Chevrolet’s big leap
THE STARTER - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - September 19, 2016 - 12:00am

Two weekends ago, the local motoring media took part in an International Event hosted by Chevrolet. Officers of Chevrolet Asia and the Philippines headed a well-oiled group consisting of professional racecar drivers and engineers to assist  the media in testing the Chevrolet Colorado and Trailblazer.

Our two-day adventure began at the posh Shangrila Mactan Cebu , where all the media outfits from Southeast Asia were gathered for a detailed briefing of what was going to become an action-packed product  test.

At the time of this two-day event, most of the key details were yet to be released in the Philippines.  Additionally, nothing was known except that we would be driving the Colorado and Trailblazer up the coast on Northern Cebu and to the Mountains of Danao, 35km up to Danasan Eco Park.  So it was a unique opportunity for the media in attendance to become immersed in the process of testing these vehicles in the environment that they were designed to perform.

There were some known faces amongst the Chevrolet team, with a number of professional race car drivers from Australia and New Zealand.

Over the course of two days, we had access to a fleet of  Colorado and Trailblazer. This was something new for me, as we were about to partake in a review that would test the limits of their products.  While the units may have strong resemblance to the old models, I was quite surprised on how it has improved. The briefing showed us how the Cololrado and Trailblazer was thoroughly improved  through development programs done Brazil and Australia.

Chevrolet’s local team of organizers brought along so many test vehicles at the media’s disposal for a local coastal ride, mountain trail and off-road experience, with a great deal of Tropical Scenery unique to Southeast Asia.

It was interesting to see the great deal of difference between the vehicles in terms of build and materials. For example, the Trailblazer had so much interior goodies, it would be unfair to say it wouldn’t at least match the high-end SUV interior of the other brands. 

But before everything else, let’s see how it made my day.

Drivability

We left the public roads to the proving ground, a 35km climb to Danasan Eco Park where an offroad course was waiting for us. The roads included some narrow windy roads, in addition to a challenging steep climbs and abrupt descents.

First thing that got me straight away was the genuine feel of the steering wheel. It was light yet with a heavy, responsive feel..much like a crossover.  Both models had similar drivability although it was obvious the Colorado was built for heavy loads, stiff and rigid.  The engine felt very capable, with continuous power all throughout.

That’s because Chevrolet spent a huge deal of time concentrating on improving drivability, greatly decreasing noise and vibration.

Colorado feels at its very limits. Mid-corner bumps were a non-issue, likewise progressive corners at speed.

To ensure we were properly sold on the models’ dynamics, the test team took us out on the off-road course consisting of log trails, a simulated river crossing, inclined gravel roads and a steep incline and descent. All these obstacles both the Trailblazer and the Colorado did with ease.

Safety

The Trailblazer is equipped with an active safety package that includes forward collision alert (flashing red LED warning lights on the instrumentation panel), lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, along with a tire pressure monitoring system. It is also equipped with a rear-view camera for ease in backing up.

The exercise also included a Chevrolet humanitarian program which caught us by surprise. The company had repairs done on a rundown School Building in Danasan Elementary School. The Faculty and the students prepared a short but heartfelt thanksgiving presentation for us, it left the media in awe.

As we left the proving ground to the comforts of our hotel rooms that day,  I summed up the day with two words, Big leap. With this, I guess the stiff competition in the pick-up and mid-size SUV has just become stiffer. More details on both models next week.

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