In-Depth Automotive Review – 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS – The Bargain Bin SUV?

Chevrolet’s Trailblazer has long been the decaying iron horse in recent years, trying so hard to fit in with the huge gang of more reliable and cutting edge of SUV’s. Don’t get me wrong, the Trailblazer and Envoy still have so much to offer the consumer if looks or interior amenities mean little. It’s where this blight of aging, does the wrinkles start to show until one day the faithful midsizer finally disappears into the archives. Was it a successful run? Or did it flop around aimlessly looking for fresh new waters to dive into? I’ll give consumers the lowdown on what still makes this SUV a tremendous bargain by examining the brains and brawn that many of us still look for.

Back in 2002, the Trailblazer had great looks, very rugged yet handsome. It even commanded presence and with the release of the SS model, gained street cred as one of the most potent sport SUV’s in the market. Now six years later, the Trailblazer still looks the same on the exterior with no mid model updates except maybe a headlight change or two, it is pretty much a stale cowboy peering into more golden horizons. Exterior fit and finish is sub par in this class, especially with the more up to date competition out there. Base models had windows that were delete any standard tinting, plastics on the door handles, roof rack, and lighting was cheap and undesirable as well. And it is with these negatives, that has made a sour affect with Trailblazer’s crash safety ratings and long lasting durability. Today, it barely passes as good enough, if not the cheap, everyday driver’s SUV. It was simply a cheap rental fleet thrill.

Again, the interior dash appointments were underwhelming with cheesy-ness, but I’m not going to dwell on that subject. The seats are still comfortable, and on long trips made my body feel pretty good and still pliable, no complaints here. The instrumentation is basic but does the job perfectly with subtle, pleasing to the eyes green lighting, check mark on good here. The radio was unfancified and lacked any sort of modern twists such as input jack for ipods, which has become an important staple in the teenager’s lifestyle, wasn’t too crazy here. Room is plentiful in the second row, no problems with leg room or seating comfort. Made for three, but two is much more reasonable back there for the carpool adventures. Additionally, the rear seats are in a 60/40 configuration that could be folded for a number of different loading situations, another plus. All in all, I’d say the Trailblazer does a decent job at staying true to its interior functionality.

Lastly, just like it’s first year models, the Trailblazer has been equipped with that phenomenal 4.2 I-6 which puts out a respectable 292 HP. I checkmarked it’s capable powertrain through some uphill interstate acceleration tests, and it was more than satisfying. Still a great engine! However, the engine is loud, coarse sounding like it is really fighting to stay in the higher RPM’s. This in turned transferred that noise into the interior, not the quiet interlude I was looking for. The body also rolled a little, keeping in mind this is the truck-based platform, and wasn’t refined in tackling those curvy curves. Gas mileage is in the tar pits with this one, buy a lot of SUV’s are in that classification anyways. Great torque action, faithful transmission, and high stance give this SUV a more backwoods, offroad definition.

And so with the whole package, there’s gotta be some light at the end of the tunnel. And I’ve decided to switch gears and talk about the positive idea to the purchase at the end of my review. Before the test drive, I wasn’t in a mood to spend what the base LS trim was going for, at that time it started just shy of $26k. It was when, that by the time I did some research and talked to a couple owners did I realize the true bargain element. I’ve found that consumers can easily save $7-8k off MSRP with rebates and discounts, playing this SUV into the under $20k margin and undercutting its cheaper, smaller Chevy Equinox by a couple thousand bucks. So wow, that makes this the ultimate bargain truck to be had, and it had to be that way so that Chevy can sell the rest of its 2008 inventory before the new Traverse comes out. In the grand scheme of things, I’d pay the money for this and avoid higher priced trucks like the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, and Kia Sorento.

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