Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,000 – $22,500*

2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT

2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer interior

2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT

2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer

  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Trailer-towing capability
  • Fuel economy
  • Steering/handling

Lack of curtain side airbags is a drawback in today’s SUV market. Furthermore, making front side airbags optional in 2003, just to lower the base price, seemed ill-advised. Otherwise, GM’s midsize SUVs match most rivals for pace and space. TrailBlazer is the price and sales leader among the GM group, but Envoy ranks as the best overall value. Not only does the Envoy top TrailBlazer in interior decor, but its optional rear load-leveling air suspension delivers needed improvements in ride and handling.


Chevrolet’s all-new midsize sport-utility vehicle shared its design, powertrain, and body-on-frame platform with the GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada. All three debuted for 2002. Each was a four-door wagon with its own styling details inside and out. Each, too, was larger than the model that it replaced.

The wheelbase of the TrailBlazer was 6 inches longer than that of the 1995-vintage Blazer, and its body was 10 inches longer overall. Some 5 inches wider and taller than the Blazer, it was also bigger inside, though seating was limited to five passengers. A longer-wheelbase seven-passenger model with three rows of seats arrived later.

These redesigned General Motors SUVs shared a new 270-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine, linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive models could have available traction control. TrailBlazers could instead have GM’s Autotrac four-wheel-drive system, which could be left engaged on dry pavement and included low-range gearing.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and front side airbags were standard (the driver’s bag covers the head and torso). LTZ models had 17-inch wheels, but other TrailBlazers rode on 16-inchers.

TrailBlazer rivals included the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, and Toyota 4Runner. Chevrolet continued to produce the previous Blazer,repositioned as a budget SUV.

Yearly Updates

2003 Trailblazer
This midsize SUV lost its standard front side airbags for 2003, but gained more six-cylinder power, a V8 option for its largest model, and available DVD video.
TrailBlazer was a four-door wagon offered in five- or seven-passenger form. The regular-length five-passenger version came in LS, LT, and LTZ trim. The longer-wheelbase EXT had three-row, seven-passenger seating, extended rear doors, and a raised rear roofline.
GMC’s Envoy and Envoy XL dressed the same basic design with different styling and available features. So did the Oldsmobile Bravada, which did not offer an extended version.
TrailBlazers came standard with a four-speed automatic transmission and an inline six-cylinder engine. Optional on the EXT was a 290-horsepower V8, borrowed from Chevrolet’s full-size SUVs.
Front side airbags, formerly standard, were now a $350 option. The driver’s airbag covered the head and torso. Curtain side airbags were not available.
A new option for all but LS models was a rear-seat DVD video entertainment system. LTZ and EXT versions came with 17-inch wheels, versus 16s on other models. A new North Face Edition trim-and-features package was designed in concert with the outdoor apparel and equipment maker.
Finally, the EXT added LATCH-system rear child-seat anchors and five-seaters gained a 22-gallon fuel tank (up from 18.7) during the model year.
2004 Trailblazer
Power-adjustable pedals, satellite radio and a navigation system were available for 2004 models. Buick now offered a new Rainier model, on the same platform as the TrailBlazer.
This year, TrailBlazers came in LS and LT trim, with 17-inch wheels standard on the LT EXT and optional for regular-length LT models. Options included rear DVD entertainment, GM’s OnStar system and a sunroof.
2005 Trailblazer
A revised V8 and available head-protecting curtain side airbags mark 2005 changes for Chevrolet’s midsize SUVs. A V8 is optional for the extended EXTs and now has GM’s Displacement on Demand feature. The newly optional curtain side airbags cover the 1st and 2nd seating rows–and replace last year’s available seat-mounted front side airbags.
2006 Trailblazer
A sporty SS version tops 2006 additions to these SUVs. Newly available for five-passenger models, the SS package included a 395-hp V8, sport suspension, and unique trim. It came with 2WD or all-wheel drive without low-range gearing.
2007 Trailblazer
TrailBlazer lost its extended-length, seven-passenger model for 2007.
2008 TrailBlazer
The 2008 Chevrolet TrailBlazer gained curtain side airbags as standard equipment.
2009 TrailBlazer
TrailBlazer lost its 300-hp 5.3-liter V8 but was otherwise unchanged for its final model year. A wireless cell-phone link was newly available.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

