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Chevy TrailBlazer to skip U.S. showrooms in global rollout

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News

Does Chevrolet plan to expand its SUV lineup in the United States? Some Chevrolet dealers think so.

Over the past several months several Chevy dealers have indicated they expect General Motors' new mid-sized TrailBlazer to join the brand's U.S. lineup.

The good-looking concept debuted in November at the Dubai International Motor Show. The seven-seat SUV will be sold globally, beginning early this year in Thailand, where it will be equipped with a diesel engine.

The TrailBlazer is based on the redesigned Colorado, a body-on-frame pickup that's been engineered for global markets and the United States.

Sales of the redesigned Colorado are expected to begin in 2013.

Chevrolet sells vehicles in over 130 markets outside the United States, but the automaker hasn't said which markets will get the SUV.

The TrailBlazer name is familiar to most Americans. During the SUV craze last decade, TrailBlazer was a very successful mid-sized SUV, offered in five- and seven-passenger versions.

But Chevrolet discontinued the TrailBlazer nameplate here back in 2008 due to rising gasoline prices coupled with disappointing fuel economy.

So, will the TrailBlazer name resurface in the United States?

Jeff Luke, vehicle line executive for General Motors' trucks and crossovers, said it was considered for the U.S. market, "but we have no plans to bring it here."

GM says the new TrailBlazer won't be coming to U.S. showrooms soon, despite the expectations of some Chevy dealers. Photo credit: GM

The TrailBlazer and Chevrolet Traverse are basically the same size and have the same capability, he said during an interview at Detroit's North American International Auto Show.

One major difference is that the TrailBlazer is a rear-wheel-drive configuration -- the Traverse is front-drive.

"I guess you could look at it as possibly another choice for a customer. It is a different nameplate, it has some heritage to it," Luke said.

But "if you provide the customer with too many choices in the same showroom," Luke said, "you start competing with yourself."

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