With addition of 5.3-liter, 325-horsepower V8 extended cab (EXT), eight Chevrolet Trailblazer models are on road in 2005. And as largest and most powerful Blazer available, new EXT has plenty to offer.
It's comfortable and provides a confident drive. It offers vast cargo space, has an attractive two-tone interior, a well-designed console and boasts of plenty of impressive option packages.
But sometimes subtle qualities or subtle deficiencies are more impressive or problematic than a vehicle's overt characteristics.
So it is with new Blazer. While recently showing car to several friends, one sat in second row of seats. Surprisingly, his head easily hit roof. My friend is 6-foot-3, and while that's tall, he's not a giant by any stretch.
"I've got a Scion and there's plenty of rear seat headroom," my friend commented.
The quick analysis made a good point. As largest and most powerful Blazer available, shouldn't a 6-foot-3 person sit comfortably in middle of car's three rows?
Conversely, an SUV hardly seems like a vehicle for a remarkable sound system. But Bose premium sound system available in Blazer's Sun, Sound and Entertainment Package is superior. The combination AM/FM stereo, six-disc changer, XM satellite radio and eight speakers are arguably finest music package I've experienced in any test car in past two years.
Beyond a curious space limitation and a wondrous sound system options, Blazer offers an odd mixture. It's a well-designed SUV with plenty of space for family and cargo. It has adequate steering and handling, and it offers a quiet ride considering its status as a large SUV with 17-inch tires.
Yet, Blazer falls short in other key areas.
The vehicle's braking system seems uneven - fine in some circumstances, soft in other scenarios with far-too-long response time. The Blazer maneuvers well in traffic and its turning radius is surprisingly tight and efficient. But again, for each of vehicle's strengths, there's a weakness. The Blazer's fuel rating of 14 mpg (city) and 19 (hwy) is hardly impressive.