2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 6, 2008

You should only consider the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer if you frequently tow; even then, most truck-based alternatives handle much better.

As they prepared this exhaustive review of the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, the experts at TheCarConnection.com included a wide range of critical voices and review sources. TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the TrailBlazer and include their own impressions where useful.

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.

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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.

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2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Styling

There may be reasons to buy a 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, but looks aren't among them.

Most reviewers are less than impressed with the styling of the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

On sale since 2002, the TrailBlazer’s basic design hasn’t been updated much since that long-ago debut. Cars.com notes that the TrailBlazer's "headlights, grille and other elements share similarities with Chevrolet's larger Tahoe and Suburban," while Edmunds simply refers to the vehicle’s "aging design." Kelley Blue Book, on the other hand, praises the "2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer's rugged yet refined pose," which "seems as comfortable off-road as in the valet parking lot."

Car and Driver considers the TrailBlazer’s cabin to be "one of the cheapest-looking interiors in the automotive world." 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' decor." Edmunds continues on the "aging design" theme: "another major drawback is the [2008 Chevrolet] 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,” Car and Driver believes.

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2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Performance

As long as one doesn't expect too much, the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer will probably be up to most low-stress types of driving.

TheCarConnection.com finds the 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer's performance as disappointing as its appearance.

This 2008 Chevrolet's engine seems adequate enough; ConsumerGuide explains "six-cylinder TrailBlazers have good power for most situations." This engine is "rated at 285 horsepower and 276 pounds-feet of torque," reports Cars.com, which also mentions an "optional 5.3-liter V-8, operating with Active Fuel Management, produces 300 hp and 321 pounds-feet of torque."

The smaller inline-six is standard, according to Kelley Blue Book, which states "this amazing engine has the power of a small V8, delivering ample passing power at all speeds." Edmunds reports "most buyers will find the [2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer's] standard inline-6 engine adequate," but points out "it's definitely lacking in low-end torque." Both of these 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."

According to Cars.com, both engines "team with a four-speed automatic transmission." ConsumerGuide reports that all of these 2008 Chevrolet models "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."

A third version is almost an entirely different beast. The TrailBlazer 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. 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.”

A large vehicle, the 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer is, as one might suppose, thirsty--and one would be correct. Cars.com points out "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.

Car and Driver finds that the TrailBlazer’s handling is substandard: "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." Edmunds confirms this impression: "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 [2008 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, on the other hand, heaps praise upon this Chevrolet 2008 for its handling: "the TrailBlazer's steering wheel has a solid, firm feel to it, devoid of the floating disconnect inherent in so many power steering systems," adding 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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2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is above average in terms of comfort, but the quality feel found in competitors isn’t here.

The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has plentiful interior room, but the dismal look of some interior plastics causes reviewers to take strong notice.

Oddly, this 2008 Chevrolet offers limited seating for its size; Edmunds notices that "there's no way to get a third-row seat, and maximum passenger capacity is down to five." 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."

TheCarConnection.com notes little to complain about cargo space in the 2008 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 2008 Chevrolet.

This Chevrolet 2008 model's interior materials leave something to be desired, according to Cars.com, which says that "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.”

Noise levels aboard the Chevrolet 2008 TrailBlazer are acceptable; "engine sound [is] barely discernible (except when pushed really hard), but road noise is also virtually absent," according to Cars.com. ConsumerGuide notes that "tire noise is pleasingly low, but wind rush rises sharply at highway speeds."

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2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Safety

Many sport-utes and crossovers have better crash safety than the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer also comes up short in terms of safety, from what TheCarConnection.com's experts are seeing.

Crash-test results for the Chevrolet 2008 TrailBlazer are decent but not inspiring, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarding it 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 only on the side impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the TrailBlazer 2008 Chevrolet as "acceptable" on frontal crash tests and "marginal" on side impact crashes.

Car and Driver reports a plethora of safety equipment for this 2008 Chevrolet: "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." Cars.com indicates that "side curtain airbags are now standard on all models," and that "dual-stage front airbags deploy with varying force depending on crash severity."

ConsumerGuide reports that visibility in the Chevrolet 2008 "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 2008 model has "enough glass to give the driver a nearly-uninterrupted view through 360 degrees."

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2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

Features

The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has masked its age with a feature face-lift that includes Bluetooth and a navigation system.

The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer has some cutting-edge features on its options list, which is surprising for a vehicle of its age.

There are several different trims offered for the 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer, each with its own level of featured equipment. The 1LT is the basic, and according to Cars.com, this 2008 Chevrolet "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"--as well as XM Satellite Radio and OnStar.

Car and Driver, nonetheless, dismisses this gear: "this SUV is showing its age."

More expensive Chevrolet 2008 TrailBlazer trims (LS and SS versions) 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 also mentions that "limited-slip rear differential, touch-screen navigation radio and power-adjustable foot pedals" are available options on the Chevrolet 2008.

For a few dollars more, 2008 Chevrolet "options include a backseat entertainment system with a DVD player, power-adjustable pedals and leather seating surfaces," according to Cars.com. Edmunds avers, "The LS comes decently equipped, while the LT allows access to some higher-level features."

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October 3, 2015
2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer 4WD 4-Door LT w/3LT

I HOPE YOU READ THIS "2008 Trialblazer" WARNING

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Purchase this beautiful trailblazer in NY 2yrs ago and I have around 4yrs to go to pay this fine vehicle off $10K Before I get started me and my wife moved to Durham NC. Sense then I have replace breaks... + More »
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Performance 6
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