2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Review: A Crossover With Charm

by Deiondre van der Merwe

Trying to be the best affordable crossover in the US is about as easy as discovering how Ted met Luke and Leia's mother within a reasonable time frame, but the Chevrolet Trailblazer comes prepared. Is it the most thrilling offering on the market? Probably not. But what it does manage to offer is an abundance of space and sassy styling, along with a new platform shared with the Buick Encore GX. Of course, when you're up against an American favorite like the Honda HR-V and excellent bang for your buck from the Kia Seltos, the battle is bound to be a tough one. The Chevy Trailblazer offers two engine options, with the most powerful 1.3-liter turbo producing 155 horsepower. The standard CVT transmission ensures that fuel bills stay low, and the overall charm of the Trailblazer may just be enough to win over the budget-focused subcompact shopper.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Trailblazer?

As an all-new model for this year, the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer slots in between the Chevy Trax and the Blazer, but with a lower price than either. The nameplate has been revived from the archives, this time in the form of a smaller crossover after the automaker gave the old Trailblazer SUV the ax for the USA back in 2009. Everything about this Chevy is brand new, including the platform it has in common with the Buick Encore GX.

Pros and Cons

  • Attractive exterior styling
  • Available choice between FWD and AWD
  • Simple but impressive interior
  • Engines are fuel-efficient
  • Underpowered engines
  • Bare-bones base model
  • Ride quality could be better

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$19,000
LS
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
1.3-liter Inline-3 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$21,600
LT
1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas
1.3-liter Inline-3 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$23,700
ACTIV
1.3-liter Inline-3 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,500
RS
1.3-liter Inline-3 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,500

Trailblazer Exterior

The new Chevy Trailblazer is a sharply styled little box that manages to be more attractive than we'd all been expecting. Still, if you were near-sighted and forgot your glasses at home, the Chevy would bear a keen resemblance to the Kia Seltos, or an even closer one to the Hyundai Venue. That may not be such a bad thing given that its Korean counterparts are undeniably stylish. Slim halogen headlights are standard across all specs, though LED options are optionally available on the Activ and RS trims. The two highest trims also have LED taillights as standard. The cheapest Trailblazer rests on 16-inch wheels and all other trims except for the RS get 17-inch wheels. The apex trim gets upgraded with 18-inch aluminum wheels. The RS is also equipped with sportier styling and black embellished trim and badges. The Activ, meanwhile, is differentiated by standard roof rails.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Frontal Aspect Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Aft View Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Rear-Facing View Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Trailblazer is slightly bigger than both the HR-V and the Seltos in terms of exterior dimensions and has a maximum length measurement of 173.5 inches, while the Activ and RS trims add a further 0.2 inches. As for width, all models stretch 71.2 inches from side to side. FWD models stand at 65.2 inches from the ground up while AWD versions are slightly taller at 65.7 inches. The FWD RS is 65.3 inches tall. The lightest configuration would be the FWD LS trim that weighs in at 3,014 pounds, and the heaviest version is the AWD RS with a curb weight of 3,289 lbs. Ground clearances vary with the L managing seven inches and the AWD RS boasting an eight-inch clearance.

  • Length 173.5 in
  • Wheelbase 103.9 in
  • Height 64.8 in
  • Max Width 71.2 in
  • Front Width 61.2 in
  • Rear Width 61.3 in

Exterior Colors

Chevrolet makes a total of ten colors available for the Trailblazer, though some trims get specific access to some hues that others do not. The base L spec is only available in Summit White, while the LS adds plenty of metallic shades. These include understated shades like Dark Copper, Mosaic Black, and Satin Steel. For the bold, Scarlet Red, Midnight Blue and Pacific Blue should do the trick, while Iridescent Pearl Tricoat is a $645 option. The LT gets the same palette as the LS, while the Activ adds Zeus Bronze to the mix. Notably, this trim loses access to Scarlet Red and Pacific Blue. The RS has the least colors to choose from aside from the base model, but makes Oasis Blue exclusively available. For the Activ, Summit White and Zeus Bronze metallic top colors can be selected for a two-tone color combination, though the latter can only be had with the Summit White body color. Only the RS can have the roof hued in Mosaic Black and Scarlet Red. It's worth noting that you can't opt for a Scarlet Red roof with any other color except for Mosaic Black.

