December holidays mean family gatherings, food galore and many bums in seats who need a lift. The Chevrolet Trailblazer had to prove its worth as the chosen holiday car.
At first I thought a bulky seven-seater was just what I needed for the yearly trip down from Joburg to Cape Town.
That was before I thought about how much driving I would do in three weeks and the size of the garage at my parents’ house.
But I needed a car big enough to cart around my family and friends, huge boot space for Christmas lunch and décor, and most importantly, something very comfortable with cooling powers for Cape Town’s summer heat.
With the news I’d be moving back down to Cape Town, the beastly boot space came in quite handy. I had the third row of seats folded flat and half of the second row tumbled forward. My load? Two boxes of rims, a complete gearbox, as much clothing as possible and two small children.
The trip itself was easy: the 2.8-litre diesel engine proved to be the right choice. I opted for the 4×2 LTZ model and, with 1 400km to drive, the cruise control was a godsend.
Travelling with children for the first time, the frequent emergency toilet stops really messed up all thoughts of “cruising” though. Despite that, a full tank of diesel took us about 800km. My average consumption was about 10.1 litres per 100km.
What irked me no end though was that the air con vents could not be closed. Dual air conditioning would have made this the perfect car.
When I eventually pulled up at home and my father looked at the car’s size and height next to the low-hanging door of our garage, he said: “My child, where are you going with this big car?”
It meant parking our cars bumper to bumper on our lengthy driveway and having to learn new tricks to close the garage door.
I pretty much knew I’d be the designated driver for most of the holiday, but I had not prepared for the fights that would break out when all the seats were occupied and there were still cousins left behind at family occasions.
It even doubled up as a bakkie when we needed to collect the massive spit-braai stand for our New Year party.
I certainly didn’t expect the crazy attention it would get. Being the Toyota Fortuner’s ultimate rival, potential buyers stopped me regularly to ask about the car almost everywhere I went.
Another one of my gripes, to my brother’s constant amusement (as I am vertically challenged), is the Trailblazer does not have park sensors in the front bumper. The car is huge and it meant me getting in and out to see how much more space I had to park.
My favourite things are the side steps and the grab handles inside the car because getting in or out would have been an even greater task without them.
The Trailblazer was family during this past month. My heart broke when it was returned this week.
Despite the painful knock my wallet took every time I had to fill the tank, the diesel model took me a long way. It wasn’t the car’s fault, I had so much driving to do.
The entry-level model starts at R364 000, but I’d rather go for the top-of-the-range 3.6-litre LTZ 4X4 auto (R479 500) – even if I don’t have a seven-member family.
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