It's safe to say that many of us had a love-hate relationship with the pre-refresh Chevrolet Trailblazer and Colorado. On one hand, the two vehicles offered top-notch performance and output—despite being relatively older than their competition. On the other, well, they weren't as refined and their interiors left much to be desired.
Chevrolet certainly had its work cut out for it if it wanted to catch up in terms of that last bit. Would the updated models impress enough to warrant considering them over next-generation offerings from other carmakers? We head to Cebu for the vehicles' launch and a day of driving with Chevrolet Philippines to find out.
After a quick boat ride from Mactan, we arrive at a port in Danao to the sight of a fleet of Colorados and Traiblazers, waiting for us to hop in. Organizers truly went the extra mile to make certain that each media outlet would have its sweet time with the cars by limiting driver changes to one per vehicle. And looking at the units, we are grateful.
Changes to the vehicles' front-end—which we've already discussed—are apparent from several feet away. But the real kicker is when we finally sit inside: The cabin is softer, smoother and much more refined. And we're not just talking about its looks; the center console's MyLink touchscreen, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, paired seamlessly with my Samsung Galaxy S7 unit. It was literally just a three-step process, making for one of the easiest infotainment systems we've connected to.
While we would love to listen to music and read texts through the MyLink System all day, we have more important matters to attend to. We set off for our destination, an adventure park and purpose-built off-roading course designed by Chevrolet. The route is bumpy, twisty and less than ideal, which is perfect to feel whether or not the cars' updated NVH cancellation is all the company makes it out to be.
The verdict? A much quieter drive for both models. While the competition has also improved in this aspect, we can't deny that Chevrolet has done a stand-up job addressing cabin comfort.
We were able to try the top-of-the-line 2.8-liter 4x4 variants of both the Colorado and the Trailblazer. Chevrolet claims that the powerplants have received an upgrade to allow for better performance, less emissions and improved efficiency. And while overtaking sluggish tricycles and conquering steep inclines make for an exemplary display of its 197hp and 500Nm, we'll need more time with the vehicles before coming to conclusions.
Upon arriving at our destination, we settle in for a brief lunch before having a quick go at the off-road test course behind the wheel of the new Colorado. The track is composed of rough dirt roads, a pair of near-40-degree inclines, and a brief dip in a man-made body of water. Simple, right? Well, not exactly.
I haven't had much success behind the wheel at off-roading events, finding myself stuck and needing assistance on more than one occasion. Would my streak of bad luck in the rough finally come to an end with the Colorado? Unfortunately, no. I find myself stranded well before reaching the track's halfway point, waiting for a tractor to come to my aid. It is more a testament to my lack of skill than the Chevy's off-road prowess, but oh well. Maybe I'll make up for it some other time, because it's time to head back.
Attempting to beat the worsening weather, the boat ride back to Mactan is rougher than sitting on the bed of a speeding pickup on EDSA, bouncing up and down with every passing wave. Our spines will pay for it in the morning, but right then and there we can't help laugh at how fun and ridiculous our situation is. It's proof that comfort and quietness isn't everything, and that a big factor in SUV/pickup ownership is the smile it puts on your face.
The Trailblazer and Colorado may have changed, and while a few strokes of refinement here and there make it that much more worth the money, they've always been capable vehicles.