In their first season, TrailBlazers came only with a 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine. For 2003, a 290-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8 became available in the extended-length EXT edition. All TrailBlazers use a four-speed automatic transmission and can have rear-drive or GM’s Autotrac four-wheel drive. For 2005, GM revised the V8 with their Displacement on Demand feature, a cylinder deactivation system which saves fuel. For 2006, a sporty SS version includes a 6.0-liter 395-hp V8.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 270-275
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/325
Engine HP 290
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 325
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0
Engine HP 395
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 400
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Regular-length six-cylinder models offer plenty of power for everyday driving, and passing/merging is not a problem. An EXT can tax the six-cylinder when towing heavy trailers, but otherwise, the V8 does not feel substantially stronger than the six-cylinder version.

Fuel economy earns no prizes. Test six-cylinder 4WD regular-length TrailBlazers have averaged 12.9 to 17.9 mpg, depending on driving conditions. A V8 4WD EXT averaged 15.2 to 15.7 mpg. By comparison, test 4WD Ford Explorers have averaged 17.1 mpg with V6 power, and 14.1 to 15.4 mpg with a V8.

Ride quality suffers because this GM design uses a solid rear axle, versus Ford’s independent suspension. Base-suspension TrailBlazers absorb bumps pretty well for SUVs, but ride motions turn sloppy on undulations. They also float and wander at highway speeds.

Envoys and Bravadas offered rear load-leveling air suspension that’s more composed on rough roads than the Chevy’s mandatory steel coil springs. An EXT’s longer wheelbase helps smooth out bumps, but does not erase wallow. These models also tend to “porpoise” through dips and swells.

TrailBlazer suffers lots of body lean in sharp turns, plus vague steering feel. Considerable correction is needed at highway speeds. An air-spring suspension gives Envoy and Bravada flatter cornering and more precise steering.

Still, a relatively tight turning radius make close-quarters maneuvering fairly easy. Stopping power is adequate, though brake-pedal action is numb and mushy, and quick stops trigger marked nosedive and some wander.

Tire noise is pleasingly low, but wind rush can be considerable at highway speeds. There’s roar even around a closed sunroof, too. The six-cylinder engine cruises quietly enough, but sounds gruff when cold and a touch ragged at full throttle. The V8 is also noisy under full throttle.

Instruments/controls are clear and handy. Switchgear works smoothly, but adjusting the low-mounted climate controls forces a long look away from the road.

Interiors suffer from GM’s usual generic fabrics and unappealing molded plastics, which don’t match the look and feel of most competitors’ materials. GM’s optoinal navigation system is a sensible mating of map screen, navigation functions and radio controls, promising relatively easy use.

Head and leg room and good up front, even for taller folks. Seats are too soft for optimal support, but not uncomfortable. Visibility is good to front and sides, though headrests and thick pillars can block over-the-shoulder and aft sightlines–especially on EXTs.

Six-footers have ample second-row head and knee room, plus adequate under-seat foot space, despite an uneven floorboard. The split bench seat is comfortable, fairly supportive, and wide enough for three adults with a little squeezing. An EXT’s second-row seats slide forward and tilt up for entry/exit to the third-row seat, which is roomy enough for two adults and more comfortable than those in most midsize SUVs.

Cargo space is generous in regular TrailBlazers, almost cavernous in EXTs. The 60/40 split rear seat folds easily, helped by automatic folding headrests. However, the EXT’s load floor suffers three separately elevated levels with all seats folded. Third-row seatbacks rest several inches above the floor when folded, denying the convenience of a flat surface.

Cabins have a good array of pockets and compartments for small items. The liftgate’s opening glass is relatively high, making it difficult to use as a loading or unloading portal.


