GM is clearly back to its rebadging ways.
General Motors made a big splash to close out the month of May as it revealed two all-new crossovers on the same day. Neither came as a major surprise but we were a bit shocked to see both revealed at nearly the same time. Chevrolet introduced the new 2021 Trailblazer, which now sits between the Trax and Equinox in the lineup. Buick released the 2020 Encore GX, a formerly China-only model, which sits above the Encore and below the Envision.
Have fun guessing why the Trailblazer is a 2021 model and the Encore GX is a 2020 because we honestly don't know. What we do know, thanks to a spokesperson from Chevy, is that both of these new models ride on the same platform - GM's global small SUV platform. So, who wore it better? Chevy or Buick?
Styling is somewhat subjective but based on the few shots we've seen of both cars (Chevy only released a single image of the Trailblazer), we'd give the design edge to Buick. The Encore GX has a more classic, upscale vibe and we think the red accents in the grille give it an ounce of flavor without going overboard. We think the Trailblazer is too juvenile in its design, with too many sharp edges and contrasting colors. The two-tone paint scheme is interesting but the plastic fenders add an air of cheapness. It would be nice to see the rear styling of the Trailblazer but for now, the Encore GX takes the win.
The interiors of the Trailblazer and Encore GX are relatively similar but in this category, the Chevy clearly looks more aggressive. Perhaps it is the sporty black and red color scheme chosen by Chevy versus the 'retirement community' beige used by Buick, but we prefer the Trailblazer's interior. The Encore GX does have a head-up display but we like the flat-bottom steering wheel in the Trailblazer as well as the red accents around the cabin. We give the win to the Trailblazer here.
Both the Trailblazer and Encore GX sit directly above the smallest SUVs in their respective ranges - the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore. Both of these new models look like huge improvements over their smaller counterparts in terms of styling. We'll have to wait to see if these new SUVs will use the same engines as the Trax and Encore, or if they will receive larger and more powerful motors. Buick has already said the GX offers five-cubic feet of storage space more than the smaller Encore and the Trailblazer should offer similar gains compared to the Trax. Both can be considered improvements over their smaller siblings, so this category ends as a tie.
In terms of naming, neither car comes out as a total winner. Buick loses points for lacking creativity with the Encore GX's name and the Chevy misses the mark because this new Trailblazer is nothing like the previous model. The old Trailblazer was a large SUV which could even be optioned with a 400-horsepower LS2 V8 from the Corvette in the SS trim. We were expecting the new Trailblazer to be a body-on-frame rival to the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner but instead we got yet another subcompact crossover. This round goes to the Buick, making it the overall winner in our opinion.
Next, we wonder what other models will be based on the global small SUV platform. Perhaps GMC can bring back the Jimmy and Cadillac can have its own version called the XT3.