2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Review
  • Car Review

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Review

By David Undercoffler | July 28, 2020

Pros:
Compact but useful size mixes practicality and efficiency.
Impressive interior construction and materials.
Quiet and comfortable ride quality

Cons:
Gets expensive with even mild options.
No sunroof or moonroof on the loaded model we tested.
Base model lacks proper power; the optional engine is better but barely.

Would we buy it?
Yes, but only the low and mid-grade trims.

Vehicle Type:
Almost-sub-compact five-passenger crossover.

Price Range:
$19,995 - $26,395 before options but after destination.

Powertrain:
Base models get a 1.2-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque.

A 1.3-liter turbocharged three-liter engine with 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque is optional.

On front-wheel-drive models, both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT); versions with all-wheel-drive have a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel-drive is standard; all-wheel-drive is optional but only on models with the larger 1.3-liter engine.


More Photos

Check out all the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer photos here.


Overview:

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The Chevy Trailblazer is an all-new subcompact crossover introduced for the 2020 model year. It resurrects the Trailblazer name but shares nothing in common with the old SUV that used the name years ago.

The Trailblazer is slightly larger than the Chevy Trax, the brand’s smallest crossover, and it sits beneath the larger Equinox, Blazer, Traverse, Tahoe, and Suburban in Chevrolet’s SUV and crossover lineup.

The Trailblazer competes against a variety of crossovers, including the Ford Bronco Sport and Escape, the Hyundai Kona and Venue, Mazda CX-30 and CX-3, Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Corolla Cross, Jeep Renegade and Compass, and Nissan Kicks and Rogue Sport.

The Trailblazer offers two engines: a base 137-horsepower turbo three (yes, three cylinders) and an optional 155-horsepower turbo three-cylinder. Front-wheel-drive is standard; all-wheel-drive is optional.

The new Trailblazer comes in five trim levels: L, LS, LT, Activ (which we tested), and RS. The base L and LS are only available with the lesser engine, the Activ and RS come with the more powerful engine only, and the L is front-wheel-drive only.

The Activ model we tested also comes with a uniquely-tuned suspension (ostensibly for more comfort on rough or dirt roads), unique tires with better tread, and slightly higher ground clearance.

Trailblazer RS models come with unique sporty exterior styling accents.

Overall Score: 7.1/10


Safety Features: 7/10

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  • All Trailblazer models come standard with a nice grouping of active safety tech: pre-collision alert, front-pedestrian braking, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning.

  • On some of the higher-end models, buyers can add a package that includes adaptive cruise control for $620. A package with rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change alert for $345.

  • NHTSA and IIHS have yet to crash-test the Trailblazer at the time of publication.


Value: 5/10

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  • The Trailblazer offers a mixed bag when it comes to value.

  • Some of the cheaper base and mid-level models offer a nice value for the money, mixing together features and safety content that matters.

  • Lower-end option packages (including the aforementioned safety options) allow buyers to easily and affordably add additional safety features.

  • Higher-end trims and option packages, however, come with fewer features than they should, meaning a loaded Trailblazer can hit $33,000. That’s a lot of money for what it is.


Tech Features: 8/10

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  • Chevy packed a nice amount of forward-looking tech into the Trailblazer, both as standard equipment as well as options.

  • All models come with a touchscreen infotainment system with a seven-inch screen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for two devices, Wifi hotspot, and multiple USB ports.

  • Higher-end models get an optional eight-inch touchscreen, plus other add-ons like wireless charging and wireless projection (so your Apple CarPlay will wirelessly show up on the display screen).


Practicality: 9/10

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  • Though it’s small, the Trailblazer packs a lot of practicality and smart features in an easy-to-park small crossover.

  • The front passenger seat folds down flat -- as do the rear seats -- to create a large loading area for unwieldy or oversized cargo items. Chevy says this little CUV can hold items up to 8.5 feet long with the front seat folded.

  • There is also a bevy of cubbies, storage pockets, and bins to keep a variety of items.

  • Overall, the Trailblazer offers a hearty 25 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 54 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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  • The Trailblazer smartly builds on the sleek, futuristic look of the larger Blazer crossover.

  • Small crossovers are sometimes difficult to get right in terms of styling and proportions, but Chevy nailed this one. It cleverly combines sportiness and ruggedness that a wide variety of buyers will find appealing.

  • Our biggest complaint was with the white roof; our Activ model would have looked less cheap and more premium with a body-colored roof.


Driving Experience: 6/10

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  • Our test model -- with the uprated 155 horsepower engine -- had enough power for daily driving, but it felt less potent than the 155 figure might indicate.

  • The engine would also get a little wheezy when you pushed it hard in acceleration.

  • The rest of the driving experience was impressive: it’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces, the ride quality and noise levels were better than others in this segment, and the transmission was seamless and stayed out of the way.


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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  • The Trailblazer with the smaller 1.2-liter engine and front-wheel-drive is rated at 28/31/29 MPG city/highway/combined.

  • The optional 1.3-liter turbo three with FWD is rated at 29/33/31 MPG city/highway/combined.

  • That same engine in AWD guise is rated by the EPA at 26/30/28 MPG city/highway/combined.

  • Those figures are competitive with most other models in its segment. In mostly city driving with the AWD 1.3-liter Active trim that we tested, we averaged about 22 miles per gallon.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base L starts at $19,995 (all prices include destination) and comes with the smaller 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, front-wheel-drive, a CVT gearbox, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, pre-collision alert and braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning.

The LS starts at $22,495 and adds a six-speaker audio system (up from four speakers), digital compass in the instrument panel, the aforementioned flat-folding front seat, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The LS with AWD, the larger 1.3-liter turbo, and the nine-speed automatic transmission starts at $24,495.

The LT starts at $24,595 for the front-wheel-drive version with the 1.2-liter engine and the CVT and adds LED foglights, heated front seats, tinted windows, heated exterior mirrors, silver-painted roof rails, cruise control, keyless entry and start, and unique 17-inch alloy wheels.

The LT with the optional 1.3-liter, 155-horsepower engine, and front-wheel-drive starts at $25,955. Also included is a remote start system.

The LT with AWD adds another $640.

The Activ with the larger 1.3-liter engine and FWD starts at $26,395 and adds dual exhaust, LED taillamps, a skid plate underneath the vehicle, unique suspension tuning, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and unique tires.

Activ models with AWD and the nine-speed automatic start at $27,895.

The RS comes with the 1.3-liter engine (the bigger one) and starts at $26,395 for the FWD version; AWD adds another $1,500. The RS comes with many of the interior upgrades that the Activ gets, plus sleeker exterior styling and unique 18-inch alloy wheels.

What would we buy? Probably the LT with the larger engine 1.3-liter engine and FWD or AWD. It comes with everything you want and need at this price and size point, at a competitive price.


More Photos

Check out all the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer photos here.