Home : Vehicle Reviews : General Motors (GM) : 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer 4X4

2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer 4X4

Review by Dr. David A. Zatz

Review Notes: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
Personality Minivan that can tow a serious load. Bests Explorer V-8 in every way we can find.
Unusual features 275 horsepower straight six
Quirks GM cruise, carlike parking brake and shifter
Above Average In: Comfort, power, braking, most controls
Needs Work In: Gas mileage [though better than Explorer], minor details
 

2002 Chevy Trailblazer 4x4

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is a brand new vehicle, fitting between the old Blazer compact SUV and the massive Tahoe – pretty much in the range the Dodge Durango had staked out. As befits a new truck, a new straight-six engine – once the mainstay of pickups and SUVs, as well as cars – lies under the hood. This is no ordinary six – it generates 275 horsepower, more than many V-8s.

The TrailBlazer, with its high horsepower and torque, body-on-frame design, and strong towing capacity, is clearly a truck, at least on paper. However, the experience of driving the TrailBlazer is more like the Venture than the Blazer. Bumps are felt but are well cushioned, sound insulation is very good, and the straight six’s sound does not provide any evidence of the stump- pulling power within. The well appointed interior includes a cup holder for each passenger (the rear holders ratchet down to fit any size cup). Throw in a sliding door, and you could sell it as a minivan – albeit one with a much better tow rating and much worse gas mileage than usual.

Speaking of gas mileage, the TrailBlazer gets 15 city, 21 highway with the only available engine and transmission. That is quite poor by minivan standards, but very high for an SUV – handily beating the less powerful Ford Explorer V-8, for example.

The instrument panel is typical GM Truck, with clear oil, voltage, and engine temperature gauges, and a large tachometer and speedometer. The subtle backlighting is clear in all types of light. An optional trip computer provides all sorts of engine data (including estimated oil life) and allows the driver to customize various aspects of the truck’s behavior.

Most controls are clear and easy to find and use, with the usual exception of the GM cruise control stalk – still poorly designed and now given arcane symbols instead of words. The four wheel drive control is a rotary dial, clearly marked and easy to locate. There is an automatic setting which puts in four wheel drive when slippage is detected, as well as full-time high and low gears (which are not recommended for everyday use). Wiper and washers use a similar control, as do the headlights. When the key is inserted, a green LED lights up near the headlight switch to make it easier to find at night.

One oddity is the center-mounted emergency brake and gearshift, still very unusual in trucks and, for that matter, minivans. They were no doubt placed there to make it easier to make a manual-transmission version for export sales, but the position is still disconcerting and less convenient than the traditional foot-brake and column-shift.

The dual-zone climate control is easy to figure out and use, even with gloves on, but the vent fan is surprisingly loud. The stereo, in our case a GM CD player, has useful features and is easy and convenient to use. Tuning knobs help to keep the driver’s attention on the road.

The interior is very well lit, with two lights above each door – a dome light and an individually controlled light, activated by pressing the light in. The cargo area gets its own light, as well. Headlights and backup lights go on automatically when the keyless entry is used, presumably to help people find their way in, and the front doors have red lights at their bottom.

There is only one door with a map pocket – the driver’s – but all three front cupholders and the base of the center console are lined with rubber to avoid rattles. The console includes a coin area, again rubber-lined, that is too far back for the driver to reach or see comfortably.

Headroom is very good throughout the truck, but rear passenger legroom is not as expansive as it could be in order to preserve a large cargo area. The rear seats easily flip forward, aided by rotating headrests. A split seat means you can flip one seat forward while someone sits in the other. Unfortunately, the front seats use a seat-belt-in-seat system, which makes them hard to reach and makes them stay at a single height.

The rear hatch is convenient to open, and snaps itself shut nicely. Several well-designed hatches make it easy to carry small objects and not have them crash about the cargo area – avoiding the problem we once had getting beer and small bits of glass out of a competitor’s carpet. A larger depression in the middle, covered by a strong removable panel, is convenient for holding four bags of groceries steady.

Acceleration is strong at all speeds, though the soft transmission tends to soften the feeling of power. This is not a sports car – the power is mainly for towing, as with most trucks – but getting onto the freeway is easy, and acceleration feels effortless. The TrailBlazer can easily beat the Ford Explorer, even with its optional V-8 engine.

Handling is good for a truck, on par with or better than its direct competitors, thanks partly to a hydroformed frame that is stiffer than its predecessors. The Chevrolet SSR sports car will use the same frame.

