The destination: Paindane Beach, Inhambane, Mozambique, a place so rugged that even mountain goats tread carefully. For years the Trailblazer has been trying to make a name for itself and it can certainly challenge the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi’s Pajero. Its ability to tame the vast barren brown land that saw many an SUV get stuck was rather assuring as we approached our destination.
But truthfully, the challenge had just begun, because while Mozambique’s single-lane roads are renowned for being less than savoury, our destination meant the Trailblazer would have to conquer a few soft beach dunes if we were to enjoy the white sandy beaches and crystal-blue water.
Dressed in its bow tie and armed with a 2.8-litre diesel powertrain plus four-wheel-drive, the car rummaged up and down the loose slopes like a seasoned veteran, devouring any rock or dusty plain flung its way. Acquitting itself as a rugged off-roader with its go-anywhere attitude, the Trailblazer still managed to maintain a debonair character when faced with the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
While there is no denying the SUV is best suited for an Indiana Jones adventure, it can be used as a daily commuter. The automatic gearbox is smooth and decisive with its changes and the high ride position makes it easy to navigate. However, its sheer size can make parking a tad difficult; luckily there are rear park sensors to help with the task.
Off the line, the Trailblazer is no slouch and attacks the road with vigour - a firm stomp of the accelerator gives you the surge you need while the car also offers a surprisingly accurate handling and steering feel.
Blessed with an abundance of space, we were sure to make use of the cavernous boot and carrying the extra weight didn’t blunt the performance of the Duramax engine, which delivers 132kW with 470Nm of torque.
Spending a substantial amount of time on the open road, the car averaged 8.9 litres/100km with the air conditioning on full tilt.
Being in its company for quite some time, a few bugbears started to appear. Most noticeable was the mini USB. It’s something not that many people carry freely and the infotainment system is starting to show signs of ageing.
These are certainly personal cons and truth be told the Trailblazer took on the massive 2 500km journey with gusto. Packed with safety features and cruise control (which came in handy) the Trailblazer will appeal to any explorer at heart who wants to shy away from the mainstream Fortuner, but still want something with a renowned badge attached to its front-grille.