If smoky burnouts are your thing, the 2WD SS is certainly capable of them. But, it took us a while to find the discreet traction control disable button. We finally found a button on the shifter that would usually engage Overdrive or a "tow-haul" mode, and when we pressed it, we saw the display flash "traction control off." Very sneaky. The wife will never know.
Underneath, it's standard-issue...
Underneath, it's standard-issue GM engine compartment. Why can't we get the Corvette's stylish and functional tubular manifold?
As good of an all-around package as the TrailBlazer SS is, it's not perfect. Cost-cutting is apparent in a few areas. The hood is still suspended by a prop rod. And rather than employing the C6 or GTO's handsome tubular intake manifold, it instead gets a big piece of Tupperware slapped on top of the engine. Out of curiosity, we peeled back the cover, and underneath was a typical nondescript GM corporate manifold with a plethora of sensors and wires. In this day, when five-speed automatic transmissions are becoming standard issue even in lowly compacts, the four-speed is looking a little dated. An extra cog might help the mileage a little, as well. And it seems Chevy couldn't resist the temptation of non-functional styling gingerbread. Only one of the headlamp vents is actually functional. And although they look substantial, the chrome-accented brake ducts are just molded into the front fascia and flex along with the rest of bumper cover when any force is applied to them.
So, no, you're not going to find the same level of fit and finish as you might on a Range Rover or a BMW X5. But, at about half the price, we're inclined to forgive the Bow Tie boys for a little Motown chintziness for putting the LS2 under the hood. In another obvious penny-pinching move, the front buckets are no different from standard-issue TrailBlazer seats that we can tell, save for the SS logo stitched into the backrest, which means lateral support is minimal. That being the case, the grippy cloth is preferable for enthusiastic driving over the slick leather. Here's where GM's performance division could learn a lesson from DaimlerChrysler's SRT and its beefy bolstered buckets.
Overall, the TrailBlazer SS is one helluva deal. We give GM a big hand for producing a very compelling package that combines the practicality expected from midsize SUVs, with the performance that enthusiasts crave and all too often have to sacrifice when they become a responsible family man. And for around $31,000 starting, it won't arouse spousal suspicion over any issues of self-indulgence. If this is part of the Chevy's American Revolution, we say "Viva la Revolucion!"
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS LS 2WD
Base Price/As Tested: $29,885/$31,205
Engine: 6.0L LS2 V-8
Transmission: 4L70-E four-speed automatic
Horsepower: 395 at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm
EPA Fuel Economy: 15 city/19 highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 12.4 mpg
The brake ducts look beefy...
The brake ducts look beefy but are just molded into the front bumper cover.
The gauge cluster features...
The gauge cluster features a white tachometer to emphasize the SS' performance image.
Only one of the headlamp vents...
Only one of the headlamp vents is functional, on the passenger side.
The traction control defeat...
The traction control defeat button is cleverly hidden on the shift lever.
The interesting part about...
The interesting part about the SS package is that it can be ordered on either the LS or LT trim levels, with 2WD or 4WD. Our tester was a 2WD LS with cloth interior. Just the essentials, just the way we like it.