Chevy TrailBlazer is a stalwart of the SUV market, ranking as second-best selling SUV in the United States in 2006 and one of the top 20 vehicle sellers for the entire industry. A value-driven combination of standard comfort, convenience and safety features, along with proven capability, contribute to its success.
The TrailBlazer lineup is headed by the performance-bred TrailBlazer SS, a sell-out star that offers sports car performance combined with the functionality expected of a utility vehicle. TrailBlazer SS has unique exterior styling and specific interior appointments, including prominent 20-inch flangeless wheels. Power comes from the LS2 6.0L V-8, which produces 390 horsepower (290 kW) and 395 lb.-ft. of torque (535 Nm) – enabling the powerful SUV to reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. A performance suspension with lowered ride height also is part of the package. The TrailBlazer SS is available in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.
TrailBlazer SS is a serious performer and a capable midsize SUV. Riding on a one-inch-lower suspension, the TrailBlazer SS’s suspension was tuned and tested on the racetrack to deliver responsive, balanced handling. The lower ride height reduces the vehicle’s center of gravity, improving overall handling. This was accomplished with new springs at all four corners. The springs are up to 25 percent stiffer, which complements the lowered ride height with a firmer feel and reduced body roll. Corner control and body roll control also are improved with front stabilizer bars that are approximately 10 percent larger in diameter than other TrailBlazer models. StabiliTrak electronic stability control is standard.
The four-wheel disc braking system of the TrailBlazer SS is enhanced with larger, 12.8-inch front disc brake rotors and iron twin-piston calipers. The heavy-duty iron calipers are stiff and retain their shape under high pressure/high heat braking conditions, providing a more linear feel and reduced pedal travel in high-energy stops. The brake pads use the same high-performance linings as the Corvette for strong fade resistance. ABS is standard. There also is an accessory front brake cooling package available for optimized track performance. With TrailBlazer SS’s brakes, tires and revised ABS algorithm, 62 mph to 0 (100 kph to 0) stopping distance is approximately 135 feet.
Under the hood of the TrailBlazer SS is the LS2 6.0L V-8. It is rated at 390 horsepower (290 kW) and 395 lb.-ft. of torque (535 Nm). The LS2 6.0L is based on the small-block V-8 architecture and delivers satisfying down-low torque for strong off-the-line performance. Torque is inherent to the engine’s cam-in-block design, large 4.00-inch-diameter (101.6 mm) bores and 3.62-inch (92 mm) stroke. Response is crisp and immediate, thanks to the electronically controlled throttle.
Unique to the TrailBlazer SS’s version of the engine is a composite intake manifold used in other midsize trucks and adapted to the LS2 to help produce balanced torque and horsepower within packaging parameters. The engine also has the TrailBlazer’s trademark pass-through oil pan. The pan’s cast-in passage allows the front differential’s half-shaft to run through the pan instead of under it. This helps keep the engine mounted lower in the chassis for better balance and a lower center of gravity. There also is a stylish SS-specific engine cover, radiator support cover and coordinated air induction box.
Backing the 6.0L V-8 is a new Hydra-Matic 4L70 electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. It debuts in the TrailBlazer SS and was developed to handle the high horsepower and high torque loads of performance-oriented light-duty vehicles. Special high-strength and heat-treated materials are used in the 4L70 to ensure it delivers smooth, dependable shifting. A performance-oriented all-wheel drive system is available, giving the TrailBlazer SS impressive on-road grip and enhanced “launch” feel. The always-engaged system uses a Torsen center differential to split torque between the front and rear wheels. It is a torque-bias system that detects low traction at one axle and directs more torque to the other when needed – it is capable of changing the normal 67-percent rear-axle torque bias up to 45/55 (front/rear) or 25/75 (front/rear), depending on the road conditions.
As with all Chevy models wearing the SS badge, the promise of the TrailBlazer SS’s performance specifications is reinforced by authentic design cues. For this midsize SUV, that means a tight, sleek look and a monochromatic color scheme, with sporty front and rear fascias, a racing-style black mesh grille and large, bright exhaust outlet exiting beneath the rear bumper. The TrailBlazer SS also has been stripped of body side moldings, the roof rack and other cladding that adds visual weight to the vehicle. The rear pillars are blacked-out, blending with the tinted glass for a more integrated, wraparound style. The mirrors, door handles and grille cross bar are painted body color, too. Six exterior colors are available: Black, Olympic White, Red Jewel Tintcoat, Imperial Blue, Silverstone and Black Granite.
Inside, a driver-oriented “cockpit” features a SS-signature instrument cluster, including a prominent tachometer. The silver-face tachometer has black numerals, a signature SS item. Other SS-specific cues include embroidered seat backs and the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Performance-style front bucket seats are standard and feature firm “wing” bolsters to help keep the driver and front passenger planted during spirited driving. Cloth seating is standard and leather-appointed seating is available. And because SS means style as much as performance, the TrailBlazer SS’s refinements include a French seam stitching on the console armrests, aluminum sill plates and numerous chrome accents. A T-shape shifter with a satin nickel accent also distinguishes the vehicle’s cabin.
TrailBlazer SS also delivers the capability expected of an SUV: The towing capacity is up to 6,800 pounds (3,084 kg) with the two-wheel drive model and up to 6,600 pounds (2,994 kg) with the available all-wheel drive model.