New Chevy Trailblazer Performance

The performance of the Trailblazer directly relates to its configuration, but still it's dependable regardless of the spec. The 1.2-liter turbo is only available on FWD models, and it's certainly adept at navigating the city. Both engines offer plenty of torque at lower speeds, which results in some temptation to put your foot down. The thing is, once your revs are up, your excitement will likely come down. These engines wheeze a little at the top end of things, and it's undeniable that this Chevy is slow by most measures. Once you get going, it also has a no fuss approach on the highway, making it a decent enough all-rounder, but chasing an unpublished top speed is not advised. The 1.3-liter turbo manages a 0 to 60 mph time of 9.4 seconds, according to independent testing, meaning the quicker of the available engines is by no means sporty - it's optional on the LS and LT, and standard on the Activ and RS. For those concerned with all-weather capability, the Trailblazer is available in AWD configuration on all but the base model, automatically equipping the 1.3-liter engine. Correctly-equipped Trailblazers can tow up to 1,000 lbs.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Frontal Aspect 1 Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Side Perspective Driving Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Rim Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

Chevrolet's lineup for the Trailblazer range of vehicles makes two engines available along with two transmissions. The configurations vary according to trim, and certain specs are exclusively available with specific setups. Both the L and the LS come standard with the base 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 137 hp and 162 lb-ft and is mated to a CVT, while the LT makes the 1.3-liter available. However, the latter trim doesn't offer the nine-speed automatic transmission as an option for the engine. Activ and RS models are exclusively available with the 1.3-liter turbo and the CVT as standard, though opting for AWD will add the nine-speed automatic transmission to the configuration by default. The 1.3-liter turbo produces 155 hp and 174 lb-ft. A slight hint of turbo lag accompanies both engines, but the mid-range torque is decent enough to feel punchy. The nine-speed 'box shifts neatly and doesn't protest much when you need to get to a lower gear. The CVT is also relatively well-behaved at higher speeds and responds with enough enthusiasm to lighter taps on the accelerator pedal. Both engines are three-cylinder items as found in the Buick Encore GX.

  • Engines
    1.2-liter Inline-3 Gas, 1.3-liter Inline-3 Gas, 1.3-liter Turbo
  • Transmissions
    9-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Chevy Trailblazer is not an athletic car by any means, but it'll handle a twisty road relatively well without any sudden movements to scare it. The peace offering for obvious body roll is usually comfortable ride quality, but the crossover doesn't precisely provide plushness either. That said, the little SUV does what it needs to, even if it doesn't strive for perfection. It's not truly bad at anything, and though ride quality is not the best we've experienced, it still manages to be comfortable enough for daily driving without complaints. The traditional McPherson suspension allows the Trailblazer to soak up enough road imperfections to avoid any real discomfort, and it'll handle the road less traveled bravely. One gripe worth noting is cabin noise that you won't find in the Seltos; you can easily hear a gust of wind and the soundtrack of the tires. As for steering, we wouldn't go into a turn with too much confidence as we have some trust issues with the electrically-assisted steering. The steering wheel is light and road feedback is on an indefinite holiday. It has its flaws, but it'll treat its driver well if you respect its boundaries.

