- Lower step-up for easier entry than full-size SUVs
- Relatively smooth ride
- Mushy, vague handling
- Noisy interior
- Retro 1990s design
- Not as safe as newer crossovers or truck-based rivals
You should only consider the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer if you frequently tow; even then, most truck-based alternatives handle much better.
The TrailBlazer, Chevrolet's mid-size SUV, shares its platform with the GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, and Saab 9-7X. The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is built on a frame--a layout typical of pickups and older-design SUVs built for hauling and towing--and hasn't seen a full redesign in many years now.
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is available in LS, LT, and high-performance SS versions. LS and LT models are powered by a 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine offering 291 horsepower, with a 5.3-liter V-8 optional. Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission and can be specified with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The 4.2-liter engine is adequate for passenger-hauling needs, but it's not nearly as perky off the line as the V-8, which is recommended if you plan to tow. Fuel economy, typical for these truck-based SUVs, is low. The V-8 has Active Fuel Management to help improve fuel efficiency when coasting or cruising, so it's actually the same with either engine and rear-wheel drive, at 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway.
The SS offers musclecar-like performance from a 6.0-liter, 395-horsepower V-8 engine and other functional and cosmetic upgrades, including a powerful transmission, a lowered suspension, 20-inch wheels, and heavy-duty brakes with larger 12.8-inch front discs. Like the other models, the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Inside, the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has seating for five, though there's no third-row seating option. The ride is soft and a bit bouncy on rough surfaces, and the TrailBlazer doesn't handle especially securely or confidently. The interior isn't particularly hushed, with doses of road and engine noise, and the instrument-panel design and materials used look subpar and outdated.
Major options on the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer include a power sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Bose premium speaker system, and an AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer. Also on the options list: adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, leather seating surfaces with eight-way-power driver and passenger seats, and either factory- or dealer-installed running boards.
GM's StabiliTrak stability control is standard on all TrailBlazers, as are anti-lock brakes and side curtain airbags good for front and rear occupants. The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer didn't perform especially well in either crash-test program. In the federal government's frontal test, the TrailBlazer earned just three stars--the lowest score typically awarded--for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection. In the IIHS battery of tests, the TrailBlazer earned Acceptable ratings for frontal protection, Marginal for side protection (unusual for an SUV), and Poor for rear impact.