New cars are always an exciting thing. The new Trailblazer had me pretty excited and for good reason. Up until now the only real competitor in the mid-size, family SUV has been the Fortuner and to give credit where it’s due, it’s a cracking good value-for-money vehicle. The Pajero Sport also features here and there but, to be honest, if you are looking at sales figures, the Fortuner is leading by miles.
General Motors has decided to attack this segment with the all new Trailblazer. From the eye, it meets the criteria pretty well too. A large seven-seater, big wheels with adequate ground clearance and 3 decent engines. Pricing seems to be nearly on par with the Fortuner in every aspect throughout the range with a little give or take here and there either way.
Our venue was set at the Regency Hotel in tranquil Oubaai in the Southern Cape and to be honest, it was an awesome venue. The GM PR did an outstanding job of putting everything together.
Upon our arrival, we were shuttled to the Hotel where we had a few minutes to catch our breath before heading down to the pre-dinner venue where the official unveiling would take place. Caroline Thomas welcomed us and the overview speech was presented by Edgar Lourencon. With some pyrotechnics and Trailblazers blazing over the lovely grass lawn, the vehicles themselves were officially unveiled to us.
We then continued on to the evening’s dinner and socialized with the other journalist and publishers, taking advantage of networking opportunities . Dinner was a fabulous and I can recommend the Oubaai Rengency Hotel restaurant as a must try if you are in the area.
Up, nice and early we had breakfast and got to drive our first Trailblazer of the day. Johann van Tonder and I decided to pick the entry-level of the bunch which was the 2.5 Trailblazer. Our initial impressions were pretty good with a great ride quality and a punchy 2.5 turbo diesel engine. Fuel economy in our short stint was noticeably impressive too.
We arrived at our first venue for the day which was Vleesbaai, where we jumped into the 2.8 Diesel 4×4 Automatic and attacked our sandy trail. The Trailblazers did amazingly well and conquered the dunes without any trouble. I even went as far as switching back to 4×2 to see how capable it would be. I can say that I probably did 75 % of my loop in just 4×2 and the Trailblazer is very capable with deflated tires and a bit of momentum. Granted, the sand was a little hard, but riding in the dunes in mostly rear wheel drive was still something to take note of.
Luch time came and we left for De Vette Mossel in Grootbrak, where a couple of Chicken and Seafood potjies were made for us. The food was great and you could really see that the sea food fanatics really took advantage of the potjie!
We then left for Bonniedale Adventure Farm in Attekwas Kloof. The day which started out as sunny, decided to get all gloomy on us and it would be the perfect terrain to test the driving manners on the dry and then muddy as we discovered gravel road. This time we were in the 3.6 petrol 4×4 automatic and I must say that the engine is pretty responsive and eager to rev.
We arrived at the Adventure Farm and started to ascend the trail; our vehicles now switch to full time 4×4 in low range mode made easy work of the trail. In some place the ascending was pretty hair-raising and the electronically activated traction control, combined with the low range made mincemeat out of those cross axle situations. On the extremely steep descends, we activated the descend control and the Trailblazer just strolled down the mountain without a worry in sight. I was seriously impressed with the “Trail Blazing” characteristics of this vehicle.
On our way back to the airport, we had horrible weather; from gale-force winds to cloud breaks, which eventually lead to one of the dams on our route back, flooding and flooding the road. Yet again, the Trailblazer just cruised through it, without a worry in mind.
The new Trailblazer is a seriously competent vehicle in this ever-competitive segment and I will go as far as to say that it’s a brilliant new vehicle and will do very well here. With a class-leading towing figure of 2950 kg and a hugely torquey engine of 470nm for the 2.8, means that you will almost be able to tow anything in and around the house or farm.
We look forward to reviewing it at a later stage, but from what I’ve experienced, I can truly say 2 thumbs up to the Trailblazer and GM South Africa. Well done guys!
2.5 LT 4×2 – R364 000
2.8 LTZ 4×2 a/t – R423 500
2.8 LTZ 4×4 – R454 500
2.8 LTZ 4×4 a/t – R469 900
3.6 V6 4×4 a/t – R479 500