Road Testing the Bilstein shock upgrade for Trailblazer

September 12, 2015

Ok, it may have taken a while, but I’m finally able to give you a first hand assessment of these new replacement Bilstein shocks for the Trailblazer that I had fitted on a few weeks back.

I waited for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to allow the shocks to settle and secondly, the traffic has been so damn bad I’ve hardly moved enough in the last few weeks.

So with the excuses out of the way, let’s get down to it. First things first, the ride. Popular as these 7-seater, truck-based SUVs are, we all know that their achilles heel is the the ride. The Trailblazer has always delivered the best one of the bunch (until perhaps the new Everest, which is just a tad better) but yeah, there’s always room for improvement and this is where the Bilsteins come in.

But before you cancel your Explorer or Land Cruiser orders, allow me to manage your expectations.

If it is comfort you’re looking for, then you won’t notice much of a change. At least not in the way we normally evaluate comfort. I say this because ride is not one dimensional. You simply don’t measure it simply on how ‘Matagtag’ it is. On a straight, poorly-maintained road like, say EDSA, the ride is firm but fair, with only a marginal improvement. It only really begins to pay dividends as soon as the speed picks up and the road starts throwing curves and and valleys into the mix.

Here’s where you start feeling the magic of the Bilsteins. Steering immediately feels sharpened up because the turn in is so responsive, weight transfer and body control is significantly improved, making it feel a lot lighter than it is; it is so pronounced, it really does start to feel like you’re driving a different vehicle. I was actually surprised at just how good it was.

This may not sound like a big enough deal for some owners until you unsuspectingly enter a corner too quick or you need to perform an emergency lane change––especially on a downhill road.

Then there’s the recovery. When you hit either a big bump or a huge dip in the road, the car regains its composure immediately and keeps you completely in control.

So overall, yes there’s a noticeable, or more importantly, a justifiable improvement in ride and handling. That inevitably equates to comfort, so long as you’re evaluating the overall experience and not just one key area.


About the Author

James Deakin
James Deakin is a multi-awarded automotive journalist located in Manila, Philippines. He has a weekly column in the Philippine STAR's motoring section, is a motoring corespondent for CNN Philippines and is the host of the Philippine motoring television show Drive, which airs every Sunday night at 10pm on CNN Philippines.