Chevrolet Trailblazer 2005: The Weekly Driver

With the addition of the 5.3-liter, 325-horsepower V8 extended cab (EXT), eight Chevrolet Trailblazer models are on the road in 2005. And as the largest and most powerful Blazer available, the new EXT has plenty to offer.

It’s comfortable and provides a confident drive. It offers vast cargo space, has an attractive two-tone interior, a well-designed console and boasts plenty of impressive option packages.

But sometimes subtle qualities or subtle deficiencies are more impressive or problematic than a vehicle’s overt characteristics.

So it is with the new Blazer. While recently showing the car to several friends, one sat in the second row of seats. Surprisingly, his head easily hit the roof. My friend is 6-foot-3, and while that’s tall, he’s not a giant by any stretch.

“I’ve got a Scion and there’s plenty of rear seat headroom,” my friend quickly commented.

The quick analysis made a good point. As the largest and most powerful Blazer available, shouldn’t a 6-foot-3 person sit comfortably in the middle of the car’s three rows?

Conversely, an SUV hardly seems like a vehicle for a remarkable sound system. But the Bose premium sound system available in the Blazer’s Sun, Sound and Entertainment Package is superior. The combination AM/FM stereo, six-disc changer, XM satellite radio and eight speakers are arguably the finest music package I’ve experienced in any test car in the past two years.

Beyond a curious space limitation and a wondrous sound system options, the Blazer offers an odd mixture. It’s a well-designed SUV with plenty of space for family and cargo. It has adequate steering and handling, and it offers a quiet ride considering its status as a large SUV with 17-inch tires.

Yet the Blazer also falls short in key areas.

The vehicle’s braking system seems uneven – fine in some circumstance, soft in other scenarios with far-too-long response time.

The Blazer maneuvers well in traffic and its turning radius is surprisingly tight and efficient. But again, for each of the vehicle strengths, there are weaknesses. The Blazer’s fuel rating of 14 mpg (city) and 19 (hwy) is hardly impressive.

Standard features are adequate: power mirrors, heated daytime running lamps, remote keyless entry, tinted rear glass, 65/35 second and third-row folding seats and a rear window defogger, among other standard items.

hree options packages, the aforementioned Sun, Sound and Entertainment, as well as the Luxury and V8 Power Play packages, can add nearly $7,000 to the base sticker, pushing the total price to more than $41,000.

Some of the options are worthwhile, including Onstar Emergency System (with one year of free service) and leather-appointed seat. Yet other options, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering wheel audio controls, are standard for other manufacturer’s SUVs.

A Preferred Equipment Savings reduction of $3,1500 lowers the top-of-the line Blazer’s price, after a $685 destination charge, to $38,515.

As such, the Blazer isn’t the most expensive or most economical SUV on the market. But certainly, for nearly $40,000, good brakes and sufficient second-seat headroom shouldn’t be issues.

Safety features – Dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags. Antilock brakes.

Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Power train, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles; 24-hour free roadside assistance, 3 years, 36,000 miles

Base price – $34,270.00

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