General Quarters

THE TRAILBLAZER MAY BE A GLOBAL GM DESIGN, BUT IT STILL RELIES ON A GOOD DEAL OF LOCAL ENGINEERING KNOW-HOW.

HOLDEN TRAILBLAZER

HOLDENíS Trailblazer arrived in 2017 and was a top-tobottom re-engineering of the Colorado 7, a wagon based off the all-new Colorado ute that arrived in 2012.

The Trailblazer, like the Colorado 7 and the current Colorado, is very much a global GM design, drawing in elements from Europe, North and South America, South-East and Australia, but it has even more Australian input than the Colorado 7 and is better off for it.

As a wagon based on a ute, the predicable elements are there: a powertrain and front suspension carried over from the donor ute, essentially the same ladder frame but with a shorter wheelbase, and coil springs and disc brakes at the rear instead of leaf springs and drums.

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

THE Trailblazerís 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel, the second biggest engine here, comes from Italian diesel specialist VM Motori, once part-owned by General Motors. Thereís now more GM input into the engine thanks to the 2017 (Colorado 7 to Trailblazer) upgrades that fattened out the power delivery and more importantly brought smoother and quieter running. In this company, though, the 2.8 is noisier than the Rexton and the Pajero Sport, and even noisier at times than the MU-X.

Itís also the strongest engine here and one that lives up to the promise of its on-paper 147kW/500Nm claim. Pedalto-metal it will see off the other three and, while it thrives on revs more than the Isuzuís bigger and lazier engine, itís not as revvy as the smaller diesels in the Pajero Sport or the Rexton. Top marks also to the Trailblazerís responsive and pro-active six-speed GM automatic, the sportiest gearbox here even if others shift more smoothly.

JUST AS THE TRAILBLAZERíS ON-ROAD DEMEANOUR IS MUCH IMPROVED, SO TOO IS ITS OFF-ROAD ABILITY

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING

THE Trailblazer also stands out in this company with its electric power steering (EPS), another of the changes that came with the Colorado 7 to Trailblazer rebirth. Its EPS makes for very light wheel twirling when parking or manoeuvring, but firms up nicely at highway speeds and provides a positive feel thatís as good if not better than any other wagon here.

Handling is tidy, too, and thereís a generally smooth, quiet and compliant ride on most roads; another improvement over the Colorado 7. The suspension is certainly better sorted than the closely related MU-X and is well ahead of the Rexton.

WHATíS IN A NAME?

IN ITS first iteration the Trailblazer was called the Colorado 7, simply because it was a seven-seat wagon based on the Colorado ute. But in creating the Trailblazer, Holden did a lot more than changing the name, as the Colorado 7 was stripped right down to its last nut and bolt before being put back together again with a large number of new and revised parts. The changes addressed engine NVH, the feel and response of the automatic gearbox, the steering, ride and handling, cabin noise, interior fit and finish, and off-road performance, effectively providing a whole new driving experience.

OFF-ROAD

JUST AS the Trailblazerís on-road demeanour is much improved, so too is its off-road ability thanks to an off-road specific recalibration of the electronic traction control that was part of the name-change re-engineering. This is the key point that makes the Trailblazer better than the otherwise similar MU-X, with which it shares most other things that define how they perform off-road (which for the both of them is generally better than the other two).

Even if itís as good as it gets in this company off-road, the Trailblazer isnít over endowed with suspension travel, nor does it have a rear locker; so its effective traction control system is the key element in getting it through difficult going that will strand the other three here.

CABIN, ACCOMMODATION AND SAFETY

THE Trailblazer sits midfield in this class with its cabin space. Itís bigger than the Pajero Sport but smaller than the Rexton and, of course, matches the MU-X with which it shares the same basic body shell. Itís spacious and comfortable up front, but thereís no steering wheel reach adjustment for the driver.

Second-row seat space also matches MU-X and betters the Pajero Sport, but itís a bit tighter than the spacious Rexton. Access to the third-row is easy enough and thereís even room for adults at a squeeze.

The way the Trailblazerís (and MU-Xís) third-row seats fold makes for a high cargo floor and, annoyingly, there are only two cargo hooks at the rear of the luggage space and none at the front. When the third-row seat is in place thereís also very little luggage space left, all of which mirrors the MU-X.

Being an LTZ our test vehicle had the luxury of leather and heated front seats, with electric adjustment for the driver. It comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating, as well as a good deal of advanced safety kit on top of that.

PRACTICALITIES

THE Trailblazer has the biggest fuel tank here but isnít quite as thrifty on fuel as the MU-X or the Rexton, which means it finishes second on range - around 600km, given our test fuel use (11.6L/100km) and a 50km Ďsafetyí allowance.

The Trailblazerís standard 265/60R18 wheel and tyre package is common to many new 4x4s (Hilux included) so thereís a wide aftermarket tyre choice. You can also fit the 17s off the LT for an even wider and more off-road practical tyre choice.

The Trailblazerís 3000kg tow rating matches the others bar the 3100kg of the Pajero Sport, but heavy-duty towing experience with the Colorado would suggest the Trailblazerís powertrain would be the best for towing performance in this company.

THE STANDARD WHEEL AND TYRE PACKAGE IS COMMON TO MANY NEW 4X4S, SO THEREíS A WIDE AFTERMARKET TYRE CHOICE

WHAT YOU GET

ALL Trailblazer models from the LT up get seven airbags, a reversing camera, rear-parking sensors, a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and LED DRLs. The LTZ adds to that with leather, sat-nav, front parking sensors, climate control air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, tyrepressure monitoring and a host of safety features including forward collision alert, blindspot monitoring, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The LTZ also swaps to an eight-inch touchcreen and 18s. The Z71 then adds largely cosmetic enhancements including black-finished wheels, body mouldings, mirrors and door handles.