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Old 01-29-2014, 10:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm looking to replace my '03 Grand Caravan (225k miles, tranny starting to slip & rusting) with a fun to drive SUV (used, max. $20K).

I'm in the kitchen reno business, so need space for tools / some material on occasion.

I have been looking at the 2006-08 Trailblazer SS - thoughts / suggestions?
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have mixed feelings toward the GMT360 platform. They are a "pragmatic" SUV in the sense that they can tow, they can haul, they aren't built on a car frame so if asked to do "truck" things - it can deliver.

On the other hand, I haven't heard many kind things in the reliability department top to bottom on them. They are CR black dot queens.

The SS is supposed to be darn fun, if not thirsty - and I would suspect easily found in your budget. For what you want to do - it is certainly capable - but I suspect that ongoing reliability will be problematic - at best. I know one of the TTAC writers speaks fondly of GMT360 - and I'm under the impression didn't have a litany of mechanical issues. Can't remember who (or with the changes with the old EIC if they still write here anymore).

Someone else I'm sure can chime in.

If I think "fun" SUV that can do yeoman duty to support your vocation...well...not a whole lot comes to mind. I'll toss out that the GMT800 and GMT900 Chevrolet Avalanche (since you're considering fun) is fun, flexible, has a massive cargo area (that I would call highly water resistant, not completely water proof) but it is also unbelievably thirsty and 19-1/2 feet long.

Wow - stumped.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"fun to drive SUV"



This is tough, compared to a Caravan they all would be kind of fun to drive, but mostly off-road is where the "fun" in SUVs begin. If you're leaning toward a Trailblazer I think you might find the Tahoe a better value. I would go for a Grand Cherokee only because I've had several and was always pleased with them
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Old 01-29-2014, 01:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I second that thought. A Liberty is a fun little SUV too, but it might be a bit small for your purposes. Have you considered a Crew Cab Dakota/Taco?
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Old 01-29-2014, 03:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Dodge Nitro 4x4 with a 6 speed manual (all 3 of them that they actually built.)¬*

Tahoes are at least tough, the school district I work for took several to 100,000+ miles with the abuse of employees and poor maintenance of our motor pool. However that also means they hold their value well. A 4x4 model with AUTO 4x4 mode could be fun during the summer with the right tires and maybe some drop spindles if that is possible from an engineering standpoint.¬*

SBC always sounds sweet...¬*
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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badcoffee said I second that thought. A Liberty is a fun little SUV too, but it might be a bit small for your purposes. Have you considered a Crew Cab Dakota/Taco? I've driven a Liberty and didn't like it at all, also should have mentioned that I have a Silverado for hauling stuff, so don't need another pick-up. I'll have to look closer at the Tahoe and Grand Cherokee, size can be an issue when working in downtown Toronto (although the Tahoe is approximately the same size of the Grand Caravan). Thanks for the input.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I have mixed feelings toward the GMT360 platform. They are a "pragmatic" SUV in the sense that they can tow, they can haul, they aren't built on a car frame so if asked to do "truck" things - it can deliver. On the other hand, I haven't heard many kind things in the reliability department top to bottom on them. They are CR black dot queens. The SS is supposed to be darn fun, if not thirsty - and I would suspect easily found in your budget. For what you want to do - it is certainly capable - but I suspect that ongoing reliability will be problematic - at best. I know one of the TTAC writers speaks fondly of GMT360 - and I'm under the impression didn't have a litany of mechanical issues. Can't remember who (or with the changes with the old EIC if they still write here anymore). Someone else I'm sure can chime in. If I think "fun" SUV that can do yeoman duty to support your vocation...well...not a whole lot comes to mind. I'll toss out that the GMT800 and GMT900 Chevrolet Avalanche (since you're considering fun) is fun, flexible, has a massive cargo area (that I would call highly water resistant, not completely water proof) but it is also unbelievably thirsty and 19-1/2 feet long. Wow - stumped.



All I know about GMT360, from our good friend Aleks Dykes, is that their transmissions break, often, and they're cheap to repair in general because they sold a ton of them.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The TBSS are great vehicles, but so are the GMT800s.



i agree on the liberty, the one time I've been inside of one I felt it was goin to tip over just parked there.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Since you already have a pick up, how about newer Caravan with the Pentastar 3.6 liter 6? Fits your price range, and for road duty I don't thing you'll find a SUV that beats it in fun-to-drive.
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Old 02-07-2014, 03:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm looking to replace my '03 Grand Caravan (225k miles, tranny starting to slip & rusting) with a fun to drive SUV (used, max. $20K). I'm in the kitchen reno business, so need space for tools / some material on occasion. I have been looking at the 2006-08 Trailblazer SS - thoughts / suggestions?



So I have owned a 2006 TBSS since 2005. In fact, I bought a pilot TBSS, so the VIN will return a build date before the documented production dates.



What would you like to know? I won't say I know everything about them, but my checkbook will reveal I know an awful lot more than is reasonable. They are not really practical. It may look practical, but you need another car as a backup or better yet, as a daily driver. They are a hoot to drive. And they don't just go fast in a straight line, John Heinricy made sure they handled and stopped, too. But there is only so much you can do with a GMT360. I look at it like this - it replaced my 1996 Impala SS closer than any other GM car could at the time. GM was bleeding red at the time. For $ 29240, tax, tag, everything, I got an LS2. With an SUV around it. Did I mention the LS2???!!!



A few trannies (good ones, too!), pitted bearings, etc. later, I still have it. It's a lightly modded,12 mpg (highway or city, thanks to a 4.10 Eaton), 12 second SUV (no track prep, either, very repeatable) that isn't particularly well screwed together from the factory. If you're really serious about one, I'd be happy to chat with you and bore you with more detail and trivia than one should know. If not, know this - they're a blast. It should not be your daily driver without knowing and doing a few things to it. Or make sure you also own practical cars, too (for reference, a Honda and a Lexus for me).
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