Peter Carney, 24, is an analytical chemist. But he’s a large analytical chemist, and his taste in cars runs large, too. Thus the ’92 GMC Typhoon in his garage, parked next to a ’98 Jeep Cherokee with six-inch lift kit, next to a ’42 Plymouth coupe, next to an ’07 TrailBlazer SS with all-wheel drive. He shelled out $20,000 for the SS, purchasing it from a Chevy dealer six months ago, where it had just come off lease. “It had 60,000 miles on it,” Carney recalls. “The original owner hadn’t taken great care of it, so I spent a lot of hours touching up, scrubbing, and polishing.”
The SS, which is Carney’s daily driver, now looks showroom new, and the vast panels of inky-black paint are very un-GM-like in their smoothness and lack of orange peel. “One thing that really sold me,” says Carney, “was that it came with a transferable 100,000-mile, five-year warranty. If I blow it up, I’m still covered.”
We’ve been fond of the SS since sampling a prototype with Corvette engineering genius John Heinricy, who was largely responsible for this truck’s lovely ride-and-handling trade-off. Back in 2005, 395 reliable small-block horsepower was, for as little as $33,600, remarkable. As was the SS’s 5.5-second blast to 60 mph.
On the track, it’s amusing to disable the stability control and power-slide through corners, Goodyear RS-As yowling and the V-8 thundering like something out of Rick Hendrick’s NASCAR stable.
Despite the SS’s thicker front rotors and its Corvette pads, the pedal is a little gooey, and it’s wise to let the brakes cool every third lap or so—this is, after all, a 4842-pound truck. By today’s standards, the transmission is slow to kick down, but the steering remains light and agreeable without being squirmy. Carney says he averages 19 mpg on the highway, 13 mpg in town.
“I use the SS to tow my other cars to shows,” he adds. “People come up and say, ‘Wow, your tow vehicle is as cool as your Typhoon.’ ”
QUOTES FROM THE PAST: The Trailblazer SS
“Any time you can purchase 395 horses for $33,600 (the base two-wheel-drive “LS” model) or for $39,200 (the loaded “LT” with all-wheel drive), you’ve got a shot at witnessing a Clydesdale bag the Triple Crown.” — John Phillips, October 2005
“Excuse this, but the SS hauls ass, too. A 5.5-second blast to 60 mph is still quick enough to make it feel much less like a truck and more like a sports car.” — Larry Webster, March 2006.
The SS is heavy and fast, making it easy to transform its Goodyear RS-As—along with the front brake pads—into dust. And the platform is susceptible to twisting, which will, in about the same time that Sarah Palin spent as governor, trigger all manner of interior rattles and squeaks.
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