The 2021 Chevrolet
Trailblazer is on its way, filling the narrow space between the subcompact Trax and the compact Equinox while offering better fuel economy and a cheaper base price than both.
The Trailblazer will arrive in dealers this spring, and although Chevrolet wouldn't cop to specific numbers, the company did promise it would have a starting price under $20,000. The base trim will also be joined by off-road-inspired Trailblazer Activ and the sporty Trailblazer RS
, the later taking ample inspiration from the larger Blazer crossover.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Exterior Front Quarter 01
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Exterior Rear Quarter 01
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer shares its architecture with the attractive Buick Encore GX (much like the Trax and standard Encore share their bones), and the small Chevy will also feature the same engines as its upmarket sibling. The Trailblazer's base engine will be a 1.2L turbocharged I-3, which produces 137 hp at 5,000 rpm and 166 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm, mated to a continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive only. An optional 1.3L turbocharged I-3 will be the top option, making 155 hp at 5,600 rpm and 174 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm. It will be mated to either a CVT and front-wheel drive or a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
Both engines should be acceptable in daily traffic, though we have to admit some disappointment that there won't be a spicier engine variant to help the RS trim level back up its looks with some genuine hot-hatch performance. What the engines will do is offer good fuel economy—Buick
claims 31 mpg combined for the 1.2L mill in the Encore GX, and the Trailblazer will likely match that.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Exterior Side Profile
Whither the Trax?
If you're paying attention, you'll note the new SUV will be more efficient than the Trax, which can hit 28 mpg combined in its thriftiest form. What's more, the 1.2L-powered 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer also boasts more torque and nearly as much power as the Trax's 1.4L turbocharged EcoTec I-4. And the Trailblazer has more maximum cargo capacity than the Trax, 54.4 versus 48.4 cubic feet with the second-row seat folded. Like the Trax, the Trailblazer's front passenger seat folds forward and flat, making room for objects up to 8.5 feet long.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Interior Instrument Cluster
Modern safety features have become prerequisites for many new-vehicle shoppers, and the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer obliges here as well. Standard are forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane-keep assistance, and a rearview camera, while parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring are optional. The Trax doesn't offer any of those features at any price.
With a lower base buy-in, larger interior, and better fuel economy, it's hard to think of a reason why crossover shoppers wouldn't flock to the Trailblazer in droves over its little sibling.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Exterior Front Quarter 02
Urban Jungle or Actual Jungle
The Trailblazer will be available in the aforementioned Activ and RS trim levels, the former boasting a few surprising off-road niceties. The Activ gets standard Hankook Dynapro tires with a relatively aggressive tread pattern, as well as trim-specific damper tuning and a higher-clearance front bumper. Brown upholstery and dash accents, standard roof rails, and a two-tone roof emphasize the trim's slightly more aggressive demeanor, but don't be fooled—the Trailblazer might get you down a dirt road with poise, but it's no rock crawler. Most CUV buyers will be happy with the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ's performance, but we wouldn't recommend cross-shopping it with a Renegade Trailhawk.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Rs Exterior Front Quarter 01
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Rs Interior Dashboard
For those who have no pretensions of roughing it, the Trailblazer RS offers decidedly sportier styling than the rugged-ish Activ. It shares a two-tone roof (black for the RS), and it features a mesh-patterned grille, black Chevrolet emblems, a splitter-inspired front bumper, and a wheel design that befits its sport-compact car personality. Inside, the RS gets a few red accents to liven up its black interior. Hopefully, GM will see fit to offer a sportier state of tune for the uplevel 1.3L turbocharged engine, if for no other reason than to give the RS model a bit more zest underhood.
But even if not, the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer offers a lot for the money—space, efficiency, and commuter-friendly power. The similarly priced (and less powerful) Nissan Kicks
is more economical on gas, as is the cheaper (and also-less powerful) Hyundai
Venue. But the Trailblazer should be more tractable in freeway driving, as well as more spacious. It promises to be a good all-around entry-level SUV, and we think new families, college students, and frugally minded shoppers will find a lot to love.
| 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Exterior Front Cabin