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If there’s one thing the TrailBlazer wasn’t crying out for it was more power. A new interior, maybe… but not more power!
To my mind, the 300-hp, 5300 Vortec V-8 offers about as much performance as the TrailBlazer really needs for the daily school run, but that didn’t stop Chevrolet from slotting the Corvette’s LS2 V-8 into its engine bay and beefing up the looks and suspension to match. The resulting vehicle is called the TrailBlazer SS, although confusingly, it’s sold as a package on LS or LT short-wheelbase models with 2WD or 4WD, rather than being a model it its own right. Go figure.
So what, exactly, does the SS package get you for an additional five grand or so? Well, obviously there’s the 6.0-liter, pushrod Corvette V-8, restricted to 391 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque in the SS due to space constraints in the TrailBlazer’s engine bay and the fact there’s only room for a single tailpipe. Even so, Chevrolet has specially tuned the exhaust system (complete with single storm-drain-sized tailpipe) to make all the right noises under acceleration while keeping its distinctive V-8 rumble impressively mute at highway speeds.
Sadly, that fine engine is saddled with an awful transmission — an ancient four-speed automatic that offers no manual shifting and the electronic sophistication of a lightbulb. Kickdown is reasonably quick but it’s anything but smooth and because it has been programmed to be as economical as possible, it’s far to eager to jump back into top gear again making it impossible to enjoy the SS on any kind of a challenging road.
That said, when it comes to straight-line butt-haulin’, the TrailBlazer is tough to beat. For maximum performance you simply stomp on the gas pedal and wait for the horizon to come to you — 0-60 mph takes around than six seconds in the RWD model we drove and the quarter-mile is dispatched somewhere in the 14s — not bad for a 4552-lb SUV.