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2000s Muscle SUV: The Chevy Trailblazer SS was an Affordable, Corvette-Powered Family Hauler

Given how popular SUVs are right now, and given the kind of high performance hardware General Motors has available in their catalog, you’d think a high performance SS version of the Tahoe would be a no brainer.

Whatever the reason, GM doesn’t currently offer a street-oriented, V8-powered enthusiast SUV with SS badges. But there was a time when they did—and it’s not surprising to hear that vehicle is still quite sought after today.

Chevy Trailblazer SS Black 2006

A 'Vette for the Family

For this story we go back to the year 2006. By 2006 GM’s midsized GMT360 SUVs had been on the market for a few years, with the Chevy Trailblazer being the best-selling version.

Chevy Trailblazer SS Front Grille

The idea of a hot-rodded Trailblazer had been on the mind of GM engineers since the GMT360 platform debuted, and in 2002 they built a one-off Trailblazer SS Concept powered by a 6.0L V8 from GM's larger SUVs.

2002 Chevy Trailblazer SS Concept

And when they finally got the greenlight to build a production version, the real Trailblazer SS came out looking very similar to the concept. 

Chevy Trailblazer SS Silver

While the majority of Trailblazers were powered by the new Atlas inline-six, the SS borrowed its 6.0 liter LS2 powerplant directly from the Corvette. And in Trailblazer trim it made 395 horsepower and 400 pound feet of torque. 

Chevy Trailblazer SS 6.0 Engine

Practical, Fast & Cheap

Base models fed that power to an upgraded limited slip rear differential through a four-speed automatic transmission, and AWD was also available for those seeking additional traction.

Chevy Trailblazer SS Interior

The SS also received its own suspension with new springs and dampers, a lower ride height, upsized brakes and wider 20" alloy wheels. It also received just enough cosmetic tweaking to hint at its higher performance level.

Chevy Trailblazer SS 2006

The result was a pretty special SUV, and one that moved quite well. Quarter mile times were in the 13s, and the Trailblazer SS’s handling and grip what well beyond what anyone expected for a body-on-frame utility vehicle.

It also did the regular SUV stuff well too. It could tow as well as normal SUV, it had plenty of room for a family and their gear and if equipped with AWD it could be used in nearly any conditions. 

Chevy Trailblazer SS Interior

Best of all, the Traiblazer SS was a relatively affordable machine. When it went on sale in 2006 a base RWD model had an MSRP a little under $33,000, which translated to today's dollars would put it at about $44,000. Unlike most speciality performance SUVs, it was still within in the range of your typical buyer. 

Chevy Trailblazer 2006 Rear View

A Short-Lived Success

Despite its great performance and easy to swallow price tag, the Trailblazer SS wasn't around for long. With rising fuel prices and the economic downturn, GM stopped building GMT360s in late 2008. So the Trailblazer SS has always been relatively rare, with only about 26,000 sold over three model years.

And because it was never replaced, demand for used examples has remained quite high. And with its LS engine, there's no shortage of aftermarket power potential for those looking for more speed.

Chevy Trailblazer SS Front View 2006

Looking around used car listings today, about the cheapest you'll find any Trailblazer SS is about $12,000 with most examples priced anywhere from the mid teens to low 20,000s depending on condition and mileage.

And despite the popularity of the Trailblazer SS, GM hasn't seen fit to build another high performance SUV. Today those buyers will likely be looking toward something like a Dodge Durango SRT or a Ford Explorer ST. 

Chevy Trailblazer SS 2006 Black

But for a brief time in late 2000s, one could buy a reasonably priced family SUV with the heart of a Corvette, and it comes as no surprise that the 2006-2008 Trailblazer SS is still a sought-after vehicle today.

If you thought the Trailblazer SS was rare, wait until you hear about its its badge-engineered, Swedish-branded cousin the Saab 9-7X Aero.

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