The Trailblazer has been the underdog of this segment since its inception in 2012. The super brand loyal South African market just did not know quite what to make of the new beast. This has changed and if you take notice, you see the Trailblazers popping up here and there. It’s with good reason too. In the last couple of years, it’s seen a few changes and to me was the bump in power, with it now boasting a mighty v8 like 500nm of torque.
The 2.8 LTZ seen here has also had a few changes. The facelift, which is now clearly visible with new blacked out headlights, daylight running lamps, and a revised bumper, puts this model right up there in the bling department next to the Everest. The side and the rear are visually unchanged, but there are a new set of alloys fitted too.
The interior is where the magic wand was really moved about; a much more refined; a car like cabin with soft-touch panels give it a premium feel, but it still has hard plastics in places where I would have expected something a little more luxurious, especially considering the price and the vehicle spec. The biggest change is a multimedia system which features the MyLink system with navigation. When learning the menu and layout for the first time, things can be a little confusing, but its easy to figure out. The navigation has to be the most simple to setup and use that I’ve tested in a long time. It’s a simple set and go operation; exactly what it should be. Things like climate control, Bluetooth telephony and USB are also standard.
The engine is still the Italian based 2.8, boasting a meaty 144kw and 500nm and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The power delivery is smooth with a big fat wave of torque when you jump on the accelerator. It really offers near hot hatch acceleration;, especially from a standing start. It can be a little thirsty with careless driving so numbers around the 12l a 100km are not uncommon but pay attention and you can easily see mid 8’s. It will also tow a near 3-ton load, with very little effort.
Off the beaten track the Trailblazer will blaze new trails, as corny as that sounds. The low transfer case is easily engaged by the turn of a button and 4 high can be engaged on the fly. Traction is controlled electronically and there is no rear diff-lock. For the really steep descents, there is hill descent control.
While the Trailblazer can seat 7 people, the 3rd row is suited more to children or double jointed adults. The great thing about the stowaway setup is that it folds completely into the floor; unlike the Fortuner which turns its last row into curtains obscuring much-needed vision.
The 7 airbag equipped trailblazer also now features lane departure warning, collision detection, rear cross traffic alert and side obstacle warnings and has ISOFIX mounted on the rear seats.
The Trailblazer still remains a very worthy advisory in this segment. The Toyota has it beaten in refinement and overall off-road capability; though everybody has a Fortuner.