New Chevrolet TrailBlazer: An Authentic SUV
Nowadays in the U.S. market, vehicle manufacturers pretty much are all committed to producing crossover utility vehicles rather than their predecessor type, the sport utility vehicle. While there are some inside-baseball arguments on what the difference is between a CUV and an SUV, there is general agreement that the CUV has a body structure that is more like a car (unibody) while an SUV is more like a truck (body-on-frame).
A reason for this shift to unibody is not merely because there aren’t a heck of a lot of people who ever need the robust construction of a truck-like vehicle when they’re simply going from A to B and this is generally on nothing more severe than a gravel road (or a typical potholed street in southeastern Michigan), but because the CUV construction generally provides a smoother—a.k.a., “less truck-like”—ride.
However, things are not this way everywhere. Listen to Brad Merkel, GM’s global vehicle line executive for midsize trucks and SUVs: “The growing markets of the world want flexibility. That means power and capability combined with comfort and efficiency.”
He is speaking in the context of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer that debuted yesterday at the Dubai International Motor Show.
It is an SUV.
It is based on a truck platform.
The truck platform in question is the same that is used for the oft-aforementioned Chevrolet Colorado pickup that was developed by GM do Brasil and designed by the GM South America Design Center in São Caetano do Sul, Brazil.
Of the design, Matt Noone, director of design for GM do Brasil, said, “TrailBlazer delivers a great combination of capabilities from negotiating off-road trails to daily city driving, that we wanted to convey visually. There’s an obvious sense of muscle in the design, but at the same time a very sophisticated appearance in line with the world’s premium SUVs. From every angle, TrailBlazer looks agile and athletic, with a refined finish that makes it a vehicle our customer will aspire to own.”
Inside there is the Chevy dual-cockpit design. And it also features three rows of seating, about which Noone said, “The third row in this SUV isn’t an afterthought. It’s an authentic third row where people can fit comfortably for long trips. Combine that with luxurious interior appointments and it is easy to see why TrailBlazer really is an all-purpose vehicle.”
Like the Chevy Colorado, the vehicle will launch in Thailand, and then go around the globe subsequently.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
Once the playground of exotic car makers, the definition of a niche vehicle has expanded to include image vehicles for mainstream OEMs, and specialist models produced on high-volume platforms.
By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)