2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 26, 2009

Families can do much better with any of the more modern crossover SUV designs—including Chevy’s own Traverse—but the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is still a good vehicle for towing purposes.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the TrailBlazer and included their own impressions along with those of other experts to provide a comprehensive report on the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer. A wide range of critical voices and review sources are included with this review.

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer hasn't seen a full redesign for many years, to the point that, from the outside, it now almost looks like a retro-styled vehicle from the SUV glory days of the early-to-mid 1990s. Rest assured, the TrailBlazer has undergone a number of minor updates through the years. Built on a frame typical of pickups and older SUVs, the 2009 TrailBlazer is good for towing and hauling. The mid-size SUV shares its platform with the Buick Rainier and GMC Envoy.

Available in LS, LT, and SS versions, the two base-model 2009 Chevy TrailBlazers are powered by a 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine producing 291 horsepower; an optional 5.3-liter V-8 is available. A four-speed automatic transmission comes standard and can be specified with either rear- or four-wheel drive. For passenger-hauling needs, the 4.2-liter engine is adequate, but not nearly as perky off the line as the V-8, which is recommended if you plan to tow. Low fuel economy is typical for these truck-based SUVs. 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 musclecarlike SS model is powered by a 6.0-liter, 395-horsepower V-8 engine. Other functional and cosmetic upgrades include 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 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS is available with rear- or all-wheel drive.

Review continues below

The TrailBlazer doesn't handle especially securely or confidently, and the ride is soft and a bit bouncy on rough surfaces. With doses of road and engine noise, an outdated instrument-panel design, and subpar materials, the TrailBlazer’s interior isn't particularly attractive. The 2009 TrailBlazer’s interior does feature seating for five, though there's no third-row seat.

New options on the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer are few but include Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Returning options for 2009 include a power sunroof, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a 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.

Standard on all 2009 TrailBlazers is GM's StabiliTrak stability control, as well as anti-lock brakes and side curtain airbags good for front and rear occupants. The 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer doesn't perform especially well in either crash-test program. In the federal government's frontal test, the TrailBlazer earns 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 earns Acceptable ratings for frontal protection, Marginal for side protection (unusual for an SUV), and Poor for rear impact.

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2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Styling

The appearance of the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer will not incite a buying frenzy.

The styling of the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer leaves most reviewers unimpressed.

The design of the TrailBlazer hasn’t been updated since its introduction in 2002. While Kelley Blue Book praises the "Chevrolet TrailBlazer's rugged yet refined pose," which "seems as comfortable off-road as in the valet parking lot," Edmunds simply refers to the vehicle’s "aging design," while Cars.com notes that the TrailBlazer's "headlights, grille and other elements share similarities with Chevrolet's larger Tahoe and Suburban."

ConsumerGuide reports that the interior "suffers [from] generic fabrics and unappealing hard, molded plastics that don't match the look or feel of most competitors' décor," while Car and Driver considers the TrailBlazer’s cabin "one of the cheapest-looking interiors in the automotive world." Edmunds continues on the "aging design" theme: "another major drawback is the TrailBlazer's cabin design...it looked out of date soon after this midsize SUV's debut." The interior “places it at the bottom of the class,” says Car and Driver.

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2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Performance

The 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has decent acceleration and towing ability; just don’t expect much beyond that.

The performance of the 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer is as disappointing and behind the times as its appearance, although it does have satisfying acceleration.

Initial reports give adequate opinions of the 2009 TrailBlazer’s engine. ConsumerGuide says the "six-cylinder TrailBlazers have good power for most situations." This engine is "rated at 285 horsepower and 276 pounds-feet of torque," states Cars.com, which also reports an "optional 5.3-liter V-8, operating with Active Fuel Management, produces 300 hp and 321 pounds-feet of torque."

Kelley Blue Book says of the smaller inline-six: "this amazing engine has the power of a small V8, delivering ample passing power at all speeds." Edmunds reports "most buyers will find the [Chevrolet Trailblazer's] standard inline-6 engine adequate," but points out "it's definitely lacking in low-end torque." Both sources recommend the larger 5.3-liter V-8 for towing chores, although Edmunds suggests "it feels like a bit too much engine for the softly tuned chassis."

ConsumerGuide reports that all 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazers "use a 4-speed automatic transmission and are available with rear-wheel drive...LT offers 4-wheel drive that can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes a low-range gear for off-roading."

Powered by a 6.0-liter, 395-horsepower V-8 engine, the TrailBlazer SS offers musclecarlike performance. Other functional and cosmetic upgrades include 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 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Edmunds says the SS is capable of “hauling itself to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds—about as fast as a Dodge Charger R/T. Better yet, the SS model's modified chassis is fully capable of handling all that power.”

The 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer is a thirsty vehicle. Cars.com points out that "although it's called mid-size, this is still a big SUV that has an affinity for the gas pump." ConsumerGuide reports EPA estimates at 14/20 mpg for the inline-six, and 13/19 mpg for the smaller V-8.

"Loose, imprecise feel doesn't inspire sporty driving...passengers won't like the ride quality...Structural rigidity is poor, so the chassis is upset by road imperfections, and the steering requires constant corrections," says Car and Driver of the TrailBlazer’s substandard handling. Edmunds echoes this impression, remarking, "unresponsive suspension and imprecise steering don't inspire confidence on back road detours or during quick transitions on the expressway," but acknowledges that "its soft tuning results in a soft, comfortable ride around town and on the highway." Cars.com also agrees on this point: "On smooth surfaces, the four-wheel-drive [2009 Chevrolet] TrailBlazer's ride is comparable to a car's. Its handling is a bit on the slow side, but the driver benefits from a satisfying steering feel."

