2016 Holden Trailblazer LT Review
THE TRAILBLAZER, HOLDEN’S NEW HEAVY DUTY 4X4 WAGON, IS CONSIDERABLY IMPROVED OVER THE ‘NOT-GREATLY-ADMIRED’ COLORADO7 IT REPLACES. It features a potent 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine, six-speed manual or automatic transmission and selectable dual-range 4×4 drivetrain with transfer case.
That engine and drivetrain, shared by the Colorado 4×4 ute, pushes a hefty 500Nm of torque and 147kW of power to the tarmac. It also has the hardware to get a long way off road, and back again.
In operation both on the highway and in the rough stuff, the Trailblazer is noticeably quieter and more-refined than the car it replaces, but has lost none of its pulling power and towing ability.
Built tough, well-protected down below and with good ground clearance, it is a genuine consideration for buyers looking for a comfortable, strong, tow vehicle or off-road wagon.
THERE ARE JUST TWO MODELS IN THE TRAILBLAZER RANGE, THE FABRIC-TRIMMED LT AND THE LEATHER-CLAD LTZ.
Each share the same 4×4 drivetrain combination (described above) mated to a six-speed automatic. The higher-specced LTZ sits on larger 18-inch alloys, the LT on 17-inch wheels.
What you pay for with the LTZ is a much longer feature list, additional safety features and off-road driving aids, and a more smartly trimmed leather interior.
Both models are comfortable and have the latest in connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Phone Projection, Digital Audio Radio (DAB+), USB input with iPod® connectivity, 6-speaker audio and steering wheel mounted controls.
To this list the better-specced Trailblazer LTZ adds Holden’s MyLink infotainment system, a bigger 8-inch screen (LT gets a 7-inch screen), and embedded sat-nav – which is far better than the ‘streamed’ nav available on the LT.
And while each get stability control, hill start assist, hill descent control and trailer sway control – important if you’re thinking of hitching up a horse float or a large van – the LTZ adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and tyre pressure monitoring.
For this review we drove the base model LT Trailblazer (automatic), seven seats, a half-reasonable third row, and a big cargo space of 554 litres should you drop the third row to the floor (and 1043 litres with both rows folded).
(A full list of features follows below.)
Despite the long feature list, both LT and LTZ are priced below key competitors like Toyota’s Fortuner and the Ford Everest, but slightly above the comparable Isuzu MU-X and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
Trailblazer LT (auto): $47,990 or $52,517 driveaway (NSW pricing)
Trailblazer LTZ (auto): $52,490 or $57,242 driveaway (NSW pricing)
COMPETITOR PRICE COMPARISON (base model driveaway pricing shown):
Toyota Fortuner GX: $52,517 (manual); $54,617 (automatic)
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX: $49,377 (auto only)
Isuzu MU-X LSM 4×4: $50,112 (manual); $52,317 (automatic)
Ford Everest Ambiente: $59,867 (auto only)
Toyota Prado GX: $58,882 (manual); $61,022 (automatic)
THE MOST NOTICEABLE CHANGE IN THE NEW TRAILBLAZER IS ITS IMPROVED ON-ROAD FEEL AND THE GIANT STEPS IN REFINEMENT. While there is no disguising the characteristic ‘four-wheel-drive’ ride – small highway undulations can induce some fore and aft jiggling when unladen – it is certainly not uncomfortable, remains well-controlled and retains good steering feel.
The steering and damping improvements – a faster rack, and less turns lock-to-lock – and better rebound control make the Trailblazer less tiring on a long drive (and we gave it a long one).
It is not ‘arrow true’ like a modern sports wagon, nor as unfussed as a typical light-duty SUV (like the Sorento or Kluger), but in the Trailblazer you’re not constantly correcting as in a less-settled 4×4 ute.
And unlike that Kluger or Sorento, you can hitch an outback van to the Trailblazer and point it with absolute confidence at the Canning Stock Route or Strzlecki Track without wondering whether you’re going to pull the guts out of it.
It is also noticeably quiet on-road. Even on coarse Australian bitumen (it gets coarser the further you get away from capital cities) tyre roar is not a factor. And while there is a diesel under the bonnet and a bit of clatter at idle, once moving it disappears and only makes its presence felt if giving things a real shoe-full.
Holden has done a good job here. Partly responsible for that new-found refinement is new engine and transmission mounts, and new body mounts (the bushings between the body and chassis). But the greater contribution comes from the relocation of the twin balance shafts in the engine and a counter-balanced torque converter.
The Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) Torque Converter utilises a set of secondary spring masses as an absorbing damper (vibrating opposite to the torsional vibrations of the engine and drivetrain, and thus having a ‘cancelling’ effect). It works, simple as that.
On the highway, the Trailblazer is certainly among the quieter and more-refined of the popular 4×4 wagons (it is, in fact, quieter than many modern diesel passenger cars).
And off-road, straight out of the box, this rig will get you along any trail you’d sensibly point it at. It has the underbody protection, the clearance and 4×4 smarts (the operation of the ABS and traction control, as well as creeping low gearing) typical of the better performers in this heavy-duty ‘four-wheeler’ segment.
