Not that many soccer moms would have any interest in this sort of thing, but for us horsepower-crazed types, the idea of a 5,000-pound SUV with 395 ponies via a 6-liter LS2 under the hood really gets our blood pumping-and that's in stock trim. Imagine adding a tune to the computer, a cold-air induction kit, or better yet, a little boost?
Back in the October '07 issue of SUPER CHEVY, editor Jim Campisano had the honor of taking a Trailblazer SS for a little track testing; additionally, he added a few hundred miles to the odometer. Jim boasted of the athletic handling, robust acceleration, rugged good looks and its low 14-second quarter-mile times in the 90-plus-degree heat. Intrigued by the SS's attributes, we figured we would take it a step further with the addition of Magna Charger's complete Radix intercooled supercharger system (pn 01-12-60-105-PO).
Magna Charger, a division of Magnuson Products of Ventura, California, develops and markets complete supercharger systems for popular domestic cars and trucks. Magna Charger is capable of developing a complete system and running through every avenue of design, fabrication, testing and production. Owner Jerry Magnuson himself brings 30-plus years of supercharging experience into the equation.
Before starting any work on the SS, Dan unpacked all the boxes and laid the components on a clean table to take inventory. Beyond making sure all items were accounted for, Dan disconnected the battery and injector harness connections, removed the factory air intake from the engine compartment, and drained the coolant from the radiator. (Some SS trucks do not utilize a drain in the radiator; therefore, one must either loosen the thermostat housing or remove the lower hose for drainage.)
This particular system utilizes the Magnuson MP112 supercharger with an internal bypass valve. It reduces parasitic drag on the supercharger to less than 1 hp during normal driving conditions. With the combination of the intercooler being integrated into the lower intake manifold and above-average manifold distribution, higher levels of detonation-free boost are achieved.
Before performing an install of any kind, we needed to have a suitable test vehicle. For this we called upon Dan Smith, owner of D&S Performance, a shop that specializes in engine machining and custom engine builds in sunny Camden, New Jersey. We knew Dan was one of those Turbo Buick guys, but additionally used an '06 Trailblazer SS as his daily driver. After we went over the project with Dan, he was eager to be involved.
As previously stated, a stock Trailblazer SS can cover the quarter-mile in the low 14-second range at around 98 mph in stock trim. Going a step further, Dan installed a cold-air induction and a tune by means of his Diablosport handheld tuner, which helped propel the SS into the mid-13-second range-not bad for 2.5 tons of fun! But we were looking to improve upon that in a big way.
Prior to performing the install, we headed to Tune Time Performance in Toms River, New Jersey, for some baseline chassis dyno numbers. Tune Time specializes in dyno tuning for the LSX crowd and the shop's mechanics also perform hardcore modifications to the Trailblazer SS, Corvette, SSR and Cobalt, to name a few. According to Matt Hauffe, owner of Tune Time, the average horsepower output to the wheels of an all-wheel-drive SS is around 290-300. Dan's checked in at 290 exactly after we returned it to stock, which makes perfect sense with an approximate 30 percent loss through the drivetrain.
The install was rather easy and the instruction manual was the most complete and helpful we've ever encountered-how about 211 color images worth! With basic knowledge and some mechanical ability, almost anyone can install this kit. Otherwise, professionals such as those at D&S Performance or Tune Time Performance can assist and get you running in no time flat. Magna Charger has every avenue of the install covered, showing that it did its homework when it comes to supercharging your ride.
Now follow along with our Magna Charger huffer installation.
The next order of business was to remove all the intake manifold fasteners, vacuum lines, remaining injector and sensor harness connections, and the fuel feed line. We also removed the throttle body, which will be installed onto the supercharger unit later. (Fuel pressure must be relieved via the check valve on the passenger-side fuel rail. Before disconnecting the feed line, a screwdriver and shop rag will be needed to safely relieve all pressure.)
Once the intake is removed, it is important to either vacuum or carefully clean the dirt, leaves, and whatever else has accumulated underneath to prepare for the removal of the valley cover. Next, the upper radiator hose and alternator were removed from the vehicle once all the fasteners were removed.
