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Upgraded Trailblazer a trendsetter

Chevrolet's 2014 PPV comes with the most powerful engine in its class and a host of fabulous features

Chevrolet has upgraded its Trailblazer with not only a more powerful engine but also a long list of trendy features you would usually find in an upmarket passenger car.

The Trailblazer, based on the Colorado platform, was first introduced last year and grabbed the attention of buyers who needed to drive long distances and occasionally off-road.

The original Trailblazer had a 180-horsepower turbo diesel engine with 470Nm of torque. But the 2014 model's 2.8-litre engine has been upgraded for increased power as well as fuel economy. Improvements include a new ECU, a redesigned cylinder head and block, a water-cooled variable-geometry turbocharger, an upgraded balancer shaft for better refinement, a high-pressure common-rail system with up to 2,000 bar of pressure, and a lighter intake manifold.

All this results in 11 per cent more power, 6 per cent more torque and a 4.3 per cent improvement in fuel economy.

The upgraded engine, capable of pumping out 200hp and a whopping 500Nm of torque, passes the Euro 4 emission level and, according to Chevrolet, can easily be upgraded to pass the Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards. The 2014 Trailblazer also possesses the most powerful engine in the Thai PPV (Pickup Passenger Vehicle) market that includes the popular Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu Mu-X, which features similar design, although its 177hp engine with 380Nm of torque is no match for the Trailblazer's powerplant.

Official figures from Chevrolet show the Trailblazer 2.8 is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in an impressive 10.6 seconds. Meanwhile, its top speed is claimed to be 180km/h, and its average fuel economy of 10.6 km/litre is reasonable, considering the vehicle's 2,153kg total weight for the fully loaded 4-wheel-drive LTZ1 range-topper. These are figures that Japanese manufacturers are always reluctant to provide for the media, citing various lame reasons, so credit goes to Chevrolet for being straightforward and providing figures that consumers want to know before making a purchase.

The upgraded Trailblazer's transmission is a 6-speed automatic carried over from last year's model, which is still the only 6-speed automatic available in the PPV market. While other manufacturers offer front disc and rear drum brakes, the Trailblazer again is the only one with disc brakes on all four wheels, vented both front and rear.

There are also assistance systems that are usually found in upmarket passenger cars including traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, brake assist and even cornering brake control. The suspension is a double wishbone front and an upmarket multi-link rear with coil springs. The ride is smooth, but unfortunately not up to luxury SUV levels, but you have to bear in mind that this is a PPV.

The test-drive event of the Trailblazer was held in Myanmar, and covered all road conditions from Yangon to Bagan and Mandalay, which really put the vehicle's suspension to the test.

The Trailblazer LTZ1 also comes with an impressive equipment list, which includes the latest MyLink infotainment system with nine speakers and a DVD player sporting a 6.5-in touch screen and built-in navigation system. Apart from movies, the player is also capable of displaying pictures, videos and music from smartphones. And the screen doubles up as a display for the reverse camera. Once the smartphone is connected, various phone options are displayed on the touch screen, making it more convenient to access different functions and make hands-free phone calls. There's also an "eco index page" offering drivers feedback on how efficiently the truck is driven, with a leaf showing up on the display when driven economically, while a statistics page shows the vehicle's average fuel consumption for the last 50km.

There's not much change to the interior, with the highlights being the three-row tumble and fold-flat theatre-style seating, offering second- and third-row occupants better all-round view.

While pricing of the lower versions (one 2.5 and two 2.8 two-wheel-drive variants) have gone up due to the improvements, the LTZ1 enjoys a price decrease of Bt24,000, and retails for Bt1.465 million. Chevrolet says that in the future more variants will be offered with a wider range of prices, although none of them will be four-wheel-drive due to the low demand from customers.

Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ1

Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve commonrail diesel with variable turbocharger and intercooler

Displacement: 2,776cc

Bore and stroke: 94x100mm

Compression ratio: 16.5:1

Max power: 200ps/3,600rpm

Max torque: 500Nm/2,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Ratios: 4.06/2.37/1.55/1.16/0.85/0.67

0-100km/h: 10.6 secs

Top speed: 180km/h

Suspension (f/r): double wishbone, coil springs, gas shock/multi-link, coil springs

Steering: powered rack-and-pinion

Turning circle: n/a

Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 4,878

Width: 1,902

Height: 1,847

Wheelbase: 2,845

Track (f/r): 1,570/1,570

Weight: 2,153kg

Wheels: 18-in alloys

Tyres: 265/60 R18

Fuel tank capacity: 76 litres

Price: Bt1.465 million

Distributor: Chevrolet Sales Thailand

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