The Chevy Trailblazer is back, albeit in a smaller form. It is back with a great look and loaded with all kinds of technology.
Fifteen years ago, Craig’s dad, Martin, purchased a new Chevy Trailblazer and used it to haul newspapers every week from Tooele to Springville.
That version of the Trailblazer actually became the Chevrolet Traverse, that is in the lineup today, complete with three-row seating and just smaller than the Tahoe. This new version of the Trailblazer, however, is much smaller, slotting into the compact-SUV market.
It can be had in a couple of different trim levels, those being either an RS or what Chevrolet has named “ACTIV.” We found out that the ACTIV version came complete with active dampers, 17-inch wheels, a higher ground clearance and increased underbody protection.
We knew some kind of off-road adventure was a must.
Deanne turned to the Explore Utah webpage where we found that there is large herd of wild horses located in the west desert along the old Pony Express Trail, and after some reading, it looked like this would be the perfect test for the new Chevy Trailblazer, where we could spend most of an entire Saturday off-road in the dirt.
Before heading out, we — of course — connected our phones to the new Trailblazer, and yes, it can take two devices at the same time with the main device actually being connected to Apple CarPlay wirelessly.
No cords from the phone to the dashboard were required, something we have only seen in expensive BMW’s up to this time, and here it was in a Chevy. We thought it was super cool.
Mapping out the first leg of our journey from Springville to a rest stop on the Pony Express Trail, named Simpson Springs, was easy, however, we did download maps from the computer to get to other places in the desert as the day progressed.
We hit the first dirt road just north of Faust as we headed into the desert and up over what has been named Lookout Pass from the days of the Pony Express. From then on, it was a dirt road for almost the rest of the day as we drove from maker to marker on the trail, looking for wild horses and other animals that may frequent the watering stations set up by the Bureau of Land Management.
Switching the Trailblazer to all-wheel drive, at this point, had the small SUV handling the dirt and gravel with ease, even climbing to the 6,200 foot summit without a care in the world.
We were very impressed with how well the ACTIV version was so well suited for the dirt. There were even times during the day that we had the speedometer up to 50 miles per hour on the dirt roads.
Inside the new Trailblazer kept us completely comfortable with leatherette seating surfaces that were heated, which helped with our early-morning start as temperatures hovered above 50 degrees. The designers had also included soft touch points throughout the cabin and a great center console armrest.
By the time we arrived at Simpson Springs campground, we had been on the road about 3 hours, two of which were in the dirt. It was time to take a break and get out the lunch we had brought along. We had also seen a batch of wild horses by this time, so it felt like a mission accomplished.
During the trip, we fell in love with the large 8-inch infotainment screen that became the center of attention out on the dirt roads, not only navigating us around but also keeping us entertained and comfortable as the afternoon got warmer.
The added Bose stereo system helped greatly with the entertainment portion of the drive as we listened to everything from music to talk radio. The wireless phone charger helped to keep our phones fully charged throughout the day as we used them to navigate the desert.
After lunch, we headed for a location we never would have expected in the Utah Desert, that of Fish Springs — a 70,000 acre site that is maintained for birds of all types as a natural aquifer feeds it year round. This wild life sanctuary is an oasis in the middle of the desert and well worth the trip to see just it.
After that, it was decision time: which way? To head to Delta or Wendover, Nevada? We choose the latter and another 75 miles of dirt road.
Our test ride Trailblazer came equipped with 1.3 liter, three cylinder turbocharged engine that produced a very nice 155 horsepower with 174 pounds feet of torque. Now, before everyone goes off wondering how three cylinders could possibly move the small SUV, we were very impressed with its abilities, even in traffic.
The last leg of our journey ended up being a straight shot from Wendover, Nevada, home to Springville on Interstate 80, where the posted speed for most of the ride was 80 miles per hour.
The Trailblazer handled this speed and even a little more as we set the cruise at 85 miles per hour for the trip. It may not win any races, but it will hold its own on the open road.
This system is connected to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission, with Chevy also offering a continuously variable transmission, which we would like to drive to see the difference. On the gas mileage side, we ended the week with a very nice 29 miles per gallon; not bad for any type of SUV.
The new Trailblazer certainly lived up to its name during our test week, taking us on some new trails we had never blazed in the past. This new SUV should prove to be a leader in the pack with all the new added technology.
Base Price: $26,900
Price as Driven: $20,560