Well-designed all-around great SUV
Not sure why anyone would be interested in a review of a vehicle that's 17 years old, but I was asked, so here goes. Bought this TrailBlazer EXT in 2003 brand-new from a Nampa dealer. We're approaching a quarter-million miles on the vehicle now. I have always liked the design and features, and in fact have never replaced the rig because I can't find anything I like as well. It's a long-wheelbase SUV, but isn't as wide as all the other full-size SUVs, so fits in the garage niceley. It's equipped with a 5.3L V-8, so it can tow a decent-sized trailer. (We regularly tow a 23-foot Wildwood of about 6200 lbs loaded.) It's got plenty of room inside for long-legged passengers, (I'm 6'4", with kids of similar size) even with the front seats pushed back. Lots of seating and cargo versatility with the back two rows of split seats and an extra cargo partition that can be used to extend the level floor portion of the cargo area. Between grocery shopping, trips to the shooting range, hauling furniture, maintenance projects, family outings, etc., the seats are frequently being raised or folded as the situation dictates. Even the third row seats are pretty comfortable, raised enough to see over the second row, although they're best for small adults or children.
The HVAC system works great, keeping the vehicle comfy cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter. Controls for the rear-seat passengers are a plus, along with their own entertainment system controls. The entertainment system is one of my favorite features, with AM/FM, cassette, and CD. We've gotten many, many hours of enjoyment out of it. Even now I've transitioned to the digital age by patching a Samsung tablet in to the audio system using one of those cassette to audio cable adapters, which works great. I now have an entire library of digital music and audiobooks that travel with me everywhere. There is no built-in GPS, however, since that was not even available in 2003. My Samsung tablet and an app called "Go" address that need fairly well, although it's a bit clunky.
Never did any real "off-roading" with the rig, but the 4WD works great in the mud and snow, although the long wheelbase restricts fore and aft clearance somewhat. It's seen a lot of dirt roads in our backcountry explorations, and only once got stuck when the road just got too bad and I dropped it into a ditch while turning around. With 4-wheel disc brakes and ABS, it stops well and under control. As I said, we regularly tow a trailer, and it tracks straight and is fairly unperturbed by passing semis, although I still move right when they blow by. I do wish it had about 50 more horses and the same number of lb/ft of torque, since you can never have too much power. As it is I only tow at about 58-62 mph. Gas mileage is okay; we can count on 17-20 mpg on the highway, but only about 8.5 mpg when towing.
I wish I could say it's been trouble-free all these years and miles, but that would be asking a lot. I baby the rig, making sure it gets regularly serviced, garaging it, driving it smoothly and not abusing the throttle or brakes. The main drivetrain has thus far been solid. The front transaxles had a problem that required replacement under warranty. Just recently again had to do some front-end work that was kind of spendy. Very slow oil leak from the rear of the engine that would be way too expensive to repair. Recently replaced water pump, intake manifold gaskets, and starter. Have replaced the alternator once. One of the most annoying repairs was having to replace the entire instrument console when one instrument after another began failing. Some design flaw that was not discovered until long after our warranty was over. And we had a very weird transmission interlock module of some kind that caused an array of strange behaviors, but was exorcised by a savvy tech who tracked down the demonic module during a trip through the Tri-Cities. It was while I was waiting for the repair to be finished that I browsed through the dealer's lot and saw to my horror how much an equivalent new vehicle would cost. This made me a lot more forebearing of any problems the TrailBlazer might have.
There have probably been other problems beyond the routine, like tires, wipers, headlights, etc. But overall it's been a pretty reliable rig. If they made a 2020 Trailblazer with the same chassis configuration and at least as much power I'd buy another one. But for the time being I'll just hope I can keep this one rolling.