2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Review
Improved safety features for a superb family vehicle.
TrailBlazer's styling helped blaze the trail for the latest Chevy Truck design. It's an aggressive look with bold headlamps and a split grille. The horizontal bar that splits the grille, headlamps and turn signals is chromed on the LS, body-colored on the LT. The front bumper features a large opening with two vertical slats, and the optional foglights are mounted down low. The front end of the TrailBlazer makes it look like a scaled-down Suburban or Silverado.
Overall, TrailBlazer looks sturdy and neat, with confident lines that express utility. The pillars and window lines are graceful, while the big fender flares are visually bold. At the rear is a convenient step in the center of the bumper. But the stacked round taillights look lumpy and googly-eyed.
The track (the distance between the left and right tires) is the widest in the class, 2.2 inches wider than the Ford Explorer in front and nearly an inch wider in the rear. This gives the TrailBlazer more hip and shoulder room.
The easiest way to tell the TrailBlazer from the TrailBlazer EXT is to look at the rear passenger doors; they're full-size doors on the EXT but the rear wheel wells cut into them on the standard-length model. The seven-seat TrailBlazer EXT is 16 inches longer in wheelbase than the standard five-seat TrailBlazer and looks disproportianately long and narrow.
The TrailBlazer's seats have been revised for improved comfort for 2005. The new seats come in cloth fabric or optional leather. Seat adjustments are manual in the LS. Eight-way power operation with memory and seat heaters is available on fully optioned LT models. Power adjustable pedals on the LT ($150) allow shorter drivers to move the brake and accelerator pedals up to three inches closer for better positioning and comfort without having to move to close to the airbag-equipped steering wheel. It's a good safety feature and popular among women.
The standard TrailBlazer seats five passengers, while the TrailBlazer EXT seats seven. Second-row space is nearly identical between TrailBlazer and TrailBlazer EXT. Both offer more room in the second row than the Ford Explorer, particularly hip room.
Cargo space in the EXT is generous. Fold the second- and third-row seats and TrailBlazer EXT offers 107 cubic feet of packing room, more than the standard TrailBlazer (80), Ford Explorer (81), and comparable to the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe (105). The cargo floor isn't as flat as we'd like, though, and a gap between the two third-row seats makes it less dog-friendly.
The Explorer, however, provides a bit more third-row people room than the TrailBlazer EXT. Head, hip, and leg room in the Explorer's third row measure 38.9, 45.4, and 34.9 inches, respectively. The corresponding numbers for the TrailBlazer EXT are 38.1, 49.2, and 31.2. TrailBlazer EXT is 2.6 inches wider than Explorer, which accounts for the additional hip room. But clearly, the Explorer's independent rear suspension, and resulting low floor, allowed Ford to pack more leg room and head room into a significantly shorter wheelbase.
All TrailBlazers feature complete and clean instrumentation. A big tachometer is on the left, speedometer in center, and on the right are smaller gauges for water, battery, gas and oil. Optional on the four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel are eight buttons for climate, sound, cruise control and a driver information center. Heating and air conditioning can be controlled separately by the driver and front-seat passenger. EXT models add separate climate controls for rear-seat passengers as well. Interior lights abound, including reading lights.
The center console includes an open storage bin, an enclosed compartment and two cup holders forward of the gear lever plus two cup holders for the rear passengers. There are pockets in the front doors and behind the front seats, though none in the rear doors. Behind the rear seat is a small hidden compartment under the floor, while optional features include a cargo net, scrolling tonneau cover and power outlet. An overhead console on the LT includes a sunglasses holder plus Travelnote digital recorder.
Head-curtain side-impact airbags ($495) unfold from the roof rail between the A-pillar and side window header. When the bag deploys in a moderate-to-severe side impact, it is angled somewhat toward the window to help provide protection for front and rear-seat outboard passengers. The new system replaces the previous seat-mounted system, which protected the driver and front-seat passenger only. TrailBlazers equipped with head-curtain airbags also feature a new rollover sensing system that triggers both the side-curtain airbags and safety belt pretensioners. The rollover-sensing module uses a complex algorithm based on lateral and vertical accelerations, roll rate and vehicle speed to determine whether to deploy the safety systems. Standard on the 2005 TrailBlazer is GM's Passenger Sensing System (PSS), which can deactivate the front-passenger airbag if it senses an unoccupied front passenger seat or the presence of a smaller occupant. A status indicator on the instrument panel alerts occupants that the passenger airbag is on or off. Even with this system, however, we strongly recommend carrying under-age passengers in an appropriate child seat placed in the second or third row of the vehicle.
A variety of sound systems is available. We found the premium 275-watt Bose system offered outstanding sound quality and adjustment versatility. Most of the optional setups include RDS (Radio Data Systems) technology, allowing the listener to search for stations by type, display information including song and artist identification, and provide traffic and weather updates. Also available is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,295) with a seven-inch flip-down screen and wireless headphones. XM Satellite Radio ($325) is available on all TrailBlazers in the continental U.S., and provides 100 coast-to-coast, digital-quality channels of original music, news, sports and talk. The basic subscription costs $10 a month. Navigation Radio for the LT ($1,600-$1,995) incorporates a dash-mounted GPS system. Its touch-screen has been improved and updated for 2005, and its display is integrated into that of the sound system.
OnStar ($695) includes GPS navigation, hands-free cell phone communication and a free first year of safety and security service (including remote unlocking if you lock yourself out). Mind-boggling possibilities include everything from having your e-mail read to you by a computerized voice (Virtual Advisor) to getting directions to the nearest ATM. For 2005, new Gen6 technology promises easier hands-free operation, while expanded services include the new General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, making crash data available to 911 centers, which will hopefully dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster.
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