Model Tested: 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 4

Total: 54


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.0 191.8 74.6 71.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
80.1 22.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.6 43.1 37.1
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
129.0 207.8 74.7 75.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
100.2 25.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.6 43.1 37.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: The airbag warning light may no go off due to a faulty seat belt tension sensor in the right front seat belt retractor assembly. (2006-07)
Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may get stuck in third gear and the instrument panel may stop working due to failure of the ignition switch. (1999-03)
Climate control
Description: Climate control and radio presets may get mixed up due to their placement near the driver’s door. Reprogramming the body control computer to prevent changes when vehicle is in gear would fix the problem. (2002)
Engine mounts
Description: Cylinder liners were cracking on4.2L engines and the engine warranty was extended to 7 years/100,000 miles. (2002)
Oil leak
Description: An oil leak at the oil pressure sensor on the V8 engine may cause the low oil light to come on and oil level to become low. (2006-07)
Electrical problem
Description: The fan may run excessively and/or the transmission may shift late, requiring reprogramming of the engine control computer. (2002)
Electrical problem
Description: The DVD monitors in the front seat headrests may quit working because the video feed cable comes loose requiring install
Electrical problem
Description: When using a portable music player (e.g. iPod) there may be noise in the car’s speakers whenever the vehicle’s power adapter is used and a ground loop isolator (from Radio Shack) is required between the device and the power outlet to prevent the noise. (2002-07)
Description: The 4WD range indicator may read incorrectly and the service 4WD light may glow due to faulty 4WD switch on the dash. (2002-03)
Description: A crack in the fuel filler neck allows fuel vapors to escape and triggers a check engine light and the company will warranty repairs up to 10 years or 150,000 miles. (2003-04)

Recall History

Description: Front passenger and driver seat belt retractors may become inoperative, resulting in the occupant being improperly restrained during braking. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The fuel filter fitting may become disengaged, causing a no-start condition and fuel spillage. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The front lower control arm brackets may fracture, causing possible loss of vehicle control. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The instrument panel cluster may not power up when the vehicle is started. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: 4WD vehicles may roll out of “Park” due to the gear not staying engaged. Dealers will update the transfer case control module.
Description: Certain vehicles may have faulty welding on the third-row seat, causing it to come off the floor in the event of a crash. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The transfer case of some vehicles may contain cracks, resulting in a loss of gear range. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Driver visibility may become impaired due to faulty windshield wipes. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The owner’s manual does not adequately explain the child restraint system. Dealers will distribute a supplement to the manual.
Description: Due to an override function, some vehicles’ ignition key can be removed in a position other than park. Dealers will correct this override.
Description: The driver’s side airbag inflator may fracture upon impact and strike occupants and the cushion may not inflate properly. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-03 EXT
Description: Rear side door of vehicles sold or registered in specified states may not latch or unlatch properly, due to corrosion caused by road splash.
Description: Heat and vibration may cause some tail lamps to loosen and eventually become inoperative. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-04 EXT
Description: Vibration and heat may cause taillamp/stoplamp bulb to loosen and flicker, eventually becoming inoperative.
Description: Some left-front brake pipes may be fractured, reducing brake pedal performance. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Moving turn-signal lever up or down in normal way may cause front marker/turn lights and rear turn lights to flash in a manner similar to hazard warning.
Description: Windshield might not be retained in the event of a crash, because during the curing process, the urethane bead may not have adhered to certain areas of the car body.
2005-06 Chevrolet Trailblazer w/aftermarket leather seats
Description: Testing has indicated that the aftermarket leather seat covers can cause the passenger sensing system to malfunction. If the passenger sensing system malfunctions, the front air bag on the passenger side may be disabled when it should be enabled, or enabled when it should be disabled. GM will purchase these vehicles for the full price paid for it (not exceeding the fair market value at the time it was bought), including taxes and fees, if the vehicle is returned to GM’s possession by January 31, 2007. Through January 31, 2007, GM will also pay for the removal of any aftermarket accessories that may have been installed and return them to the customer.

Equipment Lists

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