Also like others in the segment, a good set of rims and special-purpose AT or MT tyres, some ironwork and a slight lift will make it near unstoppable.
On some deep mud wallows we found (we didn’t get out for photos in the deepest of these… it wasn’t the ballet pumps we were worried about, keeping forward momentum was more in our mind), the Trailblazer was unfussed.
With a four-wheel drive low-range mode that incorporates a 2.62:1 ratio and a helical limited-slip diff, there is not much that can get in the way of the Trailblazer.
And off-road in 4L, the calibration of the electrically assisted steering changes (it becomes less reactive) to enable a line to be picked along a washout or over rocks and to dull feedback through the wheel.
It works as it should, and the sculpted bonnet also assists by keeping the forward dimensions in sight. Picking along slowly there is ample power and torque underfoot, and the six-speed auto in the LT we drove is settled when left in auto mode, but can be manhandled via the shift to hold a selected gear or for manual changes.
Add in that 3.0 tonne tow rating and trailer sway control, and right here Holden has a well-priced versatile towing wagon that won’t have any trouble getting that boat to the Gulf, dragging a van through the guts of this country or getting the horses and the family to the pony club.
Holden’s new Trailblazer is the genuine article. It offers, on the face of it, all of the off-road capability of Toyota’s Prado and Fortuner – and you can add Ford’s Everest here – and is a match or near-match for on-road manners and refinement.
The improvements to the drivetrain and suspension control, and the greatly improved interior, put the Trailblazer into ‘the big league’. It is considerably better, and thus a better buy, than the Colorado7 that it replaces.
In fact, at the Trailblazer’s price – see our comparison above – Holden’s new seven-seat 4×4 deserves to pull sales away from the more expensive contenders in this segment, namely the Toyota Prado and Ford Everest.
If it can do the job, why would you spend more? Holden’s Trailblazer is a convincing rig.
Got a Trailblazer, or a Colorado7? Tell us what you think of it.
Engine: 2.8 litre DOHC turbo-diesel with common rail high-pressure fuel injection
Power/Torque: 147kW @ 3600rpm /500Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 6-spd manual or 6-spd automatic (with sequential manual shift)
Suspension: Front: independent double wishbone; rear: five-link solid axle with coil springs
Steering: Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion; turning circle: 12m
Brakes: 318mm front discs; 300mm rear
Fuel consumption claimed: 8.6 l/100km; tested: 9.7 l/100km (highway and off-road driving)
Wheels and tyres: LT: 17 inch aluminium/255/65R17 LTZ: 18 inch aluminium/265/60R18
Approach/departure/ramp-over angles: LT: approach 27.6 degrees; departure 25.2 degrees/ ramp-over 22.1 degrees (add around 0.5 degrees for LTZ)
Ground clearance/wading depth: 213mm/600mm
Tow rating: 3.0 tonne towing (braked) and carrying capacity of 620kg; GCM (gross combined mass) is 5.7 tonne; maximum rear axle load 1600kg.
MC category – “off-road passenger vehicle”
7” colour touchscreen
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Phone Projection
Navigation (via CarPlay and Android Auto)
Digital Audio Radio (DAB+)
USB input with iPod® connectivity
Steering wheel mounted controls
6 speaker audio
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Air Conditioning (including 4 x Cooling Rear Vents)
Rear ventilation duct (console lower) – heat and cool
Rear park assist with Reverse Camera
LED Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs)
Front fog lamps
Auto On and Off Halogen Reflector Headlamps
Helical Limited Slip Differential (LSD)
7 Airbags (Driver, Pass., Fr. Seats, Curtain, Driver Knee)
Five-link live axle rear suspension
Front and rear disc brakes
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System
Hill Start Assist (HSA) & Trailer Sway Control (TSC)
Hill Descent Control (HDC)
Front passenger sunglass holder & dual reading lamps
Power adjustable exterior mirrors
Power windows (driver & all passenger express up/down)
Remote window operation (via keyfob)
2 x 12V power outlets in front centre dash
2 x 12V power outlets in rear (rear console lower and boot)
TRAILBLAZER LTZ adds:
18” alloy wheels with full size spare (machined face)
New MyLink infotainment system:
8” colour touchscreen
Embedded Satellite Navigation
7-Speaker premium audio
Remote vehicle start via keyfob
Leather appointed seat trim with heated front seats
Front park assist
Electronic Climate Control
Forward Collision Alert (FCA)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Side Blind Zone Alert (SBZA)
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
LED tail lights
Heated and power folding exterior mirrors
Electrochromatic (light sensitive) rear view mirror
Rain sensing windscreen wipers
Luxury console armrest with Dark Ash grey stitching
6-way adjustable electric driver’s seat
Body coloured exterior door handles with chrome strip
Chrome surround grille with inner chrome fins
Chrome exterior mirror scalps
Chrome gear selector
Chrome body side beltline moulding