Trailblazer Gas Mileage

Gas mileage figures vary slightly according to engine and drivetrain configurations, but for the most part, frugal fuel economy is something the Trailblazer does well. The most frugal of the lot is the 1.3-liter turbo hooked up to the CVT and FWD, returning EPA estimates of 29/33/31 mpg - slightly better than the Honda HR-V's 28/34/30 mpg figures. Opting for the 1.2-liter turbo drops the figures down to 28/31/29 mpg. The worst performer is still impressive, the AWD-spec with the 1.3-liter engine and the nine-speed auto returns figures of 26/30/28 mpg. When the 13.2-gallon is full, you can expect just over 400 miles from the lightest option and around 370 miles from the heaviest.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 28/31 mpg
* 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer L FWD

Trailblazer Interior

The cabin of the Trailblazer on higher trims is a pleasant surprise. It's delightfully simple and well laid out, and the evidence of discounted materials is not enough to make it a bad place to spend your time. It has the upper hand against the HR-V and manages to utilize plastics creatively enough to negate the feeling that you're sitting in your kid's Tupperware lunchbox. It falls behind the Kia Seltos in this regard, but most options in this segment do, so that's not a downside that's unique to the Chevy. The combination of function and space displayed through cheeky design makes the interior a winner in our books.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Dashboard Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Steering Wheel Details Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Control Panel Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The inside of the Trailblazer is spacious enough for a small family to get by comfortably. It falls just behind the HR-V by a few measurements, but it offers an abundance of space both in the front and the rear. The Seltos provides slightly more room in the front, but not by a large enough margin to influence purchasing decisions. A six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat is standard on the first two trims, while ten-way power-adjustable seats are standard from the LT upwards. Heated front seats are also stock from this trim. Seating in the front and the rear offers enough comfort and support for longer journeys, and those in the rear will appreciate the 39.4 inches of legroom.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Front Head Room 40.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.4 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Cheap plastics are liberally used for the inside of the Trailblazer, though inventive design means it doesn't look bad. Chevrolet also makes quite a few upholstery options available, though true variety only exists on higher trims. For the L, Jet Black cloth upholstery is all you get, but the material is decent and durable. The LS adds a combination of Jet Black and Medium Ash Grey upholstery to the list. Both of these options are available as standard for the LT, but leatherette upholstery options in the same colors are additionally available. The Activ makes two Jet Black combinations with either Almond Butter or Arizona accents as standard. The RS is available exclusively with Jet Black leatherette and cloth upholstery with red accents.

Trailblazer Trunk and Cargo Space

Trunk space is a measure by which the Trailblazer falls behind its main rivals, offering slightly more space than the HR-V behind the second row but offering way less than the Honda and the Kia Seltos in measurements with the seats folded down. The Trailblazer packs in 25.3 cubic feet behind its second row, slightly more than the HR-V's 24.3 cubes. With all seats folded, 54.4 cubes become available for larger cargo items. Unfortunately, this is less than the HR-V's 58.8 cubic feet and vastly behind the Kia's 62.8 cubes. But the passenger seat does fold flat to accommodate longer items in a pinch. As for in-cabin storage, slim door pockets will hold the expected amount of small items needed daily, while a large glove compartment can handle a bit more. Two cupholders are also standard in the front.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Trunk Space Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Trunk Space with Seat Folded Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Maximum Trunk Space Chevrolet

Trailblazer Infotainment and Features

Features

The Trailblazer is not a vehicle stacked to the rafters with standard comfort features at the base level, but things greatly improve as you move up the trim ladder. The Trailblazer's biggest advantage is that standard safety features are impressive on all models, thanks to the standard inclusion of Chevy Safety Assist. The suite comprises automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, a following distance indicator, and lane keep assist with departure warning. In terms of convenience features, the L starts things off with a multifunctional steering wheel, a driver's seat that adjusts six ways manually, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Air conditioning and a rearview camera are also standard. There's not much of a change to the features list when we move to the LS. Moving up to the LT, however, adds quite a few, including remote start, keyless entry, power adjustment on the driver's seat, heated front seats, and cruise control. Activ and RS models are equipped with a leather-clad steering wheel, a leather shift knob, and a rear-seat center armrest.

Infotainment

The Trailblazer's standard infotainment is on par with rivals, with clear graphics and images, although optional extras improve it quite a bit. At base-level, a seven-inch touchscreen enables wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Bluetooth streaming, AM/FM radio, and two USB ports. The L is the only spec that gets a four-speaker sound system, with a standard six-speaker setup included after that. LT, Activ, and RS models get the option of an eight-inch touchscreen with SiriusXM and HD Radio functionality, but opting for the Technology Package on the Activ and RS models equips a seven-speaker Bose sound system and an SD card reader for good measure.

