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Counting cylinders under the Chevrolet Trailblazer crossover's hood
April 14, 2022

Counting cylinders under the Chevrolet Trailblazer crossover's hood

The new Chevrolet Trailblazer compact crossover is no way connected with the same-named body-on-frame SUV which was produced until 2010, nor with its successor which is sold in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. This baby with Chinese roots traces its history back to the Buick Encore presented in Shanghai in 2019. A new chapter, a new concept. A new consumer, ready to come to terms with a conservative three-cylinder engine equipped with an ordinary turbocharger.

The Trailblazer managed to make an appearance in the US market. There were two turbocharged three-cylinder engines, one “better” than the other. But the 1.2 version with a capacity of 139 hp wasn’t a success. Today, only the 150 hp 1.3 modification developing 236 N-m rolls off the assembly line in South Korea. The front-wheel-drive version is equipped with a torque converter and a rear torsion beam. The Hydra-Matic 9T45 automatic gearbox is involved In the transmission with a part-time second axle, and the semi-independent suspension is supplemented with Watt’s linkage, like in the last Astra of the GM era.

The GM office has prepared all-wheel-drive top versions for us – Active and RS. One is for an active country holiday, the second is positioned as a sports option. But they differ only in internal/external decor and wheel size. The Trailblazer looked good on brand’s photos made near the Grand Canyon, but it looks even better live. Of course, one can’t get away from comparisons with the Creta, but we also agree with those who see the Camaro in the optional LED optics.

The interior is nicer in photos than in real life. The assembly flaws aren’t noticeable in the illustrations: you can’t see how loose the chrome climate control rings are, you can’t hear the creaking of the rear seat heating buttons… There is too much hard plastic in contact points. But the ergonomics are quite good. You quickly get used to the button order. The dashboard with a small screen between the classic scales is easy to perceive. The graphics on the eight-inch display of the media hub are simple, but the touchscreen responds promptly to touch. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported for good relationships with smartphones.

The car height is quite enough by the class standards – you can get into the car even with a hat. And you can sit in the back row in cowboy boots! That is, feet easily fit under the front seat. However, the comfort of the rear seat occupants’ knees depends on the height of the driver. The driver with a height of 6′ 2″ will noticeably bear against the back of the adjusted seat. But fortunately, there is an armrest and heater. The trunk pleases with its perfect geometry and smooth two-level raised floor. But for some reason, the curtain is attributed to dealer accessories.

There are other oddities of equipment. You won’t find a heated windshield or heated wipers rest area even in the top configuration with all the additional packages.. A kilowatt heater is the only hope. A power-adjustable seat, including a lumbar support, and a power window automatic mode are provided only to the driver. The second row has no central air vents. The temperature at the rear is not adjusted.

Shift the transmission lever to “Drive”, put the right pedal to the floor, and let’s go! Not so fast: the selector passes along the straight groove into the speed down mode. Let’s make some corrections. And look at it! The turbo engine responds quickly to the accelerator. But, with the declared maximum torque range from 1600 to 4000 rpm, it noticeably catches up only around 3000.

In fairness, the speed indicator needle quickly gets there. And, in the urban flow,  the Trailblazer doesn’t give a reason to remember about the engine’s volume and the number of cylinders. The gearbox, operating in a single mode, is sensibly adjusted. Yes, it’s characterized by a slight abstraction when the situation requires quickly shifting a few gears down. But these pauses didn’t cause us any concern.

But the fervor disappears when entering a highway. And after 55-60 miles/h, the engine switches to on-off mode. No measurement of traction is involved. During a long trip on a highway, the gas pedal is pressed into the firewall, and the speed indicator needle is constantly stuck in the range of 4500-6000 revolutions.

We must pay tribute to the sound insulation: the buzzing of the “turbo-three” doesn’t annoy even under load. At low speeds, it is absolutely quiet, and vibrations aren’t felt. Wheel arches are the main source of low noise. On the second seat row, the rumble from the trunk and the exhaust snuffling at full throttle are added. In general, extraneous sounds don’t prevent you from communicating in the cabin without raising your voice.

The crossover swallows little things like cracks, but more serious obstacles lead to noticeable vibrations of unsprung masses on the steering wheel. The itching increases along with the deterioration of the road quality and moves to the car body. When hitting an illogical large bump, the crossover shakes up the occupants of the cabin and trunk. However, even getting into a serious pit at high speed doesn’t bring shock absorbers equipped with hydraulic rebound bumpers to a shock failure.

The Chevy is stable on a long wave and isn’t afraid of turns. It allows for small rolls, without annoying with repeated oscillations of the body after a sharp evasion from an obstacle. Alas, the Trailblazer is reluctant to share information about tire reserves with the driver, and in the near-zero steering position, the driver doesn’t feel a clear connection between the steering wheel and the wheels.. The larger the angle, the greater the steering effort. But its change needs to be made more logical in order to improve the understanding of the driver with the car.

The Continental UltraContact UC6 225/55 R18 tires make the Trailblazer RS a little denser and fitter. The Activ option, shod in Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 2 SUV 226/60 R17, is predictably less shaky. In general, both versions are well opposed to what is called an asphalt road on our route. The paradox is that, due to the wheel size, the seemingly adventure-oriented Activ version has a centimeter less clearance in comparison with that of the pseudo-sport RS – 183 mm versus 194.

Watt’s linkage with two extension rods provides good road-holding ability on chipped asphalt. But the crossover surprises with arrogance on a gravel or earth road. That is, the directive wheels are the first to lose the grip, but the Trailblazer abruptly turns from the slippage phase into skidding with the rear axle. Moreover, the safety electronics are in no hurry to intervene. If you have skills, it will be easy for you to keep the Chevy in check. However, such trust is surprising in the modern world where the driver isn’t even allowed to sneeze without the knowledge of the on-board computer.

A rear axle drive is activated by a button located behind the automatic gearbox selector. The difference between the modes is barely noticeable on the asphalt. Unless there is no slippage with a sharp start when the thrust is distributed to all four wheels. All-wheel drive is relevant on an earth or gravel road: the speed of turning is higher, the habits on the arc are more stable. In theory, the clutch can be blocked completely, but the driver doesn’t have the tools to control it – electronics are responsible for the distribution of thrust between the axles. According to the manufacturer, the AWD mode operates over the entire speed range.

The 50-liter gas tank is modest for the adventurer, which the Trailblazer was presented to the public. And you need to pump the super gas into it. However, due to the relatively small weight of up to 1.5 tons and a transmission with a shaft drive disconnection clutch, it is easy to keep a combined consumption within 6.5 liters/60 miles at a calm pace.

We have mixed emotions about the Chevy. On the one hand, everything is fine with it, there are no significant complaints. A standard crossover to match the present time and large megacity. But we also didn’t find any prominent positive features that would allow us to distinguish the Trailblazer among competitors.

In the current scarce times, it could shoot the moon through the price. But even the recommended price is quite high, and you can get packages and options for top models that will cost a pretty penny. GM understands that the car imported from South Korea will be a niche one, no one demonstrates ambitions to conquer the universe. But it will not be easy to sell the number of crossovers planned for 2022.

This is a translation. You can read the original here: https://www.drive.ru/test-drive/chevrolet/61486807094d7944c87c4afb.html

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