2003 TrailBlazer EXT New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet TrailBlazer is smooth and powerful, with a stunning straight-six engine, a stiff chassis, a sophisticated suspension, powerful brakes and impressive details. It's capable of off-road travel, but feels stable and comfortable on the highway.
For 2003, the TrailBlazer adds an extended-wheelbase model with seating for seven, and an optional all-aluminum V8 for more towing power. The fuel tank is larger. And there's even a new North Face Edition with exclusive interior and exterior trim.
The V8 delivers strong torque for towing, but the six-cylinder engine delivers plenty of power for the TrailBlazer. The long-wheelbase TrailBlazer EXT sacrifices handling for third-row seating.
The 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer is available in two wheelbase lengths, four trim levels, with 2WD or 4WD. Long-wheelbase Trailblazers are called Trailblazer EXT, and stretch 16 inches longer to provide a third row of seats for seven-passenger capacity.
The base engine for all Trailblazers is the Vortec 4200, which was all-new for 2002. This sophisticated 4.2-liter inline-6 uses dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable phasing for the exhaust cam to produce a stunning 275 horsepower, best in a class that includes Ford and Jeep V8s. Its torque output is impressive as well, at 275 pounds-feet.
For 2003, extended-wheelbase Trailblazers are available with an optional 5.3-liter, overhead-valve V8, developing 290 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. Equipped with the V8, a two-wheel-drive Trailblazer EXT can tow 7,200 pounds (or 7,000 pounds with 4WD).
Standard equipment on all models includes dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, which inflate with less intensity in slower crashes. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are optional ($350).
LS ($27,595) is nicely equipped with dual-zone air conditioning, CD player, reclining bucket seats and floor console, power windows and programmable door locks, tilt steering, four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch aluminum wheels, perimeter lighting, and three power outlets. LS is available only on the short wheelbase.
LT ($29,725) adds cruise control, fog lamps, a Homelink transmitter, driver information center, luggage rack, heated power mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium-grade upholstery with eight-way power for the driver's seat, and an alarm. LT also comes with GM's OnStar security system with GPS tracking and cell phone communication, including emergency assistance and remote unlocking.
LTZ ($33,570) is the luxury-grade TrailBlazer, with leather upholstery, dual power seats (and memory for the driver), automatic climate control, overhead console, and audio controls in the rear seat and on the steering wheel. Wheels and tires upgrade from 245/70R16 to 245/65R17.
The North Face Edition ($35,615) is essentially an LTZ with unique North Face seats, mesh map pockets, Rainsense automatic wipers, liftgate lighting, an under-floor storage cargo liner, heavy-duty floor/cargo mats, an adjustable cargo shelf with a table (EXT model only) and North Face duffel bags and blanket. It also sports some unique exterior identification.
The LT and North Face Edition are offered in extended-wheelbase form. The LT EXT ($31,645) and the North Face EXT ($36,955) come with third-row seating with separate rear-seat heating and air conditioning controls. They are fitted with 17-inch wheels and tires.
Four-wheel drive (4WD) adds $1775-$2355 to all of the prices above, depending on trim level. (It costs more on the more premium models.) Skid plates for the transfer case and fuel tank ($130) and a locking rear differential ($270) are optional on all four models (and mandatory on North Face Editions).
The LS comes with a trailer hitch platform; LT and LTZ add a wiring connector for trailer brakes. The standard final drive ratio on all TrailBlazers is 3.42:1; however 3.73 and 4.10 ratios are available ($50) for more responsive towing. (The 4.10 ratio is not available with the V8 engine.)
Options for the LT and LTZ include 2WD traction control ($195), running boards ($375), a Bose sound system ($495), and a rear-seat DVD entertainment center ($1000). A sliding electric sunroof costs $550 on LT and LTZ, but is available on LS only as a package with OnStar for $800.