2006 TrailBlazer EXT New Car Test Drive
The Chevy TrailBlazer is among the best of the truck-based midsize SUVs. It's capable of hauling heavy loads and negotiating rugged off-road terrain. Yet it's also smooth, comfortable and civilized. These are benefits of its rigid chassis, sophisticated suspension, and powerful brakes. Curtain-style side-impact airbags with a rollover sensing system are available for increased head protection.
For 2006, GM's excellent StabiliTrak electronic stability control system comes standard across the TrailBlazer lineup. StabiliTrak helps drivers maintain control by reducing or eliminating skidding in emergency handling situations. 2006 TrailBlazer models have been upgraded with a revised brake system designed for improved responsiveness along with sound-deadening measures designed to reduce noise.
The TrailBlazer is stable and maneuverable. It handles washboard surfaces well, a nice benefit on unpaved roads. The TrailBlazer is also quite capable off road when equipped with its sophisticated four-wheel-drive system and optional skid plates.
The extended-wheelbase TrailBlazer EXT adds substantial cargo space and seven-passenger seating, but it's longer than a Tahoe, and we prefer the standard TrailBlazer for its superior handling and stability.
TrailBlazer comes standard with a superbly smooth and modern Vortec 4200 inline six-cylinder engine, which has been upgraded for 2006, and it's our first choice unless towing is a big part of the picture. The Vortec 5400 V8, with its Displacement on Demand technology promising improved fuel economy is available as an option on all 2006 TrailBlazer models. Equipped with the V8, a 2WD TrailBlazer EXT can tow up to 7,000 pounds.
A new TrailBlazer SS has joined the line-up for 2006, featuring the 395-horsepower, 6.0-liter LS2 V8 derived from the Chevy Corvette, along with a sport-tuned suspension and competition brakes. The SS gets unique exterior and interior trim and is available with all-wheel drive.
Chevy TrailBlazer comes in two trim levels, LS ($26,700) and LT ($29,115). Each is available in regular and EXT extended wheelbase lengths. The long-wheelbase EXT LS ($28,320) and LT ($30,520) are stretched 16 inches between the front and rear wheels to provide a third row of seats for seven-passenger capacity and more cargo room. Four-wheel drive is available on all models ($2,250).
The base engine for all TrailBlazers is the 291-horsepower Vortec 4200, a 4.2-liter inline-6. The Vortec 5300 5.3-liter overhead-valve V8, rated 300 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, is now available as an option ($1500) on both the standard and EXT models. All come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The TrailBlazer SS ($32,890) comes with GM's LS2 6.0-liter V8 engine, which produces 395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Chevy claims the SS can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. The SS is equipped with a heavy-duty version of GM's four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, the 4L70E, and is available with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
For added safety, GM's StabiliTrack electronic stability control system is now standard on all TrailBlazer models. This system uses a full range of motion and control sensors, coupled to actuators on the throttle and individual wheel brakes to sense and mitigate any unintended changes in vehicle direction. Other safety features include dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, which inflate with less intensity in slower crashes. An enhanced passenger safety belt reminder is standard as are pretensioners on the outboard front-seat belts, that tighten to take up slack when the air bags deploy. Side-impact head-curtain airbags are optional ($495). The optional OnStar system includes GM's Automatic Crash Notification System to transmit crash scene data automatically to participating 911 emergency systems.
LS models are 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, luggage rack roof rails, and three power outlets. An optional package ($1,185) adds remote keyless entry, content-theft alarm, heated foldaway mirrors, a rear window defogger, color-keyed carpeted floor mats, crossbars for the luggage rack, and Charcoal-colored body-side moldings.
LT adds fog lamps, an overhead console with HomeLink transmitter and Travelnote digital recorder, body-color grille and door handles, eight-way power for the driver's seat, a trailer wiring harness and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Two-tone leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and dual front eight-way power reclining bucket seats with adjustable lumbar support are available as a package ($1,180). The front and rear fascias, grille, headlamps, rocker panels and body side moldings on the LT have been revised for 2006 to give the upscale model a more distinctive appearance.
TrailBlazer EXT LS and TrailBlazer EXT LT are equipped similarly to their standard-wheelbase counterparts, but add third-row seating plus separate rear-seat heating and air conditioning controls. EXT LS models come standard with a HomeLink transmitter, fog lamps, 17-inch wheels, and other upgrades.
Options include a new Sun, Sound, and Entertainment Package ($1,165), which includes the sunroof, ETR audio system with six Bose speakers, 6CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, and DVD rear-seat entertainment system. Cruise control ($275), a tilt-and-slide sunroof ($950), and OnStar ($695), are available separately, but OnStar and cruise control can be ordered as a package ($700). Adjustable pedals ($150) and navigation ($1,995) are offered on the LT only. XM Satellite Radio ($325) is optional on all models, and an MP3 player is offered on LS ($135). DVD entertainment ($1,295) is available on all models. Various axle ratios (3.42, 3.73, and 4.10:1) and a lockin.