Trailblazer the way to get to ski fields

HOLDEN TRAILBLAZER: Genuine seven-seater.

I find it interesting that Holden on both sides of the Tasman has changed the name of its popular seven-seat Colorado7 to Trailblazer.

It’s almost as if the company has tried to distance the big sport utility vehicle from the car it is based on – the Colorado ute – and I find that a bit of a surprise. The Colorado is one of the top-selling utes in New Zealand, and the Colorado7 was an extension of that series, it is a vehicle which will do all the things the ute would bar having deck space.

Nevertheless, it is now named Trailblazer and it arrives here in two variations, LT (special order only) and LTZ as in the test car’s case. However, mention must be made of a limited edition Z71 model which is dressed up with big black wheels and special decals.

In LTZ form the Trailblazer comes well specced for comfort and convenience, and at $62,990 it is priced favourably against its nearest opposition – say Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport, Toyota’s Fortuner and Ford’s Everest.

For its money, the Trailblazer gets full leather trim with heated front seats (also electrically adjustable), MyLink voice recognition infotainment system, digitally controlled air conditioning and cruise control. For safety there’s the mandatory gear to earn it a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program safety rating.

The Trailblazer is powered by General Motors’ 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, the same as that which sits in the Colorado ute range. It is rated at 147kW with a grunty 500Nm of torque, the latter realised at just 2000rpm,meaning there is a lot of specific power which, in turn, relates to respectable performance.

Part of the latter is due to the engine’s pairing with a six-speed automatic gearbox which has close ratios so that the gaps between gears aren’t excessive. The combination works fluidly together, and the ratios are also structured so that acceleration is useful along with relaxed highway operation and associated fuel usage benefits.

The twin-camshaft, 16-valve engine has a 9.2-litre per 100km (31mpg) combined cycle claim. That’s achievable, even considering the Trailblazer weighs in well over two-tonne, the trip computer was still listing at around 10l/100km (28mpg) during my testing time. At 100km/h the engine turns over at a leisurely 1600rpm, using fuel at the rate of just 7.3l/100km (39mpg).

These are respectable figures, and if you take into account it will accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in around 10sec, it has the benefit of power and economy.

I took the test car on my usual inland route. Given the Trailblazer has a serious four-wheel-drive system and suspension engineered for life in the rough stuff, I included a short undulating track near the Coalgate.

The evaluation car was a local dealer demonstrator so I didn’t want to get it overly dirty, and the dry, well-packed clay surface didn’t provide a grip challenge; however, I can report the Trailblazer can be considered a genuine cross-country vehicle because of its low ratio transfer case, organised by a dial switch near the auto shifter.

The suspension is up to task. It has a combination of long travel up front with the firming and control through the springs and dampers to absorb the big hits from off-road surfaces.

This taking into account the rear suspension of the Trailblazer utilises much the same load-bearing, live axle set-up that is used in the ute, although the SUV gets coils as opposed to leaf springs.

On the seal the Trailblazer cruises smoothly, providing the driver with solid information as to how it is travelling in relation to the road surface.

At almost 1.8m, the Trailblazer is tall, which means there is some body movement over the suspension, but it deals with the gravitational change with lurching, or disturbing in-cabin comfort.

The Trailblazer’s seven-seat platform is fairly traditional, the rear row of seats fold up out of the floor and provide satisfactory comfort. The cabin proper is well up to catering for five adults, and if the rear seats are folded flat the load space is cavernous.

Even though its name has changed, not a lot has changed within the Trailblazer, it is an SUV with a difference to the majority of seven-seaters which ply our market. Given the popularity of the ute market sales of the Trailblazer – and others – benefit from that success.

It’s a serious vehicle for the high country fishing trip or summer camping holiday. At this time of year it is the perfect vehicle for the ski field access road, and with the pricing structure it is a vehicle which deserves consideration if you need a four-wheel-drive with high off-the-beaten-track capability.

Price – Holden Trailblazer LTZ, $62,990

Dimensions – Length, 5347mm; width, 1882mm; height, 1780mm

Configuration –  Four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, 2776cc, 147kW, 500Nm, six-speed automatic.

Performance –
0-100km/h, 10sec

Fuel usage – 9.2l/100km