2021 Chevy Trailblazer & Blue Ox (long read)

Joined
Nov 15, 2019
Messages
119
Location
Portage, MI
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana LE 4037
RV Length
40' 11"
TOW/TOAD
2021 Chevy Trailblazer
It became time to replace our primary vehicle. The choices are somewhat limited when you need it to be towable 4 wheels down (dinghy). Being a long-time Chevy guy, I first started looking at that brand. A couple years ago they came out with the reintroduced Blazer. I immediately fell in love with its style and design, but that was soon lost when the price was just beyond what I wanted to spend. Plus, being in an Equinox for so many years, the Blazer is slightly larger and we do not need the extra size. Then, I found the new 2021 Trailblazer. I liked the styling and the size being slightly smaller than the Equinox. It took a while to find-out about the towability, but eventually confirmed that it is towable all four down, in the All-Wheel-Drive version, only. I began dealership explorations and found that the price is much more appealing.



This brand new platform is towable, but it requires a baseplate adapter to allow connecting a towbar. I have been a Blue Ox customer for the Equinox and had no reason to make a change. Blue Ox has what they call a “Fit Program”. It’s just for my type of situation. It is specifically for the design of a baseplate for a new chassis platform. I contacted Blue Ox in the middle of the recent Covid crisis. That complicated things, but we waited it out and were accepted as the guinea pig for the 2021 Trailblazer RS. So, the namesake is truly appropriate: it is blazing the trail of baseplate adapter design for all other Blue Ox customers to purchase.



The Fit Program requires that your brand new car goes to Pender Nebraska to have its face ripped off and design a new baseplate adapter. You must agree to allow it there for 5 consecutive days. During that time, they allow you access to their campground with full hook-ups, concrete pads and 50 amp service. The campground was a dream of the recently passed Blue Ox Chairman/President/CEO. Blue Ox also provides an unlimited mileage car for the entire time, also at no charge. But wait! There’s more. They design and install the baseplate, install the wiring harness for the towed vehicle, then they top off their thank you with a new towbar. All at no cost. The wiring harness must be purchased, but it and any other accessories are sold with a 25% discount.



The trip to NE NE (northeast Nebraska) is about 650 miles from home. Taking 2 days to get there and 2 days back was a nice trip. I rented a U-Haul auto transport trailer for a one-way rental. Beside the weight (empty trailer 2,200 pounds) all went OK. No trailer issues. I had to return the trailer to a site about 20 miles away. The loaner car did not have a trailer hitch for returning the trailer. Blue Ox allowed me use of one of their pickup trucks for the task. How nice.



As day #1 dragged on it was like waiting for your child’s surgery to be finished. I was anxious to learn about the face removal and replacement. (maybe a little over-dramatic) I did find out that they have figured out the connection points to the chassis and that some brackets have been designed. Fabrication is to commence.



Day #2 I couldn’t stand it any longer. I asked to see “the patient”. They weren’t too keen on the idea (Covid and all) but said OK. When we got back to the shop the engineers were a bit perplexed and discussing options. I felt a little out-of-place so I decided to leave. I did get to see my faceless car and saw a few things they have to work around, so all-in-all, I was satisfied.



Day #3 I received a call from the shop. They had a bit of a problem. The Chevy owner’s manual states to disconnect the negative battery cable. To date, I’ve received no reason from GM on why, but I’m just assuming that with electric assist steering, electric this and electric that, they just disconnect it. Negative side, I understand for safety. However, with the negative side disconnected, the lighting kit will not operate properly. The lights work just fine with the battery connected. The absence of a ground equals an open circuit and will not work. So after much soul-searching and thought, I decided that I will have to remove the negative battery switch that is already installed and install a remote battery disconnect on the positive side. I considered a dedicated ground wire from the taillight housings to the battery, but decided against it. I asked about the progress on the baseplate and it sounded like they were in a total redesign stage and waiting on part fabrication.



Day #4 I did not try and bother them, but in the early afternoon they said it was finished and we can finalize the exchange and paperwork. So we did. I was very pleased that they did not adulterate the fancy part of the grille. The connection tabs are in the lower vent opening and not too intrusive at all. At the final paperwork, there were no surprises and we parted company as a win-win situation. The baseplate for a 2021 Chevy Trailblazer should be available on their website very soon. The LT and Activ facias must be checked, but I think they should fit fine, too.



Day #5 hooked up and towing. Following the procedure laid out by Chevrolet and Blue Ox, we began the trip home. That first few miles and turns were a little concerning, but no problems. As I was rolling down the highway I began thinking about the wiring situation again. It occurred to me that we were missing one important thing: The taillights are grounded to the bodywork, the bodywork is grounded to the umbilical, which is grounded to the coach which is the powering the lights. So, the lights should theoretically be working. At the next stop I confirmed exactly that. YAY!! No additional work required.



So in a nutshell, I am very pleased with the Blue Ox program and their product. All personnel were very helpful and friendly. It’s a bit of a drive. Pender is not in the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there.



Thank you Patricia, Conner and Bob.
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Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
454
Location
No Where In Particular
RV Year
2020
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Dutch Star 4369
RV Length
43’ 9”
TOW/TOAD
2016 Colorado
Nice write up, thanks for the insight on how new chassis models are integrated.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
2,887
Location
Midlothian, VA
RV Year
2017
RV Make
Newmar
RV Model
Ventana 4037
RV Length
40' 10"
TOW/TOAD
2017 Chevy Colorado
Very nice. They sound like a great company and took great care of you. Good on you for going the extra mile for the others to have their vehicle supported when needed. Good to know the process.
 
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