2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Rating

55/100

Background

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is the company’s midsize SUV entry. Last redesigned in 2002, when it received more power, sharper styling and a roomier cabin, the current version is dated in some areas, yet modern in others. Now that the long-wheelbase EXT version has been dropped, there is no TrailBlazer with a third-row seat and hence passenger capacity is limited to five.Luxury and performance features, such as a navigation system, DVD system and stability control are fully up to date. However, the handling dynamics are more 1987 than 2007, as the standard TrailBlazer’s mushy suspension and vague steering don’t inspire confidence on twisty roads. Less important gripes concern the cabin, which has a rather bland design and some subpar materials.The high-performance SS version takes care of the handling woes via a laundry list of modifications made to the suspension and steering that give this SUV crisp, tightly controlled handling that approaches that of sporty cars. The SS also provides rip-roaring performance, courtesy of a 6.0-liter V8 borrowed from the Corvette.Although the 2007 Chevy TrailBlazer has a few strong points in its favor, a number of competitors, namely the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner, handily top it in terms of cabin refinement and handling composure while also offering the option of third-row seating. The thoroughly competent and tons o’ fun TrailBlazer SS is another story — its only real competition comes from Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT8, which costs around 20 percent more than the SS.

Drive

The TrailBlazer’s suspension is a mixed bag. Its soft tuning results in an extremely cozy drive around town and on the highway. But push it hard into a corner, or take a bump too fast in the dirt, and the TrailBlazer’s soft setup gets out of sorts quickly. The SS is another story — around town and at normal freeway speeds the drive is firm but comfortable. When pressed on twisty roads, the SS’ body motions are extremely well controlled, the steering feel is excellent and there’s very little lean during hard cornering.

Exterior

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is available in four trim levels: LS, LT, 1SS and 3SS. The LS comes with 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone manual air-conditioning, cruise control, OnStar, a CD player and power windows and locks. LT models add foglamps, a roof rack, power mirrors, keyless entry, a rear window defogger and a temperature/compass display. Going with the LT also allows one to access additional options not found on the LS, including 18-inch wheels, leather seating with power front seats, power-adjustable pedals, heated front seats and outside mirrors, memory driver seat positioning, and a trip computer. Other major options (depending on trim) include a sunroof, a rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system, upgraded Bose audio, a power driver seat, an in-dash CD changer and satellite radio.The base TrailBlazer SS (1SS) is equipped similarly to the LS in terms of basic features but also features a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, a monochromatic exterior and black mesh grille, high-performance brakes and a faster steering rack. The uplevel 3SS essentially adds the LT’s equipment as well as some of its extras like the leather seating, power front seats and adjustable pedals.

Interior

The TrailBlazer’s cabin offers decent comfort for five adults, and most controls are simple, but the overall ambiance is rather bland. Apart from a white-faced tach and a monogrammed “SS” on the seats, there’s nothing special about the SS model’s interior. Cargo capacity is generous; with the seats in use there are 44 cubic feet available, but if you fold down the 60/40-split rear seat, it nearly doubles, putting 80 cubes at your disposal.

Safety

Standard are antilock disc brakes and stability control, while side curtain airbags are optional on all trim levels. In NHTSA side-impact crash testing, a Chevy TrailBlazer equipped with the side curtain bags scored a perfect five stars for front and rear occupants. Frontal impact testing resulted in three-star ratings for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. In frontal offset crash testing by the IIHS, the TrailBlazer received a “Marginal” score (the second-lowest ranking on a four-point scale).

Specs

The Chevy TrailBlazer comes standard with a 4.2-liter inline six that produces 291 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. A 5.3-liter V8 (300 hp and 330 lb-ft) is optional; it features cylinder-deactivation technology to boost mileage. In terms of towing capacity, 6-cylinder models are rated at 6,200 pounds and V8s at 6,800 pounds. Both engines come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission. Two- or four-wheel drive (4WD) is offered.The TrailBlazer SS packs a 6.0-liter V8 borrowed from the Corvette. In this application, it’s rated for 391 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. The SS also comes matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel drive is again offered, but instead of 4WD this TrailBlazer has an all-wheel-drive system that improves on-pavement performance at the expense of off-road ability. The SS is seriously quick and can hit 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds.

Value

Powerful performance, cozy on the highway, lots of features, simple controls.

Verdict

Strong performance, a roomy cabin and plentiful features are strong points for the 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, but mediocre interior materials and handling (SS model excepted) prevent our full endorsement.

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