When the first-generation Chevy Trailblazer hit dealer lots in 2001, it was a mid-size SUV to replace the smaller S-10 Blazer and give buyers a smaller alternative to the full-size Tahoe and Suburban. The nameplate then died off in 2009, to be replaced by the Traverse crossover. Now, this 2021 Trailblazer is moving in the opposite direction, reviving the nameplate as a small crossover between the tiny Trax and the Equinox. Weirdly, despite its larger form factor over the Trax, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer actually costs less, with prices starting under $20,000.
Depending on exactly what “under $20,000” means, the Trailblazer could actually undercut the Trax by at least $1,300.
For that money, you get a compact-ish crossover with mini-Blazer styling. Rather than a six-cylinder engine or a big old-fashioned V8 you got in the old SUV, this has practically microscopic three-cylinder engine options. It shares its 1.2-liter and 1.3-liter engines with the upcoming Buick Encore GX, as it fills the same market space. The smaller engine and front-wheel drive 1.3-liter version come mated to a continuously variable transmission. The all-wheel drive 1.3-liter Trailblazer, however, comes with a nine-speed automatic instead.
So far as power is concerned, the 1.2-liter engine manages 137 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. The torque level is a bit beefier than the Trax, but bear in mind this is a physically larger car. The 1.3-liter unit makes 155 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, which does handily beat the 1.4-liter four-cylinder mill in the current Trax.
Standard safety equipment
All 2021 Chevy Trailblazer models get a range of standard driver assistance tech, as the technology is more prevalent even in smaller, value-minded models. Things like forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking come standard, as does automatic high beam assist, lane keep assist, and a rear seat reminder feature. Adaptive cruise control, rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are options.
ACTIV “tuned for off-road use”
Among the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer trims is the ACTIV (yes, the name is in all-caps). Chevy means this trim as more of an off-road tuned model, though they specifically refer to gravel roads when talking about its unique shock tuning. It also rides on 17-inch wheels and Hankook Sport Terrain tires, so this car likely won’t take on any extreme off-roading. As with the new midsize Blazer, true off-roading SUV the Trailblazer is not.
That said, properly equipped Trailblazers do have the same selectable all-wheel drive system as the Blazer and the Traverse. It allows the driver to select full-time AWD when conditions call for it, or keep the car exclusively in front-wheel drive mode for better fuel economy.
2021 Chevy Trailblazer RS – The sporty one
While the Trailblazer ACTIV is meant for rugged adventurous types, the RS is the sporty-looking trim. The changes mainly come down to aesthetics, with the RS sporting a black bowtie and a different two-tone paint scheme.
Whichever Trailblazer you choose, it is a fairly practical crossover for its size. With the seats folded, the overall cargo capacity is 54.4 cubic feet — roughly six cubic feet more than the Trax. Chevrolet says you can also fit objects up to 8.5 feet long with the rear seats and front passenger seat folded.
An exact pricing breakdown isn’t available yet, but Chevy dealers should have models in stock in Spring 2020.