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2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer - Replacement

Dear Car Talk, I need your expertise. I have a 2002 Chevy Trailblazer LTZ and thoroughly enjoy it. The problem is that things are starting to fall apart (somewhat like me) and costing small fortunes. I have been looking at the SUV’s on the market and nothing compares to my Chevy. So, I’m writing you to ask if you can recommend a comparable SUV that will have similar attributes. I’m 60 years old and because I keep vehicles forever I need something that will last until I progress to the old folks home.
I really enjoy your column and I am looking forward to your advice.
A “Chevy Legend” truck owner.

How about the new Blazer?

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If you have a three-row EXT, and need three rows, how does the Chevy Suburban or Tahoe compare for your needs. There are also three-row crossovers that may fit the bill like the Traverse. If you want another pair of choices, what about the Toyota 4Runner in a two-row SUV, or the new Explorer in a 3-row Crossover/SUV? What attributes are you having trouble duplicating? It may help us find you some better options.

Why do you need a Blazer? Towing? If not, then many 3-row SUVs would work. What about a Highlander or a Pilot?

4 runner would be the most similar to the trailblazer, I think. Didn’t the trailblazer and doesn’t the 4Runner have body on frame construction and rear wheel drive?

When we shopped for an suv for my wife a few years ago, I could’ve sworn some of the 4runners had 3rd row seating if that’s something OP wants. My wife liked the highlander better. I liked the 4Runner - seemed more “trucky”. Of course, we got the highlander!

I also love the Trailblazer and have had three of them including my most recent- an '08 LT. They stopped making them in '09 in the US. The '08 I found had only ~80k miles on it and is in excellent shape. There’s a rumor they are bringing it back to the US but I have no idea what will be changed (I would prefer nothing myself). You can see what I did, I scoured the market to find the best one I could locate that was closest to the last year…If you want new, you could look at the Pilot, something I was looking at back when I bought my first TB.

Take a look at the GMC Acadia. It’s downsized from a year ago, making it smaller than the Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse it shares heritage with. If you want larger, look at the Traverse or Enclave. I prefer the Enclave, but you might like the Chevy better.

The upcoming Ford Bronco might be something similar Body-on-frame, RWD/4WD, Not huge, but too small.

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Same with the new Explorer, if 3 rows needed.

Unfortunately, those models are all unibody as far as I know whereas the TB was body on frame. The TB had reasonable power and good towing rating. The penalty was gas mileage…

The new Bronco and Explorer will be BOF/RWD (or AWD). They are 2020 models. I’m sure about the RWD, not sure about the BOF.

History shows that Toyota and Honda are the brands most likely to hold up long term and present the fewest expensive problems. Other brands may be catching up. But nowadays even cars with average reliability ratings are much better than they were years ago.

The OP did not say she towed anything. Maybe she will come back and let us know.

OP should consider the Toyota Rav 4. Or if they prefer to stick with Chevy, what about the Chevy Traverse? For something more rugged, the ideas above on the new Ford Bronco or the new Chevy Blazer are worth considering, but hold on to your wallet! I think those vehicles are going to be pricey. And new models tend to come with product start-up glitches built into the driving experience, so might want to avoid those for a couple years for the manufacturer’s to get the glitches out. I’m thinking Traverse (starting at $30 K) or Rav 4 (starting at $26 K). I’m a Toyota owner and if I had to make the decision myself it would provably by the Rav 4.

Hi G,

My TB (LTZ) is a two row vehicle with 2/AWD/4L/4H capabilities. I use it for all sport related activities, towing and bike rack. We go to the snow in winter and a lake in the summer. The options involved driver and passenger lumbar seat positioning and dual temperature regulations. The squared off back cargo has great visibility with few blind spots. The truck frame and under protection make of road driving less concerning to me.

Most SUV’s that I’ve seen are on a car frame (I think) and are either FWD or AWD. Most standard interiors don’t include dual options and in general the all look squished in the back with multiple blind spots.

The Honda Pilot feels like a mini-van and the Toyota 4Runner it a hard ride. The Traverse is a wee bit too big and the Equinox too small. Ford Explorer is close but in order to get the interior we want it will add $$$$. Maybe I’m just too particular and comparing the old to the new isn’t possible. I’ll just drive this one until the wheels fall off.

Thank to you and the crew, I’m getting good information.

Best

M

My TB (LTZ) is a two row vehicle with 2/AWD/4L/4H capabilities. I use it for all sport related activities, towing and bike rack. We go to the snow in winter and a lake in the summer. The options involved driver and passenger lumbar seat positioning and dual temperature regulations. The squared off back cargo has great visibility with few blind spots. The truck frame and under protection make of road driving less concerning to me.

Most SUV’s that I’ve seen are on a car frame (I think) and are either FWD or AWD. Most standard interiors don’t include dual options and in general the all look squished in the back with multiple blind spots.

The Honda Pilot feels like a mini-van and the Toyota 4Runner it a hard ride. The Traverse is a wee bit too big and the Equinox too small. Ford Explorer is close but in order to get the interior we want it will add $$$$. Maybe I’m just too particular and comparing the old to the new isn’t possible. I’ll just drive this one until the wheels fall off.

Thank to you and the crew, I’m getting good information.

Best

M

My TB (LTZ) is a two row vehicle with 2/AWD/4L/4H capabilities. I use it for all sport related activities, towing and bike rack. We go to the snow in winter and a lake in the summer. The options involved driver and passenger lumbar seat positioning and dual temperature regulations. The squared off back cargo has great visibility with few blind spots. The truck frame and under protection make of road driving less concerning to me.

Most SUV’s that I’ve seen are on a car frame (I think) and are either FWD or AWD. Most standard interiors don’t include dual options and in general the all look squished in the back with multiple blind spots.

The Honda Pilot feels like a mini-van and the Toyota 4Runner it a hard ride. The Traverse is a wee bit too big and the Equinox too small. Ford Explorer is close but in order to get the interior we want it will add $$$$. Maybe I’m just too particular and comparing the old to the new isn’t possible. I’ll just drive this one until the wheels fall off.

Thank to you and the crew, I’m getting good information.

Best

M

I don’t see why a Highlander AWD would not work. Not sure what the towing capacity is and what your needs are but sounds like you are not towing much. Friends have one with the towing package and tow a decent size camper with it.

The 2018 and newer Acadia is a bit smaller than the Traverse. Test drive one and see if you like it. The Acadia tows. Up to 4000 # with the 3.6L engine. If that’s enough, maybe it would work for you.