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Holden Trailblazer 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the Holden Trailblazer with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the Holden Trailblazer with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

As Australians continue to gorge themselves on SUVs, it's a good time to remind ourselves about the difference between "faux-wheel-drives" and the real deal.

Most SUVs -- a term we have grudgingly adopted from the US to cover all types of recreational wagons and high riding hatchbacks, even if they are only two-wheel-drive rather than four-wheel-drive -- can barely handle more than a manicured gravel driveway.

And then there are cars like the Holden Trailblazer.

Unlike most SUVs which have a car-like body structure, vehicles like the Trailblazer have old-fashioned heavy-duty chassis rails on which the body is mounted.

They're cheaper to build and more rugged to drive and can get where most SUVs can't.

It's also easier for car companies to produce different derivatives off a shared chassis at a lower cost.

For example, the Holden Trailblazer shares much of its chassis with the Colorado ute. The same goes for the Ford Everest and Ranger, the Toyota Fortuner and HiLux and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Triton.

The Colorado7 has returned with a new look and a new name.

Given our appetite for the great outdoors, car companies have been cramming their showrooms with these ute-based 4WDs in the hope of hooking more buyers.

Holden had a crack at this niche of the market with the Colorado7 introduced in 2012.

But, as with the ute on which it is based, it was a victim of cost cutting by General Motors during the Global Financial Crisis and was underdone in every sense of the word.

Buyers noticed, and stayed away from it in droves, despite super sharp pricing.

The Isuzu M-UX -- which was initially a twin of the Colorado7 until an acrimonious split with General Motors -- has consistently and comprehensively outsold the Holden by more than two-to-one despite having roughly half as many dealers.

But now the Colorado7 has returned with a new look and a new name.

Holden has adopted the name given to the vehicle in Asia and the Middle East to distance the Trailblazer seven-seater from the Colorado ute -- even though they are made on the same Thailand production line and look identical from the front.

As with the recent overhaul of the Colorado, the changes to Trailblazer are more than skin deep.

There's more sound deadening and other tech changes designed to improve on-road refinement.

Holden engineers also put a spanner on the suspension and developed unique settings and tyres for Australia. The steering is now electrically assisted (rather than hydraulic).

Inside, there are now seven airbags and Apple Car Play on all models.

The high grade LTZ comes with forward collision warning (although not auto braking) and lane wander alert (although not lane keeping).

On the road

The biggest changes are to the way the Trailblazer drives.

The engine and transmission have new calibrations which have improved fuel efficiency and driveability.

The Trailblazer is more pleasant to drive than it was before, although it's still not class leading.

The six-speed auto transmission holds on to gears at lower revs, making hill climbing easy and gear changes less intermittent.

Although there have been attempts to make the ute quieter, Holden has been more successful at muting the Trailblazer. Although the engines are supposedly identical, there are changes to the emissions system that make the seven-seater quieter than the ute.

As with the ute, the Trailblazer is more pleasant to drive than it was before, although it's still not class leading.

The suspension tuning is identical for both the LT and LTZ models, and the Trailblazer rides more comfortably on the 17s rather than the 18s on the supposedly more luxurious model.

It's one of the great ironies of the motoring world: luxury models customarily get better looking (larger) wheels that limit their level of comfort.

Other shortcomings are also relatively minor: there are not enough USB ports (good luck arguing over who in this seven-seater gets to use the one USB port). At least there are three 12V sockets to share the load. And the driver's seat lacks under thigh adjustment.

The Trailblazer's biggest asset is its price and simplified model range.

The LT starts from $47,990 plus on-roads and the high grade LTZ is $52,490 plus on-roads.

That's almost dollar for dollar the same price as the Toyota Fortuner, and equivalent grades of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.

Importantly, both Trailblazer models undercut the over priced Ford Everest by at least $8000.

Verdict

The Holden Trailblazer may not be the best in class, but with significant improvements and a sharp price it deserves to go back on the shopping list.

Would you choose the Trailblazer over other ute-based SUVs? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

Click here to see more Holden Trailblazer pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$33,990
Based on 124 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$24,980
Highest Price
$43,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LT (4X4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $24,980 – 37,990 2017 Holden Trailblazer 2017 LT (4X4) Pricing and Specs
LTZ (4X4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $28,990 – 41,990 2017 Holden Trailblazer 2017 LTZ (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Z71 (4X4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $35,990 – 43,990 2017 Holden Trailblazer 2017 Z71 (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7