Kelley Blue Book heaps praise upon the handling characteristics of the TrailBlazer: "The TrailBlazer's steering wheel has a solid, firm feel to it, devoid of the floating disconnect inherent in so many power steering systems." They add that "the firm brake pedal brings the TrailBlazer to a quick stop every time, and the brakes show little fade after repeated use."

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2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Comfort & Quality

While lacking the quality feel found in competitive models, the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is reasonably comfortable inside.

The use of low-quality materials degrades the fact that the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has plentiful interior room.

The materials inside the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer leave something to be desired. According to Cars.com, the "cabin lacks a quality feel...the interior...place(s) it at the bottom of its class." Edmunds adds that the "quality of the materials and construction has always been suspect." Car and Driver says it has “one of the cheapest-looking interiors in the automotive world.”

"There's no way to get a third-row seat, and maximum passenger capacity is down to five," says Edmunds about the 2009 TrailBlazer’s limited seating. Cars.com reports that "two-row seating is standard...the seats are somewhat firm." The seating arrangement offers "good headroom and legroom, even for taller folks," according to ConsumerGuide, which nonetheless points out that "the seats are too soft for best support, but not uncomfortable...the [second row] split bench seat is comfortable, fairly supportive, and wide enough for three adults with a little squeezing."

There’s little to complain about regarding cargo space, says TheCarConnection.com of the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer. Cars.com reports that "interior space is ample...the backseat folds for additional storage. With the rear seat down, maximum cargo volume measures 80 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide describes the interior as "generous," noting that the "60/40 split 2nd-row seat converts easily, helped by automatic-folding headrests," and "cabin has a good array of pockets and compartments for small items." However, "the tailgate's opening glass sits too high up for easy routine loading/unloading" in the 2009 Chevrolet.

The 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer offers acceptable levels of noise. According to Cars.com, "engine sound [is] barely discernible (except when pushed really hard), but road noise is also virtually absent.” ConsumerGuide notes that "tire noise is pleasingly low, but wind rush rises sharply at highway speeds."

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2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Safety

The 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer falls behind competing SUVs and crossovers in crash safety.

TheCarConnection.com's experts report that in terms of safety, the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer comes up short.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash-test results for the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer are decent but not inspiring. NHTSA awards the TrailBlazer three stars for front impact protection of the driver, four stars for rollover resistance in the four-wheel-drive version (but only three stars on the 2WD) and passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars on only the side impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the TrailBlazer 2009 Chevrolet as "acceptable" on frontal crash tests and "marginal" on side impact crashes.

Cars.com indicates that "side curtain airbags are now standard on all models," and "dual-stage front airbags deploy with varying force depending on crash severity." Car and Driver reports a plethora of safety equipment for the TrailBlazer: "dual front and curtain airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, stability control, ABS, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard across the TrailBlazer lineup." In addition, "OnStar emergency service is standard on all TrailBlazers."

ConsumerGuide remarks that visibility in the Chevrolet 2009 "is good to the front and sides, but the headrests and thick pillars can block over-the-shoulder and aft sightlines." Kelley Blue Book, on the other hand, says the Chevrolet TrailBlazer has "enough glass to give the driver a nearly-uninterrupted view through 360 degrees."

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2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Features

By incorporating Bluetooth phone connectivity and a navigation system as updated options, the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer masks its age when it comes to the features list.

For an SUV this old, the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer’s options list offers some cutting-edge features.

The 2009 base 1LT TrailBlazer "comes standard with two-zone manually adjustable air conditioning; an AM-FM-satellite radio/CD player; four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; power windows, locks, and mirrors; remote keyless entry; cruise control; front and rear intermittent wipers; a rear defroster; floor mats; fog lights; automatic-on headlights with daytime running lights; folding rear seats; body-color bumpers and moldings; front cloth bucket seats; an eight-way power driver's seat; stability control; tire-pressure monitoring; a trailer preparation package; a transmission-oil cooler; 17-inch wheels; a 4.2-liter inline-six with 285 horsepower; and a four-speed automatic transmission," says Cars.com. XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, and Bluetooth phone connectivity are also standard on the 2009 TrailBlazer.

According to Cars.com, the 2009 Chevrolet "options include a backseat entertainment system with a DVD player, power-adjustable pedals and leather seating surfaces." Edmunds says, "The LS comes decently equipped, while the LT allows access to some higher-level features."

The more expensive LS and SS TrailBlazer trim levels offer extras such as dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat air conditioning and heat, a rear cargo mat, an overhead console, a trip computer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated power side-view mirrors, leather seats, and a top-of-the-line Bose sound system. Kelley Blue Book mentions that "limited-slip rear differential, touch-screen navigation radio and power-adjustable foot pedals" are also available on the 2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

Car and Driver, nonetheless, dismisses this gear and declares that "this SUV is showing its age" with regard to features.

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May 19, 2015
2009 Chevrolet TrailBlazer 2WD 4-Door LT w/3LT

Fun SUV for me to drive!! It is the perfect size, seats adjust well and the use of all the mirrors are perfect!

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I just love driving around in my 2009 Chevy Trailblazer! I have the sun roof and all the windows, sitting up a little higher than cars I feel like I have a lot of visualblity. It handles well, and not really... + More »
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Styling 6.0
Performance 6.0
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