2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

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Updated: January 21, 2021

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer takes an old name and turns it into a new compact crossover. It has good looks, good room, good safety features, a good price, and a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine.

The Trailblazer wears a truck-like face, with a broad and steep nose, and cocky stance with wheels pushed to the corners. In interior room, it beats others in its class, especially in cargo space and rear leg room. Standard automatic emergency braking includes pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high beams—but crash-test scores aren’t perfect. The base model starts under $20,000.

As for the speed, there are three powertrains: a 1.2-liter turbo-3 or 1.3-liter turbo-3 mated to a CVT with front-wheel drive, or that 1.3-liter turbo-3 mated to a 9-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.

The 1.3-liter with front-wheel drive gets the best mileage, an EPA-rated 29 mpg city, 33 highway, 31 combined, while the 1.2-liter gets 28/31/29 mpg. The 1.3-liter with all-wheel drive gets 26/30/28 mpg.

As for crash tests, the NHTSA gives it four stars overall, with four stars in rollover, four stars in the front passenger-side crash test, and five stars in side crashes. The IIHS hasn’t tested it yet. On all but the L model, you can get adaptive cruise control, rear park assist, and blind-spot monitors.

Model Lineup

The new Trailblazer comes in L, LS, LT, Activ, and RS trims.

The L model starts under $20,000. It comes as front-wheel drive with the 1.2-liter turbo-3 and CVT. In addition to the standard safety equipment, it comes with cloth upholstery, power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, wi-fi hotspot, two USB ports and 16-inch wheels.

The LT allows a choice between the 1.2-liter or 1.3-liter with the CVT in front-wheel drive. For $26,695 you can get all-wheel drive with the 1.3-liter engine and a smooth 9-speed automatic. It adds larger 17-inch black wheels, keyless start, heated front seats, tinted rear windows, heated side mirrors, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

The $26,495 Activ comes with two-tone paint (a different color for the roof), 17-inch Hankook Sport Terrain tires, adaptive dampers, and a skid plate.

The RS is the same price as the Activ, but looks sporty instead of off-roady, with black 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, leather shift knob, rear center armrest, and LED taillamps.

Upgrade options such as a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, synthetic leather seats, heated front seats, and adaptive cruise control are available on the LT and higher trims.

All 2021 Trailblazers come with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, and the first scheduled maintenance is free.

Exterior

Like its big brother the Blazer, the Chevy Trailblazer sheds the dull skins of the other three Chevy SUVs. With black cladding all the way around the vehicle, and a steep upright nose, it has the brawny looks of a truck. Rounded arches house wheels of 16, 17 or 18 inches, depending on the model.

Interior

The baby Blazer style moves into the cabin, with a black-on-black dash, plastic chrome, and an attractive center stack with vents as a top hat, and a neat storage pocket for phones at the bottom. There’s also a small shelf above the glove box, seat back pockets, and large cup holders in the doors.

The cloth seat bottoms in front are a bit short, but the 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat on upper trims helps to provide good support. The passenger will have a more difficult time finding comfort, with four-way manual adjustment.

The rear seats can be thin, and five adults are squeezed, but there’s ample head room and nearly 40 inches of leg room, same as the larger Blazer.

The Trailblazer has one of the largest cargo areas in the small crossover class, with 25 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 rear seat, expanding to 54 cubic feet when it’s folded. And the packaging in the cargo hold is clever, with removable sides that allow long things like golf clubs to fit sideways. A two-tiered storage floor can be raised about three inches to create a flat load floor with the seats folded.

Driving Impressions

Performance isn’t the Trailblazer’s calling card. The 1.3-liter makes 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, which feels like more because that torque comes at a low 1,600 rpm, and also the sweet 9-speed automatic transmission that effortlessly delivers the modest power. There is enough early thrust to win a drag race from an on-ramp stoplight against an unsuspecting bigger SUV, but the 0-60 mph time is nearly 10 seconds.

That 1.3-liter engine is available in the LT with front-wheel drive and the CVT, but the same engine comes with all-wheel drive and the 9-speed automatic, for not that much more money.

The refined 9-speed shifts almost unnoticeably. There is a Sport mode that makes the transmission upshift at higher rpm, but it seems to know when you don’t need that, and it’s content to mosey up a hill instead of charging it. The all-wheel-drive system is selected with a knob, so it can be used only when needed. When it’s in AWD, torque shifts to the rear wheels at low speeds for better traction on slick roads or muddy trails. Ground clearance increases from seven to eight inches on all-wheel-drive models.

The Trailblazer’s responsive steering might suggest you can push it around corners like a sporty hatchback, but its softer ride means that will generate a lot of body lean.

Final Word

The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer reinvents an old name in a sporty urban-sized hatchback with available all-wheel drive. The low price is tempting for those who want a small crossover that looks cool. We recommend the 1.3-liter engine with the sweet 9-speed and all-wheel drive.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection