2021 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER TEST DRIVE
2021 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
Both the Blazer and Trailblazer are back at Chevy but forget those vehicles from the past; these are entirely different SUVs now, starting with the brand’s most affordable, the all-new 2021 Trailblazer.
A base, front-wheel drive Trailblazer L available only in white with 16” steel wheels comes in at $19,995 including freight, making it even less expensive than the most entry-level Trax.
It’s powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged engine and continuously variable transmission. And then at the opposite end of the spectrum you have this one; the all-wheel drive Trailblazer RS with nearly every option, priced at $30,580.
In this configuration the Trailblazer receives a 1.3-liter turbo and a 9-speed automatic. Describing these motors as having only 3 cylinders is apparently taboo at Chevy because you won’t find any mention of it on either their retail or media site. Assembled in Korea just like its Buick counterpart the Encore GX, the Trailblazer is actually sized larger than the more expensive Trax slotting between it and the Equinox in Chevy’s 7-model SUV lineup.
The answer is Oasis Blue. This is the color that’s had everyone talking this week. It’s one of 6 that is available and it’s by far the most, attention grabbing? And if you like it, good news; it’s not even an upcharge paint choice.
It’s small but not prohibitively so, flaunts the brand’s new sporty crossover styling and can be equipped with enough bells and whistles to make it feel more substantive than its price would indicate.
This RS has almost all of my must-have features: remote start, keyless everything, heated seats, adaptive cruise, auto high beams, wireless charging with wireless phone connections, very solid infotainment, a name brand sound system, mixed USB ports front and rear, and side blind zone alert.
It’s a step-above cabin that nicely compliments the RS’s youthful design. No on-board navigation if that’s important to you but there is the new SiriusXM 360L and other cool imbedded apps per GM’s usual electronics excellence.
The Trailblazer’s cabin excels at not feeling entry-level with imaginative shapes and red accents. And with the optional Tech, Convenience and Driver Confidence Packages it truly feels well-stocked and premium.
As the driver, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the pick-up; 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque keep it from feeling at all sluggish and its drive is largely inoffensive especially for its intended audience.
The ride is a tad unforgiving, the lack of an independent rear suspension doesn’t help, the steering is overly assisted…stuff that may bother some of us but will mostly go overlooked in the small SUV segment.
A sport setting gives the smooth 9-speed a little kick in the pants and the all-wheel drive system is selectable in order to save gas but there’s no torque-vectoring for improved performance like its key rival.
I like the Trailblazer. It looks cool, comes stocked with premium features including wireless CarPlay and Android Auto and possesses a peppy engine that punches above its weight. With all-wheel drive and top tier safety and electronics, this one checks in at a friendly $30,500. In a vacuum that sounds like a deal…but then you remember that the Kia Seltos exists and all of a sudden, the TrailBlazer loses some luster.
And that’s the problem. If you care about the drive, the Seltos has significant advantages in all key areas not to mention the fact that it has more comfortable rear seating and more cargo room for a cheaper price in an apples-to-apples comparison. The Trailblazer doesn’t have reclining rear seats so they can feel a little tight for adults.
Transporting stuff is easy though because you can reach the rear seat levers from the back and there’s a dual-stage cargo floor.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, the Trailblazer uses its 8” of ground clearance and faux front skidplate in a more rugged looking package called the ACTIV trim which also bundles more aggressive tires and an off-road tuned suspension…same price as this RS.
The Trailblazer will be a strong performer for Chevy but those who do their homework might find a better match.