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    In LT 4x2 AT package, Chevrolet Trailblazer dishes out the practical, comfy stuff—but not the safety kit

    In LT 4×2 AT package, Chevrolet Trailblazer dishes out the practical, comfy stuff—but not the safety kit

    CONFIGURABLE lights and wallpapers are nifty all right, especially so if you’re 12. But it’s the no-frills stuff that works simply and effectively that’s best.

    Chevrolet’s Trailblazer, in 2.8 LT 4×2 AT form, is one such stuff. It has 16-inch wheels because these work about the same as 18-inch ones, and definitely ride a whole lot better than the 22-inch bling jobs. Its seats are wrapped in fabric because leather, while good-looking, is correspondingly pricey and is hot to sit on when the car is left under the sun to bake. Its audio head unit does not need an 8-year-old’s tech aptitude to operate—meaning it’s mindlessly simple to use. The car in these photos is red because, well, I don’t really know why. But a lot of people like red cars. And red cars photograph nicely.

    Other nice things the Trailblazer brings are a cavernous cabin that seats five quite comfortably and seven if need be, provided the shortest pair among the bunch take the third-row chairs; a boot that swallows a good amount of luggage (even more when the rear furniture is folded down) and is easily accessed through a tailgate whose door handle is exactly that—a handle; air-conditioning that uses simple dials as controls; and interior materials that spell quality all throughout—tough-looking but premium enough.

    Driving the Trailblazer won’t elicit gripes either. Its wishbones in front and five-link suspension in the rear cushion against the rough things Metro Manila roads spit out while remaining far from being wallowing, letting the SUV to track and steer controllably without compromising comfort. Its smaller wheels help in softening and quieting things down because of the added rubber their taller tires have, as well as the less poundage they carry. Also impressive is the Trailblazer’s steering which, while not sporty, is weighted well, returning enough feedback to assure that they really connect with the front wheels.

    In the latest evolution of the automatic-gearbox Trailblazer, the SUV gets Chevrolet’s upgraded four-pot Duramax diesel engine, which is turbocharged and intercooled, and is fed by a common rail direct injection system. It now displaces 2.8 liters (2,776cc, to be exact, which is up from the previous 2.5 liters, or an optimistic round-off for 2,449cc) and spins out 200hp at 3,800rpm and an astounding 500Nm of torque from as low as 2,000rpm. That’s a 120Nm improvement over the 2.5-liter mill.

    As can be gleaned from these ratings, propulsion is no concern as the power on hand (or under the driver’s right shoe) is more than adequate to launch the Trailblazer briskly from rest. Or from just about any speed, for that matter, as the six-speed automatic gearbox that bolts to the engine spreads the oomph around. What the numerous gears also help achieve is excellent fuel economy as the engine—provided we’re talking sane driving habits—spins at its most efficient revs most of the time.

    So, the Trailblazer is comfy, can seat a lot of passengers and haul even more luggage, and is nice enough to drive in the city or highway alike. Plus, it looks modern and quite imposing, too. It makes a compelling body-on-frame, seven-seat SUV choice then, right?

    Well, guess so if we’re talking about the top-spec LTZ 4×4 variant. Because in LT 4×2 trim (whether with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox) the Trailblazer sees some of its most important stuff gone—its safety features. The LT variants lose out not only on the LTZ’s fancy safety items like hill-descent, electronic stability program, panic brake assist, cornering brake control and brake-fade assist but also on more basic kit like hill-start assist and traction control. In terms of active safety features, all that’s left in the LT are ABS and EBD.

    The P1,488,888 price tag of the LT 4×2 AT is all right without the multimedia and other bling jobs, or even four-wheel drive. But it’s advisable to swing for an extra P245,000 and go for the LTZ 4×4 instead, which delivers a lot more luxury goodies, as well as the fancy safety kit.

    And these should be great whether one is 12 or older.

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