Trailblazer Problems and Reliability

Certain Trailblazer vehicles for the current year have been affected by a recall once so far for an issue relating to missing tire pressure information; this pertains to those Trailblazers equipped with optional 17-inch sport terrain tires. Reliability ratings are hard to come by because the Trailblazer is brand new, but Chevrolet provides a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty for the Trailblazer, followed by a corrosion warranty that is valid for the same period. One scheduled maintenance visit is also complimentary within the first year. The drivetrain gets a five-year or 60-000-mile warranty, and roadside assistance is standard for five years or 60,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2021 Warranty \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Trailblazer Safety

The IIHS hasn't released any official safety ratings yet, but the NHTSA only gave the Trailblazer four out of five stars. It lost points on the front passenger side in the crash test and bagged a four-star score for the rollover test. We'll have to wait for the Chevy Trailblazer's review from the IIHS for further safety information.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Chevrolet pulled out all the stops for the Trailblazer in terms of safety and driver-assist features. A rearview camera is standard, and every model has a ten-airbag system that includes front, front knee, front and rear side-impact, and head-curtain airbags. The standard Chevy Safety Assist suite on all models includes forward collision alert, pedestrian braking, and lane keep assist with departure warning. An available Driver Confidence Package equips rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change alert with blind-spot monitoring.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer a good car?

It's always dangerous business reviving a famous model name, particularly when you restore a famous SUV's moniker as the smallest and cheapest crossover in your lineup. Look beyond the title, though, and the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is a good SUV. The only problem is, it manages to be good at everything, but it's not the best in any particular category. So while it does have its merits, it may just be in for a tough time with the competition. We'll give credit where it's due. Both powerplant choices are decent at low speeds, making city driving drama free, and the CVT does an excellent job of maintaining efficient fuel economy figures. Available AWD is nice, given that not all of its competitors offer the same. The Trailblazer also possesses a quality interior, though that opinion is largely based on higher trims. It may be function over form at the entry-level, but everything is well-placed and the tech is easy to use. The seating is particularly comfortable and spacious for a subcompact, and while the ride quality could be better, there's enough cushioning for the most part. The Trailblazer isn't truly bad in any aspect, but it lacks true uniqueness. It's still an affordable crossover worth looking at though, especially at its price.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV?

The Trailblazer has a base price that's slightly lower than rivals, starting at just $19,000 for the entry-level L spec. The LS comes standard with FWD at a cost of $21,600. In standard FWD guise, the LT costs $23,700, and the Activ jumps to $25,500. Opting for the top-level RS trim will set you back by $27,000. Equipping AWD is possible for all but the L. On models equipped with the 1.2L engine, AWD requires adding the 1.3L instead, with an overall cost of $2,000. On the LT 1.3L, AWD adds $540, while on the Activ and RS, you'll pay $1,500. All of these prices are exclusive of the $995 destination and handling fee.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Models

The 2021 Trailblazer range comprises five trims: L, LS, LT Activ, and RS. There are two engines to choose from in the range, the standard one at base level being a 1.2-liter mated to a CVT and the other being a 1.3-liter turbo paired to the same transmission. Opting for AWD means that you'll automatically get the 1.3-liter married to a nine-speed automatic.

The entry-level L spec rests on 16-inch steel wheels and comes equipped with a manually-adjustable driver's seat, a multifunctional steering wheel, and air conditioning. A seven-inch touchscreen features wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth streaming as well as AM/FM radio. Standard safety features are inclusive of forward collision alert, pedestrian braking, and lane keep assist with departure warning.

The LS adds 17-inch wheels and a six-speaker sound system, but not much else separates the two aside from menial accessories like carpeted floor mats and a few optional extras.

Moving on to the LT, we see a considerable improvement in features. This trim adds remote start, keyless entry, a power-adjustable driver's seat with ten settings, heated front seats, and cruise control.

The Activ gets a leather-clad steering wheel, a leather shift knob, and unique exterior styling in the form of 17-inch gloss black wheels and sport terrain tires as well as chrome-plated front and rear lower fascia.

As for the RS, the top-level trim gets an upgraded six-speaker sound system with an amplifier and 18-inch wheels. The exterior is upgraded with the addition of RS style bumpers with black trim and blacked out badges.

See All 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are a few available packages worth considering for the 2021 Trailblazer. Possibly the most important one is the Technology Package inclusive of adaptive cruise control, an eight-inch touchscreen, a premium Bose sound system, HD Radio, SiriusXM, an SD card reader, and an HD rearview camera. It also adds LED headlamps to the exterior. This package is only available on the Activ and RS trim for $1,620.

Next up is the Driver Confidence Package that adds lane change alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear park assist and rear cross-traffic alert for $345 on the L and $495 for the LS because it also adds cruise control to this trim. The Convenience Package, available from the LT, adds automatic climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen, and an auto-dimming mirror for $620. Lastly, the Sun and Liftgate does exactly what it says and adds a panoramic power sunroof and a hands-free liftgate for $1,770.

🚗What Chevrolet Trailblazer Model Should I Buy?

When buying a Trailblazer, the bare minimum requirements include the more powerful 1.3-liter engine. This immediately rules out the L and LS unless you want AWD on the latter. As such, we'd opt for the LT trim in FWD with the 1.3-liter engine, as it's the one with the most value for money. Add to this a few packages like the Driver Confidence Package and Convenience Package for less than $1,000 extra, all-in, and you've got a well-specced model inclusive of park assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic climate control, and the eight-inch infotainment suite. The added extras bring the cost up to $26,055, including destination.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Comparisons

Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet
Chevrolet Equinox Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Trailblazer137 hp28/31 mpg$19,000
Chevrolet Blazer 193 hp21/27 mpg$28,800
Chevrolet Equinox 170 hp26/31 mpg$23,800

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs Chevrolet Blazer

The new Chevy Trailblazer slots in well below the Blazer, and costs a lot less. The Blazer is a much larger and more attractive crossover in comparison, so the heavier price tag may just be worth it. Chevy sticks to its guns and offers a lackluster 2.5-liter engine for the Blazer, but the available 230-hp 2.0-liter turbo and 308-hp V6 do their part to make up for it. The Trailblazer doesn't even provide an engine that produces more than 155 hp, so if power is a primary concern, the Blazer is the way to go. The Blazer also has a better interior which is probably attributed to its larger price tag and offers more space, both in terms of passengers and cargo. Notably, the Blazer's fuel economy figures are nowhere near as impressive as its smaller, three-cylinder relative. The Blazer is the better choice for those who value true power and some extra luxury in terms of comfort and standard features. But if you don't need all the space, ability, and additional kit, the Trailblazer packs in enough of the necessities and niceties to make how much (or how little) you pay for it, entirely worth it.

See Chevrolet Blazer Review

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs Chevrolet Equinox

The Trailblazer manages to be substantially cheaper than the Equinox by about $4,000, though you wouldn't assume that based on appearances alone. The Trailblazer is undeniably the better looking of the two, but the Equinox is larger, classified as a compact SUV, and thus offers more space from the inside. Despite being significantly more affordable, the Trailblazer shares almost all of its safety features with Equinox. It's not difficult to be more powerful than the Trailblazer, and the Equinox dutifully delivers with two turbocharged engines, including a powerful 2.0-liter turbo that punches out 252 hp to drag the extra weight around. It also offers more trunk space, with 29.9 cubic feet on offer in comparison to the Trailblazer's 25.3 cubes. Despite the Trailblazer being cheaper and more frugal in terms of fuel economy, most shoppers will opt for the Equinox's spacious interior and powerful engine options.

See Chevrolet Equinox Review

Chevrolet Trailblazer Popular Comparisons

$19,000 - $27,000
Price Range (MSRP)
Chevrolet Trailblazer