Overall, the TrailBlazer is an impressive vehicle. To us, it clearly beats the Ford Explorer in pretty much every metric except having an optional third row of seats. We do recommend that potential buyers, especially if they are thinking of going off-road, consider looking at a Grand Cherokee V-8 as well – and that those who do not need it for towing seriously consider the equally comfortable, more spacious, and more economical Chevrolet Venture instead.

We have to hand it to GM. Not everyone could have assembled such a clear victory over the sales-leading Ford Explorer – especially with a cool retro feature like the straight six. Nice job, guys.

 

Specifications

Vortec 4200 (I6)

Bore and Stroke

3.66 x 4.01 / 93 x 102 mm

Displacement

256 cu-in / 4.2L

Compression Ratio

10:1.1

Firing Order

1-5-3-6-2-4

Horsepower @ rpm

270 bhp @ 6,000 rpm (201 kW)

Torque @ rpm

275 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm (373 Nm)

Block/Head

A356-T6 lost foam

Material

Cast aluminum

Ignition System

Coil-on-plug, dual platinum electronics

Fuel Delivery

Sequential fuel injection, electronic throttle control

Recommended Fuel

Unleaded regular

Valve Train

Four valves/cylinder, dual overhead cams, variable cam phasing – exhaust cam

Maximum Engine Speed

6,300 rpm

Application

Standard

Assembly Location

Flint, MI

Fuel Ecomony (estimated)

16 mpg city/21 mpg highway

Four-Speed Automatic (4L60-E)

Manufacturer

Hydra-matic

1st Gear

3.059

2nd Gear

1.625

3rd Gear

1.000

4th Gear

0.696

Reverse

2.294

Final Drive Ratio

3.73:1 (standard);

4.10:1 (trailer towing option)

Type

Four-speed, rear-wheel-drive, electronically controlled automatic overdrive w/torque converter clutch

Application

Standard

Vehicle Description

Front engine, two- and four-wheel drive, four-door midsize utility

Assembly Plant

Moraine, Ohio

Dimensions

Exterior

Length

191.6 in/4,871 mm

Width

74.7 in/1,894 mm

Wheelbase

113.0 in/2,869 mm

Height

71.9 in/1,826.4 mm

Approach Angle

29º

Departure Angle

23º

Breakover Angle

18º

Ground Clearance

8 in

Ground to Top of Rear Load Floor

32.1 in/816.6 mm

Front Track Width

63.1 in/1,603 mm

Rear Track Width

62.1 in/1,577 mm

Fuel Tank Capacity

18.7 gal/71.5L

Interior

Legroom (front/rear)

44.6/37.1 in-1,133/942 mm

Headroom (front/rear)

40.2/39.6 in-1,021/1,006 mm

Shoulder Room (front/rear)

58.5/58.5 in-1,485/1,485 mm

Hip Room (front/rear)

55.5/58.1 in-1,410/1,476 mm

Seating Capacity

5

Interior Volume

83.3 cu-ft

Cargo Volume, rear seat up*/folded

39.8/80.1 cu-ft

* Measured at top of seatback

 

Weights and Ratings

GVWR

2WD — 5,550 lb/2,517 kg

 

4WD — 5,750 lb/2,608 kg

Base Curb Weight

2WD — 4,442 lb/2,015 kg

 

4WD — 4,628 lb/2,099 kg

Maximum Payload

2WD — 1,107 lb/502 kg

 

4WD — 1,122 lb/509 kg

Maximum Trailering

2WD — 6,400 lb/2,858 kg

Capacity

4WD — 6,200 lb/2,767 kg

Weight Distribution

2WD — 53/47

(% front/rear)

4WD — 55/45

Brakes

Type

Four-wheel vented disc with front aluminum dual piston calipers, standard four-wheel ABS, rear drum-in-hat parking brake

Front Rotor Size

12.0 x 1.14 sq in /305 x 29 mm

Rear Rotor Size

12.8 x 0.78 sq in /325 x 20 mm

Total Swept Area (front/rear)

207 sq in / 217 sq in-1,340 sq cm / 1,397 sq cm

Steering

Type

Rack-and-pinion (hydraulically assisted)

Overall Ratio

20.4:1

Turning Diameter,Curb-to-Curb

36.4 ft/11 m

Suspension

Front Type

Double A-Arm

Rear Type

Five-Link Solid Axle

Shock Size

46 mm / 36 mm

Stabilizer Bar Diameter

46 mm / 24 mm

Wheels

Type

Six-lug nut, cast aluminum

Size

16-inch standard, 17-inch optional

Tires

Type

Size

Standard: P245/70R16,

 

Optional: P245/65R17

 

 

