Chevrolet India has now fielded its big, massive and butch Trailblazer to take on the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and Mitsubishi Pajero. With footprints spanning close to 5 metres, Trailblazer dwarfs its rivals by healthy margin. It’s good 1902 mm wide, stands tall at 1847 mm, and has thumping ground clearance of 231 mm. Chevrolet hasn't launched any new product in India since 2013 when it brought Enjoy here. But like other products, Enjoy has the trademark peculiarity of SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation). The quality was not up to the mark, and like Sail hatchback and Sedan, Enjoy fails to find indulgence of Indian masses. But now, with SAIC having sold its stake in GM, Chevrolet is free to chart its own course.
We have already had enough soundbites from GM camp about enhanced investment in India which will ultimately help the company to launch new product offensive. Trailblazer is the first off the series of new products Chevrolet will launch in India. Of course, it won't be drawing huge numbers to company bucket but then no one can deny its halo effect. We took it for a day long drive to find how much Chevrolet can really rely on this massive workhorse for its image and more importantly fortune makeover.
Design & Style
If you like big size, Trailblazer will please you to the core. It’s massive, sheer in size and dwarfs every other SUV in its class. Even Toyota Fortuner gets humbled as Trailblazer emerges as longer and marginally wider. Ground clearance of 241 mm is segment best, and coupled with jacked up stance, gives Trailblazer a unique butch turn out.
What we like most about the Trailblazer is its sophistication as Chevy doesn't disappoint on coherence. Upfront split grille gives it an imposing stance only to be accentuated by raised bonnet. Headlights are a bit on softer side and so is the subtle use of chrome. In profile, one will miss the cladding that has become standard for the SUVs but it doesn't look bad at all.
The jacked up stance leaves sizeable gap between the wheels and arches; further accentuating its butch feel. At rear, there is lot of similarity one can find between Fortuner and Trailblazer. Tail gate is nicely contoured, and jewel effect lights spruce up the proceedings in a favorable way.
Cabin & Interiors
You have to haul yourself up in order to enter the Trailblazer. Climb in exercise do require some efforts though sturdy footboard and grab handles makes the job a bit easy. Large and comfortable seats upfront are treat to use and really cushion the driver in an extremely comfortable way. Steering wheel is well placed and mounted controls helps to take stock of the various parameters without any hiccups. Hooded dials are not very readable though lit by blue backlight, these are amazing in aesthetics. Central stack is quite interesting in its layout though the quality standards are not good enough to match Rs 30 lakh plus price tag. Feature list, however, is large and barring navigation and sunroof, Trailblazer has almost everything expected from a large SUV.
There are plenty of storage spaces across the cabin. Bottle holders, cup holders, recesses and bays make Trailblazer cabin quite practical. Space is the stronghold of the SUV, and middle bench is the best we have experienced in the segment. There is ample space in all the directions, and though seat doesn't recline, we have no reason to complain about the space.
Entrythird row is awkward and so is the seating position. Headroom and legroom is small, and best only for the intra-city commutes. Boot space is not something to gush about. With all three rows in place, you can accommodate not more than a few soft bags.
Engine & Transmission
Powering such huge workhorse mandates an equally capable firepower. Chevrolet has plonked 4-cylinder, 2.8-litre Duramax diesel engine under the hood of Trailblazer that puts out 199 PS of max power and class leading torque of 500Nm;way above the rest of the rivals. 16-valve, 4-cylinder, configuration is on par with the standard though overall engine refinement is above the competition. Mated to automatic transmission, Trailblazer comes across as a very competent engine-tranny combo.
In auto mode, upshifts come early while engine tends to remain under 2000 rpm. However, press the pedal hard and Trailblazer shift down quickly. The ample low and medium range torque gives the SUV ample grunt in the city and out on highway. Power tails off in the auto mode quite quickly though in manual control via gear lever, there is scope for rpm to approach higher revs. That said the top-end of the engine is noisy and obtrusive which somewhere impedes the urge to approach the red-line. Still ample grunt in the low and mid-range makes up for the noisy top-end of the SUV.
Ride & Handling
Despite its sheer size and bulk, we are pleasantly surprised by the dynamics of the Trailblazer. Sure, it's not a Swift to drive and handle as you can feel enough of body roll transferring weight from one side to another but then things never get out of the control. Stability on the highway stretches is commendable; in fact class leading to say at least. Hydraulic power steering is cut above the rest as it points the SUV exactly in the direction you want.
Brakes are via disc all around and though there are little to complain about stopping prowess, their communication could certainly be better. Frontal visibility is good though in city, Trailblazer is sure to realize you its size and weight.
Chevrolet has brought in only single 2WD AT variant of Trailblazer at price of Rs 26.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Compared to Fortuner and Endeavour which are priced at Rs 25.17 lakh and Rs 25.35 lakh, this Chevy is a bit expensive. Still given the fact that Trailblazer is imported as CBU, we find this price quite aggressive. Overall, Trailblazer is a complete package with imposing presence and powerful performance. It speeds past competition without any hindrances though rivals too are not going to give up easily. Both Ford and Toyota will launch new versions of their respective SUVs shortly, and then the real test of the Trailblazer will start. Till then, it can rest on its laurels for a while.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3/5
Value for Money 3/5