Chevrolet announced the 2006 TrailBlazer SS, the first SUV to wear the legendary SS badge and offering sports car performance combined with the functionality expected of a utility vehicle.
The TrailBlazer SS has unique exterior styling and specific interior appointments, including prominent 20-inch flangeless wheels. Power is delivered by the Corvette-derived LS2 6.0L V-8, enabling a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. A performance suspension with lowered ride height also is part of the package and was tuned by GM’s Performance Division at several racetracks, including Germany ’s legendary Nürburgring – a challenging road course that features more than 12.5 miles of turns and drastic elevation changes. The TrailBlazer SS is available in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations.
Chevrolet introduced the TrailBlazer SS at the 2005 New York Auto Show, along with production versions of the Malibu SS and Malibu Maxx SS. These three new vehicles join the SSR, Silverado SS and Cobalt SS Supercharged, as well as the ’06 Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS, in bringing Chevy’s lineup of exciting, attainable-performance vehicles to eight – the most SS models ever offered at one time.
“The TrailBlazer SS definitely emphasizes the sport in an SUV,” said Brent Dewar, General Motors North America vice president of marketing and advertising. “It represents the product diversity under the SS badge, bringing attainable performance to anyone who wants it.”
As the first truck developed by GM’s Performance Division, TrailBlazer SS’s performance look and feel is complemented by strong SUV functionality. The towing capacity is up to 6,700 pounds with the two-wheel drive model and up to 6,500 pounds with the available all-wheel drive model. Cargo volume is 41 cubic feet (1161 liters) behind the rear seat and 80 cubic feet (2265 liters) with the rear seat folded.
Additional specifics include:
“The production TrailBlazer SS improves on the concept by delivering driving satisfaction through strong acceleration, superior handling and enhanced braking capability, along with driver-focused enhancements,” he said.
Cinched down on a 1-inch-lower suspension, the TrailBlazer SS’s suspension was tuned and tested on the racetrack to deliver responsive, balanced handling. The lower ride height reduces the vehicle’s center of gravity, improving overall handling. This was accomplished with new springs at all four corners. The springs are up to 25 percent stiffer, which complements the lowered ride height with a firmer feel and reduced body roll. Corner control and body roll control also are improved with front stabilizer bars that are approximately 10 percent larger in diameter than other TrailBlazer models. StabiliTrak electronic stability control is standard.
The four-wheel disc braking system of the TrailBlazer SS is enhanced with larger, 12.8-inch front disc brake rotors and new, iron twin-piston calipers. The heavy-duty iron calipers are stiff and retain their shape under high pressure/high heat braking conditions, providing a more linear feel and reduced pedal travel in high-energy stops. The brake pads use the same high-performance linings as the Corvette for strong fade resistance. ABS is standard. There also is an accessory front brake cooling package available for optimized track performance.
The braking system also is bolstered by a larger master cylinder, which provides more stopping power and gives the driver a higher, firmer pedal feel – a feeling also enhanced by a new 3.6 brake pedal ratio. It also has a high-flow master cylinder, moving fluid more efficiently to optimize performance of the StabiliTrak electronic stability control. With TrailBlazer SS’s new brakes, tires and revised ABS algorithm, 62 mph to 0 (100 kph to 0) stopping distance is approximately 135 feet.
Under the hood of the TrailBlazer SS is the LS2 6.0L V-8, similar to versions used in the Corvette and SSR. It is based on the Gen IV small-block V-8 architecture and delivers satisfying down-low torque for strong off-the-line performance. Torque is inherent to the engine’s cam-in-block design, large 4.00-inch-diameter (101.6 mm) bores and 3.62-inch (92 mm) stroke. Response of the 391-horse LS2 is crisp and immediate, thanks to the electronically controlled throttle.
Unique to the TrailBlazer SS’s version of the engine is a composite intake manifold used in other mid-size trucks and was adapted to the LS2 to help produce balanced torque and horsepower within packaging parameters. The engine also has the TrailBlazer’s trademark pass-through oil pan. The pan’s cast-in passage allows the front differential’s half-shaft to run through the pan instead of under it. This helps keep the engine mounted lower in the chassis for better balance and a lower center of gravity. There also is a stylish SS-specific engine cover, radiator support cover and coordinated air induction box.
Backing the 6.0L V-8 is a new Hydra-Matic 4L70-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. It debuts in the TrailBlazer SS and was developed to handle the high horsepower and high torque loads of performance-oriented light-duty vehicles. Special high-strength and heat-treated materials are used throughout the 4L70-E to ensure it delivers smooth, dependable shifting.
A performance-oriented all-wheel drive system is available, giving the TrailBlazer SS impressive on-road grip and enhanced “launch” feel. The always-engaged system uses a Torsen center differential to split torque between the front and rear wheels. It is a torque-bias system that detects low traction at one axle and directs more torque to the other when needed – it is capable of changing the normal 67-percent rear-axle torque bias up to 45/55 (front/rear) or 25/75 (front/rear), depending on the road conditions.
SS style and comfort
As with all Chevy models wearing the SS badge, the promise of the TrailBlazer SS’s performance specifications is reinforced by authentic design cues. For this midsize SUV, that means a tight, sleek look and a monochromatic color scheme.
Already sitting an inch closer to the pavement, the TrailBlazer SS achieves a track-ready stance with sporty front and rear fascias, a racing-style black mesh grille and large, bright exhaust outlet exiting beneath the rear bumper. The TrailBlazer SS also has been stripped of body side moldings, the roof rack and other cladding that adds visual weight to the vehicle.
The rear pillars are blacked-out, blending with the tinted glass for a more integrated, wraparound style. The mirrors, door handles and grille cross bar are all painted body color, too. Four exterior colors are available: black, white, silver and blue.
Inside, a driver-oriented “cockpit” features a SS-signature instrument cluster, including a prominent tachometer. The silver-face tachometer has black numerals, a signature SS item. Other SS-specific cues include embroidered seat backs and the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Performance-style front bucket seats are standard and feature firm “wing” bolsters to help keep the driver and front passenger planted during spirited driving. Cloth seating is standard and leather-appointed seating is available. And because SS means style as much as performance, the TrailBlazer SS’s refinements include a French seam stitching on the console armrests, aluminum sill plates and numerous chrome accents. A new T-shape shifter with a brushed aluminum accent also distinguishes the vehicle’s cabin.
The 2006 TrailBlazer SS is scheduled to go into production this fall at GM’s Moraine, Ohio assembly plant.
Text and photos: Chevrolet