Here, Dan removed the coolant vent crossover tube as indicated in the instructions, allowing room for the removal of the stock valley cover. Both a new vent tube and valley cover are provided with the new kit in order to install the Magna Charger. No major headaches thus far.
Once the new valley cover was torqued down with its unique countersunk fasteners for additional clearance, the new vent tube was installed with a new O-ring for trouble-free sealing. Also pictured is the entirely new tensioner assembly included within the kit. It contains a unique mounting provision for the new water pump outlet to be installed.
Pictured here is the old water pump outlet (top), as well as the new unit. The new unit is available to be clocked into different radii to provide the ultimate in clearance. Also pictured is the alternator bracket, which Dan has marked for a little trimming.This step can be performed in the vehicle-just be sure to cover the entire engine compartment to keep any shavings from entering into the intake ports or other places. A suitable grinder and protective eyewear are a must during this step.
This image shows the altered bracket, which provided the needed clearance for the Magna Charger to be installed. Both Dan and technician Denny Longworth hoist the MP112 atop the LS2 6-liter, being careful not to disturb the preinstalled intake manifold gaskets. Once properly aligned, the fasteners were torqued to 89 lb/in, as per the instructions.
Next, Denny removed both headlight assemblies, the front bumper, and (shown here) the headlight framing from the SS. We found room to install the heat exchanger in front of the A/C condenser by utilizing the already-present upper condenser mounting fasteners. For clearance, the framing must be cut down, as indicated here with the yellow marking. While this step may seem a bit involved, it was very easy.
Pictured is Denny drilling into the right front framerail; the result will allow fasteners to be installed to hold the intercooler pump in place. Proper measurements are specified in the instruction manual. Also pictured is the mounting procedure for the intercooler reservoir bottle onto the low-side A/C hose near the accumulator assembly. Now that the heat exchanger, reservoir and pump are in place, much of the coolant hose can be installed and the front fascia put back to original condition.
One of the more important processes of the installation is pinning the crankshaft. The LS engine comes sans a keyway on the crank; therefore, with the additional load being applied from the blower, the balancer pulley may spin on the crank. MagnaCharger provides all that is needed for this modification (minus the drill). First, the template bushing was bolted to the front, which guided the drill. Next came the drilling process, and finally, the pins were driven into place. Note: Whenever removing the crankshaft balancer bolt, a new one must be installed as they are torque-to-yield (stretch). A new one can be obtained from the dealer or a reusable unit from ARP can also be obtained.
Shown is the new serpentine belt installed, as well as the new idler pulley provided in the kit. Some wiring modifications were necessary, such as installing new MAF- (mass air flow) and IAT- (intake air temperature) sensor connectors, and wiring the pump for the intercooler. You may be need help in this department depending on your skill level; with a basic knowledge of wiring, this step is pretty easy. Finally, the coolant fan, shroud, and air intake system were installed. Before start-up, the Engine Control Module and Transmission Control Module must be properly tuned for the new setup, including the bigger 42-pound fuel injectors. Magna Charger provides a shipping label, box, and foam inserts so the units can be sent back for the proper parameters to be installed.
Once the install was completed, we headed over to Tune Time Performance for some additional dyno tuning and final numbers. Tune Time has installed a bunch of the Magna Charger units, so we were extremely comfortable with letting it tune on the SS. The AWD SUV laid down 290 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque in stock trim. With the Magna Charger system installed, the SS cranked out a whopping 370 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque under 7-8 psi of boost, which equates to around 480-490 hp at the flywheel-not exactly 500 hp, but with dynos varying from shop to shop, who knows? With additional tuning, aftermarket headers/exhaust, and a better torque converter, the SS could easily reach the 550 hp mark with quarter-mile track times in the low 12s or even high 11s.
After tuning was completed, the SS rolled down the quarter-mile to the tune of 12.83 seconds at 104 mph-amazing, considering the stock low 14-second times. The best 60-foot was a stout 1.79 and weight was a robust 5,150 pounds (with driver). Right now, the torque converter is killing performance. With the right one, mid-12s can easily be achieved. Driveability is excellent, and even with all the newfound horsepower, the SS retains its docile street manners-at least until the accelerator gets smashed through the floorboard.