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Next year Chevrolet will pump up the TrailBlazer with a high-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 and a suspension tweaked at an unlikely location - Germany's famed Nurburgring track.

Meanwhile, Jeep is considering an SUV that would be at home on a racetrack, too. And it definitely wouldn't be "trail rated."

SUVs with big engines and suspension tweaks aren't new. Both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche AG have such vehicles. But it is not yet clear whether nonluxury brands can successfully compete for high-performance bragging rights.

The interest in powerful engines and better-handling SUVs reflects the trend in the car business, says Jeff Schuster, director of product analysis at J.D. Power and Associates.

The Chrysler group has been promoting Hemi-equipped cars and trucks, while Saturn has begun marketing its Red Line high-performance vehicles.

High-performance SUVs "equate to the whole kind of fun-to-drive wave that we are riding," Schuster says. "I think that is all playing into this, in ways to differentiate yourself from the competition."

To be sure, General Motors attempted this strategy once before - with little success. In 1992, the automaker introduced the GMC Typhoon, a 280-horsepower SUV variant of the Jimmy.

The automaker sold 2,500 Typhoons in 1992, and 2,200 in 1993. After two years, the company dropped the truck. Some critics noted that the Typhoon's lowered suspension ruled out towing or hauling.

General Motors is mum about details for the 2006 TrailBlazer SS. But a concept vehicle by the same name displayed at the New York auto show in April offers some hints, GM executives say.

That vehicle featured a 345-hp 6.0-liter V-8 Corvette engine with 380 pounds-feet of torque. The concept was equipped with stability control, the latest traction control system and an electronically controlled air suspension.

Key elements of the TrailBlazer SS's character will be ride and handling. The vehicle will share its suspension design with the 2005 Saab 9-7X, according to an industry source.

High-speed tests

A test mule with a TrailBlazer front end was photographed in May during high-speed runs at Germany's famed Nurburgring track. That track is where Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Cadillac and other automakers test their sports cars and some sedans.

It's an unlikely venue for an SUV, but not unprecedented. Porsche tested its Cayenne SUV at Nurburgring.

While most SUVs have enough ground clearance to climb over rocks and tree trunks, GM lowered the center of gravity for the TrailBlazer SS. The concept's suspension is two inches lower. The intent is to reduce the risk of rollover.

The 2006 TrailBlazer SS is aimed at "a guy who wants an SUV that is out of the ordinary," says Jim Hall, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific Inc. "It definitely looks better because it sits lower. It is a lot more aggressive."

But GM isn't saying whether the 2006 TrailBlazer SS will be equipped with the Corvette engine touted in the concept.

Company spokeswoman Dayna Hart said the production vehicle will have a 6.0-liter V-8. The automaker "can't give specifics on whether it is the exact Corvette engine or the truck version, but it is a Corvette-inspired engine."

GM has three 6-liter V-8s in its engine portfolio.

The truck's suspension "will not be exactly like the Saab's suspension," says Hart. But she did say that its suspension tuning will be that of a high-performance SUV.

Sales of the TrailBlazer SS will begin in fall 2005, she says. All-wheel drive will be optional. Jeep touts its SUVs as "trail rated" and points to their off-road capability. Yet Jeep is considering a Grand Cherokee SRT.

SRT is the Chrysler group's performance unit, which created vehicles such as the Dodge Viper SRT-10 and Ram SRT-10 pickup. Vehicles developed by the group feature horsepower, braking and handling enhancements.

"There is room for SRT in Jeep," says Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's executive vice president of global sales, marketing and service.

While not confirming that a Grand Cherokee SRT will be produced, Eberhardt says, "I won't think that a couple of thousand SRT Jeeps will destroy the overall imagery and trail-rated capability of the Jeep brand."






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I say bring it on. I know there are alot of people that just dont understand the concept of a fast truck that can handle, but I love the idea.
 

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I'm just curious. Why does GM have to always offer some very expensive option to get the great engine? You have to step up to a Denali to get the 6.0 L in the Yukon, they don't even offer it in the Tahoe. They don't offer it in there pickups unless you step up to the Denali. You can go out and get a Hemi in the Ram or Durango in just about any model? :angry:
 

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I'm gad that GM is doing this, but trying to make a sporty car out of a SUV like all makers are doing now, it just silly. The Porshce Cayenne handles great, for an SUV, but compare it a sporty car and it's terrible. High centers or gravity do not equal sporty cars. Obviously there are buyers for these head scratchers and I'm glad GM is offering some hood hardware to back up the SS name.

Mark
 

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Big displacement V8s in SUVs sounds fun and overdue considering trucks have had high performance engines for a while now, but so much for fuel economy. I imagine trucks and "horrible" SUVs will need to be sold with automated machine guns before long in order to keep the eco-nuts away.
 
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The Porsche Cayanne and Infiniti FX45 are legit perfomance luxury SUV's. They have styling however which the Trailblazer does not. The Cayanne and FX45 were designed with performance in mind.

Too compare the Cayanne or FX45 to a performance Trailblazer is definitely mixing apples and oranges. A performance Caddy SRX however, could be competitor to the 2 above listed vehicles.

I'm not saying a performance Trailbalzer wouldn't sell. I'm just saying a Cayanne and FX45 consumer is different than a perf Trailblazer consumer.

I would actually prefer a more "rugged" Trailblazer. You know, lifted a bit, maybe a skid plate, a more rugged suspension ? A stance similar to a Toyo Tacoma would be cool. When I see the Trailblazer I see a "family" vehicle, maybe go skiing in it, but NOT hard core off-roading, or even the chance of it. The Toyo Tacoma looks like a rig you could take off the logging roads, while the Trailblazer must stay on the logging roads.

Some guys (such as myself) who are addicted to "American Choppers" and wondering whether Pauley Jr. will "figure out the fender", may like a performance Trailblazer. Where, I guess a "guy" who likes the Cayanne or FX45 may like watching "***** Eye..." and buying $100 cologne. (ha ha)

hmm, that's my opinion...

:woot2:
 
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A performance Nomad, however, would be kick-a$$ !!!!!

:mf_boff:

:bounce:
 

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Originally posted by usa1@Jun 28 2004, 07:03 PM
I'm gad that GM is doing this, but trying to make a sporty car out of a SUV like all makers are doing now, it just silly. The Porshce Cayenne handles great, for an SUV, but compare it a sporty car and it's terrible. High centers or gravity do not equal sporty cars. Obviously there are buyers for these head scratchers and I'm glad GM is offering some hood hardware to back up the SS name.

Mark
I agree with you on multiple fronts. It seems like there are certain USA car aficionados who do like these vehicles. Recent Infiniti sales successes reflect in part the popularity of the FX, and Porsche can thank the Cayenne for saving its American sales (to my knowledge, both 911 and Boxster sales are down year-on-year in 2004).

Go figure.

While I don't see myself in a performance SUV, I hope GM submits to the sheepish mentality in this case: when in Rome...
 

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Originally posted by MN12Fan@Jun 28 2004, 07:16 PM
I imagine trucks and "horrible" SUVs will need to be sold with automated machine guns before long in order to keep the eco-nuts away.
:D That sounds about right.

Sometimes I think SUV bashing is the national pastime. :angry:
 

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