, in particular, is an interesting case. He has become a folk hero almost without equal. He’s inspired hundreds of stories and even managed to crack a mention from the British Lord Byron in Don Juan.
What made him such a hero? He did some impressive stuff, no doubt about it, but he’s had so many fictional stories written about him, it’s hard to untangle fact from fiction. Boone is more of an archetype these days than anything else. He is the Platonic ideal of the American trailblazer.
This larger-than-life nature is something the Trailblazer Z71 shares with Boone. The fiery red version that accompanied us to the Kalahari contrasted rather dramatically with the stark and monochromatic environment. It stood out like a cowboy at a cocktail party, and was quickly dubbed ‘The Kalahari Ferrari’.
Demanding attention in this way is risky if you don’t have the performance to back it up, but as you’ve probably already read, the Trailblazer wasn’t all show and no go. It proved itself to be tremendously capable, and was the first to succeed where most of the other vehicles failed completely.
One particularly nasty dune tripped up most of the vehicles. Despite many, many tries, only three 4x4s made it up. The Trailblazer was first, with the Nissan Navara and Ford Everest following.
It has to be said that it wasn’t just about the car, though. The driver certainly also played a part, having driven in the Namib with us before. He had chucked his mechanical sympathy out the window and floored it. And he’d dropped his tyres way down to 0.5 bar.
Still, though, it was an impressive performance that left little doubt with regards to the overall capability of the Chevrolet.
The Trailblazer has everything you’d expect from a good off-roader. Firstly, it’s got a 2.8-litre oilburner that delivers loads of power and torque (145kW and 500Nm). It’s also got a 4WD system with low range and a rear diff lock, as well as around 220mm of ground clearance. Electronic traction and 4×4 aids include Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and traction control.
The refreshed Chev SUV is a well equipped vehicle overall. It’s stylish, comfortable, capable and, yes, a little bit flashy. But it’s more than that. It’s a trailblazer, a dune destroyer, a Kalahari Ferrari. It’s a little bit of a legend, actually.
Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 Z7A 4×4 AT
Engine: 2.8-litre turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed Auto
4WD Sysytem: Selectable 4WD with low range
Traction Aids: Rear diff lock, traction control
Ground Clearance: 219mm
Price: R623 200