The Trailblazer, with a new name and upgrades, is the replacement for the Colorado7 – as part of an overhaul of Holden’s lineup.
We jumped in the new heavy-duty wagon to test it out.
When Holden announced the shutdown of it’s Australian manufacturing arm, the loudest complaints were over what would happen to the six decades of engineering knowledge built up amongst the staff.
Luckily, the research and development team are still working in the proving grounds to tune all the cars from overseas to run smoothly on Australian roads.
The Trailblazer should have a familiar look to people who’ve seen the Colorado 7 and the new Colorado ute. The two-box design remains similar; although the shape has been finessed to cut down make it more aerodynamic – all part of improving the fuel economy, as well softening noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) inside the cabin.
Inside, the LTZ – the higher of the two tiers available in the Trailblazer – mirrors the interior of up-spec versions of the Colorado ute with 8.0 inch myLink screen with Apple Carplay/Android Auto compatibility, dual zone climate control all built into a dash that seems much more upmarket and deserving of the $50,000 price tag that the Trailblazer hovers around.
In developing the new model, the Trailblazer has gained new chassis and drivetrain tweaks that make it a much more pleasant car to be in.
On the road, the Trailblazer is far more settled than its predecessor: quieter and smoother on the road and providing a far less jolting when you’re off road or crossing rough surfaces.
While the 2.8L turbo-diesel engine remains unchanged, the engineers at Holden took their tools to everything else underneath the bonnet, tweaking dampers in the suspension system and an absorber into the gearbox to minimise vibrations of the car being felt in the cabin.
The lack of a proper locking rear differential, however, could concern those taking it really seriously off-road (into territory marked for cars with low range and off-road suspensions) – it acquits itself well, with no qualms going off road, but in extreme situations where the suspension is taken to its limits the lack of a lockable rear diff may prove the deciding factor in whether you pick up the keys to the Trailblazer.
(Basically a diff keeps the wheels spinning at the same rate as all the others, which is what you need if your vehicle is travelling on uneven surfaces, where one or more of the wheels is likely to lose traction at some point.)
Where the Trailblazer does excel, though, is as a cruiser for long haul trips. The low down torque of the engine, combined with the 3000kg braked towing capacity means that, as a machine for the holidays, the big 4WD can comfortably go where other ‘soft roaders’ may fear to tread. Hitch a boat or caravan onto the back and it’s a go anywhere family wagon – which can then ditch the trailer and head into town for dinner.
Road holding and steering feedback is reliably direct, with little of the tendency of tall wagons with off-road suspensions to wander around on the highway vaguely – turn the wheel in the Trailblazer and it will comply (thanks to a new electric steering setup); the engine keeping pace ably around town and on the freeway.
Acceleration is sufficient enough to keep pace around town, as well as traffic on the highway – providing enough power in a pinch to take advantage of small gaps in traffic, and get about without holding up traffic around town.
As an off-road tourer, the Trailblazer faces a contest from a re-ignited segment that boasts competitors jockeying to be the best at everything, to everyone: on the highway, around town; on road and off – all with varying degrees of success.
Seven seat, proper 4WDs are big business, and the former Colorado7 was one of the first ones to tackle the segment head on in 2012. Now, despite adopting its name from the American version – Holden has worked hard to adapt it again for Australian conditions.
On road comfort has become a priority, with sound deadening improved immensely, and ride quality is now a lot smoother while still remaining relatively happy to provide driver feedback – it’s no sports car, but the Trailblazer works well to make itself easier to drive than its initial size and purpose may suggest.
Unlike some others, the Trailblazer offers proper seating for seven passengers, meaning that the ‘plus-two’ third row is no longer only for the occasional traveller. If necessary, the third row can work for every day use or provide a pew for long distance rides without complaints from the rearmost passengers.
Equipment levels are also up on the Colorado 7, making it a much nicer place to spend your time. The LTZ gets leather trim throughout the cabin, front heated seats, plus a bigger 8.0” touchscreen in the centre console; dual zone climate control and a big batch of preventative safety measures like front and rear park assist, forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane wander alert.
The safety features ensure that the Trailblazer maintains a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, with seven airbags across the range (driver’s knee airbag added to the six of the Colorado7) and tyre pressure monitoring, over and above the entry-level LT models.
Fuel consumption is down to a quoted 8.6L/100km on an average combined cycle; going off-road will see this spike to the mid-teens, as will adding a caravan or boat onto the back.
The entry model LT remains unchanged from the Colorado7’s pricing at $47,990, but the LTZ bumps up to $52,490 to reflect the increased research and development that has gone into the new Trailblazer. Prices exclude on-road costs including registration, stamp duty, dealer delivery and other costs.
Premium paint colours are available for $550, with Summit White and Absolute Red the only no-cost options.
Servicing costs are capped for the lifetime of the vehicle through Holden Capped Price Servicing, starting at $349 for the first four scheduled services (to 36 months/60,000km), rising to $409 for the next three (to 72 months/105,000km.)
Scheduled services are due every 9 months or 15,000kms.
The time and money given to Holden’s research and development team and poured into adapting the Trailblazer to Australia’s unique, often harsh, roads and driving conditions has obviously been well spent in making the big wagon as comfortable as possible for all seven seats.
As a touring wagon, the Trailblazer has matured and further separated away from the Colorado ute with a sophisticated interior and off-road prowess that makes it well worth a spot on the shopping list.
Motorama Holden at Moorooka and Springwood have the Trailblazer ready for you test drive and get out on the road in, so see the friendly team to jump into the new off-road wagon.