Standard and Available Equipment

Standard and Available Equipment

LS

LT

LTZ

Air conditioning

S

S

S

Air bag

Driver and front passenger, dual stage

S

S

S

Dual side, front seating positions

S

S

S

Brakes, four-wheel anti-lock, four-wheel disc

S

S

S

Cargo area retractable cover

O

S

S

Carpeted front and rear floor mats

O

S

S

Center high-mounted stop lamp, neon

S

S

S

Consoles

Overhead storage for eyeglasses, garage door opener

O

S

S

Floor storage between front seats including cupholders

S

S

S

Content theft alarm, includes beeping horn and flashing lights

S

S

S

Convenience net, rear compartment area

N/A

S

S

Convenience packages

Door locks, programmable automatic

S

S

S

Power locks and windows

S

S

S

Remote keyless entry, two transmitters and panic alarm

O

S

S

Tilt-wheel

S

S

S

Cruise control

O

S

S

Door guard beams, side

S

S

S

Driver Information Center, including message center, trip computer, fluid levels,

door ajar and more

N/A

O

S

Engine

Vortec 4200 Inline six-cylinder engine

S

S

S

Fog lamps, front

N/A

S

S

Headlamps, automatic, halogen composite

S

S

S

HomeLink transmitter, universal garage door opener

O

S

S

HVAC, dual-zone heat, air conditioning

Manual

S

S

N/A

Automatic climate control

N/A

O

S

Rear controls

N/A

O

S

Rear defogger

O

S

S

Instrumentation, including tachometer and trip odometer

S

S

S

Lighting, perimeter, theater dimming, reading lamps, puddle lamps, illuminated entry

S

S

S

Locking rear differential

O

O

O

Luggage carrier, roof-mounted

S

S

S

Mirrors, inside

Light-sensitive inside rearview (incl. outside temperature display and compass)

O

S

N/A

Light-sensitive inside rearview (incl. compass)

N/A

O

S

Mirrors, outside

RH/LH power, heated rearview

O

S

N/A

RH/LH power, heated, light-sensitive rearview with turn signal

N/A

O

S

OnStar, GPS and cellular telephone communications system with 1st year Safety and Security service

O

S

S

PASSLock® theft-deterrent system

S

S

S

Rear-door child safety locks

S

S

S

Running boards

N/A

O

O

Seats, fabric

Custom Fabric

S

N/A

N/A

Premium cloth

N/A

S

N/A

Premium leather seating surfaces

N/A

O

S

Seats, front

Manual front buckets, four-way manual adjustable headrest, manual recliner, manual lumbar

S

N/A

N/A

Reclining buckets with driver, front passenger power lumbar support, four-way adjustable head restraint, eight-way power driver’s side with power recliner, center floor console

N/A

S

S

Power passenger, eight-way

N/A

O

S

Heated driver and front passenger

N/A

N/A

O

Memory driver seat, two-way and outside rearview mirrors

N/A

N/A

S

Seats, rear split-folding

S

S

S

Sound systems

AM/FM stereo with CD player, seek-scan, auto-tone control, speed-sensitive volume, electronic tuning, six speakers, TheftLock®

S

S

N/A

AM/FM stereo with CD player and remote search cassette, seek-scan, auto-tone control, electronic tuning, speed-sensitive volume, six speakers, TheftLock

O

O

S

AM/FM stereo, six-disc CD changer, seek-scan, electronic tuning, speed-sensitive volume

N/A

O

O

Bose premium sound system

 

O

O

Rear seat radio controls and headphone jacks

N/A

O

S

Steering wheel

Base

S

N/A

N/A

Deluxe leather-wrapped

O

S

N/A

Deluxe leather-wrapped with radio and HVAC controls

N/A

O

S

Sunroof, sliding electric

O

O

O

Suspension

Luxury ride, incl. front and rear urethane jounce bumpers, front and rear stabilizer bar and 46 mm high-pressure gas Bilstein® shocks

S

S

S

Tow Hooks (4WD only)

S

S

S

Traction control (requires two-wheel drive)

N/A

O

O

Trailering equipment, heavy-duty incl. seven-wire harness, hitch platform, heavy-duty flasher

S

S

S

Transfer case, Autotrac two-speed active with automatic 4WD and neutral modes (requires four-wheel drive)

S

S

S

Travelnote digital recorder, located in overhead console

O

S

S

Wheels,

16×7 polished aluminum (custom)

S

N/A

N/A

16×7 polished aluminum (sport)

N/A

S

N/A

17×7 aluminum sport

N/A

N/A

S

Windows, deep-tinted glass (side)

S

S

S

Windows, deep-tinted glass (rear)

O

S

S

Windshield wipers, intermittent front and rear, rear washer

S

S

S

Windshield wipers, rain-sensing

N/A

N/A

S

 

S = Standard, O = Option, N/A = Not Available

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