The TrailBlazer won the North American Truck of the Year award in 2002. The 4.2L I6 Atlas LL8 won Ward's Best Engine from 2002-2004 with innovative features such as DOHC, Variable Valve Timing (VVT) on the exhaust camshaft, and GM's Patented "Lost-Foam" casting process.
The TrailBlazer is based on a truck platform, with all models having four-wheel drive as an option with both automatic engagement and the more traditional "4 High" and "4 Low" gearings. Its main disadvantage is its increased width (as compared to a Jeep Wrangler) and lack of suspension travel, causing it to high side when it encounters high-camber-variance terrain or large rocks. Additionally, it lacks either locking hubs or a limited slip differential. Instead a G80 locking rear differential is available as an option on all models except for the SS which has a G86 LSD standard.
The TrailBlazer was facelifted for 2006. A new front fascia and interior trim were included with the refresh, but only apply to the upper-level LT models. The LS trim still has the 02-05 front and rear fascias. The SS gets trim-specific front and rear fascias plus colormatched side skirts.
The TrailBlazer comes with a 291hp (217kW) 277lb·ft (376N·m) all-aluminum 4.2 L "Atlas" LL8 inline-six engine standard and an optional 302hp (225kW) 330lb·ft (447N·m) aluminum small-block 5.3 L V8 with Active Fuel Management. The inline-six makes the TrailBlazer the most powerful six-cylinder SUV in its class. The Active Fuel Management system on the V8 engine shuts off 4 of the 8 cylinders during highway travel and idle to save fuel. The 6-cylinder versions of the TrailBlazer get up to 20miles per US gallon (12L/100km; 24mpg-imp) highway, according to refreshed United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
- 2002-present LL8 4.2 L I6
- 2003-2004 LM4 5.3 L V8
- 2005-present LH6 5.3 L V8
- 2006-present LS2 6.0 L V8
One unique element of the TrailBlazer line was the availability of a 3-row, 7-passenger EXT version. This vehicle was 16 in (406 mm) longer and had a higher roofline to allow easier access to the third row of seats. This roof was disguised by standard roof racks.