If you go back five years the only 4WD wagon on the market that was based on a Ute was the Mitsubishi Challenger. Since then the market has changed dramatically with Isuzu and Holden starting the new trend, then Toyota and Ford followed and Mitsubishi replaced the Challenger. Now there is a good choice of robust, quality, reasonably priced 4WD wagons for buyers to choose from.
The Trailblazer was launched in October 2016 so it is now some 10 months on the market and follows on from the relaunched Colorado earlier in the year. While it still resembles the Colorado7 the Trailblazer is dramatically improved in a number of key areas.
Externally the Trailblazer is fairly stylish with exterior styling enhancements including LED tail lights, signature LED daytime running lamps combined with chrome accents, complementing a stylish front fascia and more muscular bonnet design. A clever and practical touch that simply combines form and function. It has an upright, bold design and clean lines that look good from any angle, especially with the 18 inch alloy wheels. There is also a full sized spare. The Trailblazer along with the Isuzu MU-X is the most stylish of the new breed of 4WD wagon.
Internally the Trailblazer LTZ follows on from the Colorado with upgraded design. The front leather premium heated seats are comfortable and stylish, if a little flat in the squab. The driver’s seat has multiple electronic adjustments but no lumbar support. The seat back is fairly supportive though. Along with the height adjustable steering wheel, drivers are able reach a reasonably comfortable driving position. I did find myself reaching for the steering wheel a little though. It lacks reach adjustment.
The thick rimmed steering wheel feels good in the hand, has all the usual controls and provides good feedback for driving. The two stalks are visible above the teeing wheel spokes, but the indicator is a little far away from the rim of the wheel, necessitating you reaching for the indicator. In front of the driver is a redesigned dash with two large dials, centre MFD and dials above that. It is actually clear and easy to read providing most of the information the driver needs.
The redesigned dash and door trims has soft touch feel, and has a premium feel to it with subtle styling. One thing though is a rough edge below the ridge above the centre stack that is a little sharp.
The middle row of seats are comfortable for three people, have adequate head, shoulder and knee room. Again the seat squab is a little flat and hard but supportive. The third row of seats are bigger and better than most competitors in the segment but still only good for shorter passengers for short trips. They have headroom and shoulder room but restricted room for the passengers’ feet and knees.
The rear two rows of seats fold flat to reveal a large 1830 L boot area. It is long enough for me at 190cm to lie down in it. When all three rows of seats are used there isn’t much room behind for luggage though. This is the same for all the Ute based wagons. The middle row seats tumble forward to allow access to the third row. The rear privacy blind for the boot can store behind the rear seats when not in use.
Comfort features include, electronic climate control for passenger comfort and rear A/C vents. The remote window operation when the doors open and close is a great design feature allowing easier door closing but is prone to haphazard working which is annoying. Other comfort features include large heated and power folding exterior mirrors, electrochromic (light sensitive) rear view mirrors and rain sensing windscreen wipers.
The storage is a mixed bag. The glove box is decent size, however the centre console is on the small size and has the USB port there which restricts use when that feature is utilized. There are two cup holders in the centre console and the doors have a spot for those 600ml bottles but not much else. The rear passengers in both rows have access to cup and bottle holders.
Driving the Trailblazer LTZ reveals improvements to the ride and handling, improved quietness inside and better matching of the transmission to the engine to maximise use of all available torque. When trying to describe the driving experience on road the words – more refined – come to mind. It still isn’t as good as the MU-X but much better than the Colorado7. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. There are a myriad of little things that have been improved that all add up to the smoother quieter ride and improved handling.
The Trailblazer is powered by the 2.8L Duramax diesel engine which produces 147 k W of power @ 3600 rpm and a healthy 500Nm of torque at an impressive 2000 rpm. Previously the Colorado7 had similar figures but was mismatched with the transmission. Now it feels that you can access every one of those 500Nm of torque and the vehicle is better for it.
This power and torque is transferred to through a dual range 4WD system and a 6 speed sports automatic transmission and a LSD. This combination works equally as well on and off road. There is no rear diff lock like some competitors such as the Pajero Sport. In fact the Trailblazer has excellent off road ability. Additionally the Trailblazer provides improved feedback to the driver through its electric power steering with revised steering calibration, co-developed between Holden and Brazilian engineers providing a more precise steering feel thanks to a faster steering rack ratio and less turns lock-to-lock. It actually feels quite nimble on road.
On test we drove the Trailblazer over fire trails, some heavier 4WD tracks, on sand and on the farm. It performed without missing a beat. In standard format there was reasonable articulation for the off road sections and reasonably good damping of rough road surfaces on road. Off road credentials are wading depth of 600mm, ground clearance of 218mm and approach angle of 28 degrees, departure of 25 degrees and ramp over of 22 degrees. It also has the shift on the move to 4WD H and the usual shift to neutral then 4WD L system
We also towed some trailers and the Trailblazer easily handles its 3000 kg tow limit with a 300 kg tow ball rating. It now equals the MU-X for ease of towing. Holden has a great payload calculator on its website. You really should check it out. They have been excellent in educating the drivers about the variances in what can be towed and carried etc.
Holden engineers introduced something quite clever called the Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter. This basically in simple English counteracts and smooths torsional vibrations in the driveline normally felt in the cabin. Combine this with: Balance shaft relocation, Engine acoustic pack including – Injector Insulator – Metal timing cover – Oil pan insulator and the Wind noise package, all new engine mounts, all new chassis tune and you feel the quietness inside while idling and driving.
There is however enough diesel knock to be pleasant to the ears. There is nothing worse than being isolated from the road and outside when driving.
Holden has significantly upgraded the safety features of the Trailblazer LTZ with a five star ANCAP safety rating. Trailblazer LTZ offers an array of active and passive safety features including 7 Airbags (Driver, Pass., Fr. Seats, Curtain, and Driver’s Knee), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System, Hill Start Assist (HSA), Trailer Sway Control (TSC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC). Side Blind Zone Alert (SBZA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). The technology offering is further bolstered with rear park assist and reversing cameras standard as well as Front Park Assist (FPA), Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Forward Collision Alert (FCA) Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
Impressively the Trailblazer comes with Lifetime Capped Price Service program and Australian based Customer Care. Additionally Holden has an almost complete range of accessories that compete with aftermarket products yet retain the full manufacturer’s warranty that includes: Bull bars, Safari Bar, Bash Plates, Extended Rail Sports Bars, Steel Rear Step, Tubular steel Side Steps, LED driving lights, Fender Flares, Nudge Bar, Snorkel, 18in Wheels and all terrain tyres.
Holden’s Trailblazer LTZ won the recent OzRoamer 4WD Category award for 2016. However the competition is only marginally behind and the segment just keeps getting better.
- LTZ safety package
- Powerful engine
- Towing and 4WD capability
What’s Not So Good:
- No lumbar support for driver
- No rear diff lock
- No reach for steering wheel adjustment
Model: Holden Trailblazer LTZ
Model Price: $57,587 RDAP
Engine: 2.8L 4 Cyl TDi
Drivetrain: 4WD 6 Sp AT
Power: 147 kW @ 3,600 rpm
Torque: 500 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions: 228 g/km
Economy: 8.6 L/100km (ADR comb)
Tow Capacity: Max32000 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 300 kg
Servicing: Lifetime Capped Price service
Warranty: 3yr/ 100,000 km with 1yr roadside assist
Overall AnyAuto Rating 90/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 10
Towing Ability 9
Off Road Ability 10
Value for Money 9