Buy/Drive/Burn: American Family-hauling SUVs in 2005

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Chevrolet announced the rebirth of the Trailblazer (note the spelling) for the 2021 model year. However, unlike its predecessor, it’s now a compact, three-cylinder CUV. The comments got a bit heated, pitting the GMT 360 version against its contemporary competition.

So let’s settle this. It’s time for a Buy/Drive/Burn in 2005.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee was brand new for model year 2005, as the midsize offering entered its third generation (WK). For its first year in North America, Grand Cherokee was available in Laredo, Limited, and Overland trims. Today’s selection is a mid-level Limited. Niceties like dual power seats, leather upholstery, and a CD changer were upgrades over the base Laredo. Standard on Limited was the 4.7-liter Power-Tech V8, which sent 235 horsepower through a five-speed automatic. The Grand Cherokee lived on in WK guise through 2010.

Ford Explorer

2005 found the Ford Explorer in the final model year of its third generation. For 2005, Explorer was available in XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited trims. We’ll opt for the Eddie Bauer today, which came standard with power seats, climate control, wood trim, and two-tone leather that mirrored the paint scheme on the exterior. Powering the Eddie Bauer was Ford’s Modular 4.6-liter V8, which routed 238 horsepower through the five-speed automatic.

Chevrolet TrailBlazer

TrailBlazer was introduced to GM customers in 1999 as the upscale trim of the ubiquitous Blazer (there was also an Envoy package for the Jimmy). The name came into its own as an all-new model for the 2002 model year. In 2005, customers could access three trims of TrailBlazer: LS, LT, and LTZ. Today’s pick is an LT, which upped the ante over LS with leather seats all around, powered buckets up front, optional Bose stereo, OnStar, and a power moonroof. Navigation was an option which almost nobody bought. For 2005, the 5.3-liter V8 was upgraded to the revised LH6 version. Featuring active fuel management, it produced 300 horsepower which made their way to the road via the four-speed automatic. TrailBlazer lived through 2009 before its replacement by the Traverse.

Three SUVs you saw daily between 2005 and 2013 (probably). Which one’s worth a Buy?

[Images: GM, Ford, Jeep]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
2 of 71 comments
  • NoID NoID on Nov 23, 2019

    For all the WK hate on here, check out the residuals on the SRT version. On a whim I went internet shopping for one, and 5 minutes on AutoTrader made it clear that it was NOT an option.

  • Gtem Gtem on Nov 25, 2019

    Buy: Explorer because it as the 4.6. Likely a reliable truck overall, maybe a set of front control arms, a few other odds and ends and it will roll up on 200k. Drive: Jeep, to trash it offroad. It's total trash otherwise IMO. Burn: Trailblazer. Something went amiss between the final T-10 S10 Blazers and these. I actually really like the T-10s more and more these days, not sure if it's pure nostalgia or what. My friend's dad, a regional manger at AppleBees had a later year ('02ish?) LT as a company vehicle, I thought it was fabulously luxurious with its leather seats, soft ride, and overhead compass/thermometer console. Time has proven the 4 doors to be remarkably well rust-proofed and generally reliable (4.3L, 4L60E).

  • Bof65705611 CarPlay is awesome. Nav and music have been mentioned but it’s also amazing for texting, WhatsApp, my calendar, Zoom calls, FaceTime calls, and phone calls. I don’t like touchscreens in the car but both my cars (BMW, Mazda) use a rotary knob, which isn’t great, but doable with minimal time with eyes off the road.
  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hmmm get rid of the garbage engine in my chevy, and the garbage under class action lawsuit transmission? sounds good to me
  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.