Full 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer carries over with minimal changes, most notably adding satellite radio and side curtain airbags to its standard equipment list.
The Chevrolet TrailBlazer represents what one could consider to be the old guard of midsize SUVs. In the midst of a consumer shift to carlike crossover SUVs, the TrailBlazer maintains the traditional SUV trait of truck-based architecture. While this provides advantages in terms of off-road performance and towing capacity, it limits the vehicle's appeal to those mostly interested in responsive handling and a well-packaged and versatile interior.
The TrailBlazer was last redesigned in 2002, and its age is showing. Though performance and ride quality remain strong points, the Chevy's cabin design is dated and its handling, always circumspect, doesn't inspire much confidence. And unlike most rivals with optional third-row seating, the 2008 TrailBlazer makes do with just two rows and a passenger capacity limited to five.
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer could still be a fair choice for consumers wanting a vehicle for frequent towing or off-road use. Some might also find appeal in the high-performance TrailBlazer SS. But overall, we think there are plenty of better choices for a mainstream midsize SUV. Models like the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner handily top it in terms of cabin refinement and handling composure while also offering the option of third-row seating. This is also true for new crossovers like the Toyota Highlander and Saturn Outlook. Even if you are set on a TrailBlazer, the vehicle's evergreen status means you could pick up a certified-used model for additional savings.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is available in two distinct trim levels -- LT and SS -- with several variations to consider. The base 1LT package comes well-equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone manual air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, OnStar, satellite radio and a CD player. The 2LT upgrade adds automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning and audio controls, leather seating, a power driver seat, heated outside mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Stepping up to the TrailBlazer 3LT gets you 18-inch wheels, driver seat memory, a power passenger seat, heated front seats and a Bose sound system. Depending on trim variation, major options include power-adjustable pedals, a Sun and Sound Package with a sunroof and a premium audio system, rear-seat DVD entertainment and a navigation system.
The basic high-performance TrailBlazer SS (1SS) package is equipped similarly to the 1LT in terms of comfort and convenience features, but also incorporates upgraded V8 power, a sport-tuned suspension with quicker steering, high-performance brakes, 20-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential and special interior and exterior trim. The top-of-the-line 3SS package is even more fully equipped, much like the 3LT package.
Powertrains and Performance
Chevy's TrailBlazer comes standard with a 4.2-liter inline-6 that generates 285 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque. A 5.3-liter V8 is optional, featuring 300 hp and 321 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are backed by a four-speed automatic transmission and a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drivelines.
The TrailBlazer SS boasts a 6.0-liter V8 cranking out 390 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, mated to a heavy-duty four-speed automatic. For the SS, one may choose standard 2WD or an available full-time AWD system that maximizes street performance instead of off-road ability. Either way, the SS is seriously quick and can hit 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds. Maximum towing capacity varies from 5,900 pounds on six-cylinder models to 6,800 pounds with either of the two V8s.
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer includes standard antilock disc brakes, stability control, OnStar communications and side curtain airbags. Government frontal impact testing garnered three stars out of five for the driver and four stars for the front passenger, while side-impact crash testing resulted in a perfect five stars for the protection of both front and rear occupants. In frontal offset crash testing by the IIHS, the TrailBlazer received a "Marginal" score (the second-lowest ranking on a four-point scale).
Interior Design and Special Features
The TrailBlazer's cabin is rather bland and constructed with some subpar materials, but the layout is straightforward and it's reasonably comfortable for up to five adults. For its higher price tag, there's nothing exceptional about the SS model's interior aside from a silver-faced tach, monogrammed "sport" seats and a few pieces of bright trim. Cargo capacity is generous, however, with nearly 44 cubic feet of luggage space that increases to 80 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
The 2008 Chevy TrailBlazer's standard suspension has both good and bad qualities. With tuning on the soft side, it offers an exceptionally comfortable ride around town and on the highway but loses composure quickly when pressed hard through corners or over bumpy terrain. The SS is a different story, delivering a firmer but still comfortable ride at normal road speeds. When pushed through corners and twisty roads, however, its body motions are extremely well controlled, with much more precise steering feel and very little lean.