The four-door TrailBlazer package gives Chevy's midsize SUV a more rugged feel without sacrificing comfort. Majestic red paint, new for 2000, and silver body and wheel accents, as well as tinted windows, make for a stylish exterior. Inside, I was pampered with two-tone leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, not to mention eight-way power seats with power lumbar adjustment.
After a surprisingly toasty trip into work one morning, I discovered our Blazer had the optional heated driver seat, and that it's easy to accidentally switch on. Dashboard controls are easy to reach and use. If they weren't, the radio controls on the steering wheel would save the day. An overhead console provided not only a place for my sunglasses, but also contained map-reading lights, an electronic compass, and outside-temperature readout. These features are probably geared for off-road adventures, but it wasn't long before I wondered how I ever drove to the grocery store without knowing exactly how hot or cold it was outside.
The automatic-transmission shift knob is floor mounted, which doesn't leave a whole lot of leg room in the front seat, and it was difficult for me to find a comfortable foot position while driving. The backseat looked more Spartan than the front, but my friends assured me the accommodations back there were comfortable.
The TrailBlazer is not all beauty and no brawn. The comfortable ride is powered by a Vortec 4300 V6 engine, which is said to offer greater durability than the previous version while maintaining its 190 hp at 4,400 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm.
With little experience driving larger vehicles, I thought it would be difficult to maneuver the TrailBlazer. However, I soon discovered that it handles like a car. But it offers a slightly bumpier ride than the family sedan, which makes it a fun-to-drive SUV suitable for everyday use. Carlike handling is due, in part, to a short-long-arm front suspension and a rear suspension comprised of two-stage, multileaf springs. A longer set of leaves flattens out to let shorter, stiffer leaves give extra support when the load increases.
The Autotrac system automatically engages four-wheel drive for maximum traction and provides 100% rear-wheel drive until road conditions require a change. When extra traction is needed, an electronic control module activates an electronic motor that transfers torque between front and rear wheels in less than a quarter of a second.
Base price for the TrailBlazer is $31,570, but optional equipment such as a six-disc CD changer and heated driver seat, brought our test vehicle up to $33,115. For one week, I felt like I owned the road, and isn't that enough reason to like a vehicle?