For 2005, the Chevrolet Trailblazer has a few changes. The most interesting is the addition of Displacement on Demand technology on the EXT’s optional 5.3-litre V8. This system seamlessly deactivates half of the cylinders under low engine load, such as when highway cruising, for extra fuel economy. Since the heavier EXT benefits immensely from the V8’s power, any fuel savings are appreciated.

Other changes include available Gen 6 OnStar with hands-free capabilities; available curtain air bags with rollover protection sensing system; occupant sensing system for front passenger; LATCH child seat anchorage system; new badging; MP3 capability on the LS; upgrades to the optional navigation touch screen; new seat designs; additional interior chrome accents on LS and LT; and three new exterior colours, plus four new interior colours and combinations.

The base engine is a 4.2-litre inline six-cylinder, carried over from 2004; the extended-wheelbase EXT can be optioned with the 300 horsepower V8. All models use a 4-speed automatic transmission, and both are available in LS or LT trim. Both the Trailblazer and Trailblazer EXT can be optioned with Autotrac automatic four-wheel-drive, which makes them very capable for off-road manoeuvres.

LS models include air conditioning, fog lights, heated power mirrors, 16-inch aluminum wheels (17-inch on EXT), variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper, cruise control, floor mats, power mirrors, CD player with six speakers, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, automatic power locks with keyless entry, and traction control on two-wheel-drive models.

The LT adds overhead console with garage door opener, leather-wrapped wheel, power rear vent windows on the EXT, eight-way power driver’s seat, and theft alarm. An upgraded stereo, DVD entertainment system and navigation system can be added to the LT.

The rugged Trailblazer is a body-on-frame vehicle, sharing its platform with the Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X. It has a fairly tight turning radius for a truck and a smooth-running six that’s powerful enough for the regular-wheelbase version, although handling isn’t as sharp as with many competitors. The Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango are both excellent alternatives, although they’re a bit pricier; from the imports, the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner offer better build quality and interiors for under $700 more.

The Trailblazer is made in Moraine, Ohio and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Trailblazer EXT is made in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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