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Driven: Holden Trailblazer steps up

Blaze of glory: The Trailblazer features a new-look front end that was shaped in Australia.

NVH, ride improvements set to help boost Colorado 7-replacing Holden Trailblazer

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Holden logo9 Sep 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

GM HOLDEN is hoping for a bump in sales for its heavily revised Trailblazer off-roader after the disappointing reception of its Colorado 7, which it replaces in the increasingly busy ute-based SUV segment.

The Trailblazer forms part of a new strategy, recently detailed by Holden, to increase its presence in the SUV sector.

Following the October showroom debut of the Trailblazer will be a facelifted Trax crossover in January next year, then a yet-to-be-revealed global mid-size SUV to replace the ageing Captiva sometime in 2017 and capped off by the United States-sourced Acadia seven-seat SUV that will take in the Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9.

The Trailblazer sits in a sub-section of the sub-$70,000 large-SUV segment that includes the Australian developed Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner and the top-selling Isuzu MU-X, with which the Trailblazer shares many if its mechanicals.

Year to date, the MU-X still leads its rivals with 4547 sales to the end of August, followed by Pajero Sport on 3881, Fortuner with 3054, Everest at 2468 and the outgoing Colorado 7 on 1754.

Holden director of communications Sean Poppit admitted to GoAuto that while the Colorado 7 did not perform to expectations, the Trailblazer would do better against its rivals.

“We don’t talk about specific targets but we would be very disappointed if Trailblazer didn’t grow our share and our sales in that market,” he said. “I don’t want to put any firm numbers on it.

“MU-X has the advantage in that Isuzu really only has two cars they are trying to sell so all of their marketing focus goes into that. We obviously have a much broader range, but no ifs, ands or buts, Colorado 7 probably underperformed a little bit in sales and we are very confident we will be able to grow on that with Trailblazer.” Holden product marketing manager for Colorado and Trailblazer, Steven Vassallo, told GoAuto that the car-maker was hoping for more mainstream appeal from the new high-rider, while maintaining its appeal to off-road enthusiasts.

“The good thing about it is that it still keeps its off-road capability but now adds a level of refinement that allows us to appeal to a broader market,” he said.

Mr Vassallo added that the go-anywhere capability of the Trailblazer means it holds more appeal than city-focused large SUVs such as the Toyota Kluger.

“People are looking for something that at least gives them the option to go off road. Whereas a Kluger is very much an urban car. This appeals to those people who, even if they may not do it all the time, want to do the camping weekend away and go a bit off road but drive it around every day as a school bus.

“A big reason for purchase for something like this is the performance and the towing capacity. So that’s where there is a bit of an advantage.”

Mr Vassallo said that despite the similar dimensions of the Trailblazer and the just announced Acadia seven-seat SUV, the two SUVs would not confuse consumers as they will appeal to a different buyer set.

“Acadia is very much going to be pitched right in at Kluger and (Mazda) CX-9.

It is much more a metropolitan-orientated vehicle, which will be a level up in terms of pricing and specification. It is a different class of car, although dimensionally very similar.

“Really the Acadia and this (Trailblazer) will be at different ends of that segment so we are not too worried about it.”

Holden has maintained the keen $47,990 plus on-road costs opening price of the Colorado 7 for the new Trailblazer LT base variant, while the LTZ has increased by just $1000 to $52,490.

This means it is still more affordable than the entry version of the Everest ($54,990), but the Pajero Sport starts at $45,000 and the Fortuner has the same $47,990 starting price. The base four-wheel-drive MU-X is $45,600.

Under the bonnet is a lightly re-worked version of the 2.8-litre Duramax four-cylinder Euro 5 turbo-diesel engine found in the Colorado, delivering 147kW at 3600rpm and 500Nm at 2000-2200rpm.

It is matched with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and the Trailblazer now comes with a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) Torque Converter.

Holden says the “spring masses vibrate in the opposite direction of the torsional vibrations of the engine, balancing out undesirable torsional vibrations”, benefiting driveability, responsiveness and fuel economy.

The Trailblazer is offered with an unchanged braked towing capacity of 3000kg.

Holden engineers worked with their counterparts from GM Brazil to ensure a series of significant improvements over the outgoing model, including a revised electric power steering calibration that the car-maker says makes for a more precise steering feel thanks to a faster steering rack ratio and fewer turns lock to lock.

Holden and GM Brazil also made changes to improve the ride quality and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, which were areas that the Colorado 7 was criticised for when it launched in late 2012.

The Trailblazer has received upgraded chassis damper technology, a revised body mount strategy, new tyres for better wet weather performance and ride comfort, and a larger brake booster and master cylinder for improved brake pedal feel.

Also helping reduce cabin noise is a Wind Noise Package that Holden says is a combination of “plant robustness fixes” and thicker front side glass, extra or enhanced exterior seals, mouldings and foams.

The standard power windows even lower by a couple of centimetres when the door is opened so as not to buffet the cabin when the door is closed.

An Engine Acoustic Pack which includes a new metallic one-piece timing cover, new injector insulator and oil pan insulator, as well as the relocation of twin balance shafts, have helped improve the overall refinement to the engine.

Other mechanical changes have helped improve fuel economy which is down from 9.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle to 8.6L/100km.

As previewed by the Australian-designed Trailblazer Premier concept from this year’s Bangkok motor show, the new model features a completely redesigned front fascia making for a sharper and more aggressive look compared with the softer styling of the outgoing Colorado 7.

Inside it gains the same changes as the Colorado pick-up which includes a redesigned dashboard with higher quality materials, a new centre console and a seven- or eight-inch colour touchscreen – depending on the variant – with the latest version of Holden’s MyLink infotainment system and connectivity to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Cargo volume ranges from 235 litres with all three rows in place, up to 1830 litres with the second and third rows folded away.

Standard gear in the base LT includes 17-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel mounted controls, digital radio, USB input, six-speaker audio, air-conditioning with four rear vents, cruise control, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights, remote window operation via the keyfob and front foglights.

Safety gear in the LT includes seven airbags, auto on/off headlights, ESC, traction control, hill-start assist, roll over mitigation, trailer sway control, hill descent control and a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

The LTZ gains front parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, a side blind spot alert, a rear cross-traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers.

The range topper also adds 18-inch alloys, a seven-speaker audio system, sat-nav, remote vehicle start via the keyfob, leather appointed seat trim with heated front seats, electronic climate control, LED tail-lights, heated and power folding exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, six-way power adjustable driver’s seat and chrome flourishes on the body.

The Thai-built off-roader is available with a choice of six exterior paint options and there is a lengthy interior and exterior accessories options list.

2016 Holden Trailblazer pricing*
LT (a)$47,990
LTZ (a)$52,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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