Chevy’s seventh SUV offering for the U.S. market looks lost in the mix without any standout features

Chevrolet has revived an age-old moniker and added to its already crowded lineup. The Trailblazer has returned into the fold after a 12-year hiatus to slot itself between the little Trax and the larger Equinox.

The Trailblazer will be the seventh SUV that Chevy has to offer to the U.S. market. It will sit alongside the Trax, Equinox, Blazer, Traverse, Tahoe, and Suburban. The six existing SUVs cover all the bases that a customer looks for when buying a vehicle; so, what was the point of launching the Trailblazer? It was touted to replace the Trax in the lineup, but the latter did quite well in 2019.

Overview

Chevy Teases New Trailblazer and Tracker; Proves The Company Only Knows How to Copy and Paste Designs
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At the 2019 Shanghai Motor Show, Chevy decided to tease the reincarnation of two nameplates from the vault – Tracker and TrailBlazer.

People from the previous millennium may remember the Chevy Tracker as the Geo Tracker. Geo was a subdivision of Chevrolet from 1989 to 1997 before it was integrated into Chevrolet.

The Geo Tracker was the lovechild of Suzuki and GM. Post-marriage, the Tracker dropped the Geo prefix and was sold with a bowtie on the hood. In 2004, however, the Tracker was replaced by the Equinox, which continues to sell to this day.

The TrailBlazer, on the other hand, was initially launched as a trim of the Blazer SUV back in 1999. It took just three years for this trim to have its own spin-off version, but lived just for seven years.

In 2009, the TrailBlazer was retired in the U.S. even though the badge still lives in some countries. The TrailBlazer was replaced by the Traverse that year. Fast forward to 2019, Chevy has finally decided to reincarnate it, although this time with the non-capitalized ’B’ in Trailblazer. Is it as worthy and credible as the yesteryear moniker?

What Does The Chevrolet Trailblazer Look Like?

  • Shrunken Blazer At The Onset
  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Lexus-esque Grille
  • Smart-Looking 18-inch, Gloss Black Wheels On The Top-Trim
  • Headlights Placed Lower Than The Conventional Positioning
  • Fully-Functional Dual Circular Exhausts
  • Cleverly Placed Rear Reflectors Look Swell
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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Even though the crossover sure seems weak on paper and can be rendered a useless addition to the lineup, there’s no denying that it looks stunning on the outside.

The styling is not subtle by any means. In simple words, this is a shrunken Blazer SUV. Up front, it looks unconventional and futuristic. The Trailblazer shares a lot of design cues with the Camaro. The headlight setup is also similar to that of the Hyundai Venue. Chevy has installed LED Daytime Running Lights where conventional headlights are generally housed. The slim demeanour looks swell and the DRLs are quite bright even under strong sunlight.

Below this are the headlights resting in a trapezoidal cluster. They’re flanked by vent-like hollow shapes underneath that look sweet, but make the front fascia look quite busy. The third layer of lights, the fog lights, sit in a slim, independent cluster below. The grille is a massive unit that starts at the tip of the hood and extends all the way down. The shape is reminiscent of the Lexus grille, only a little less gaudy. As for the hood, it is a near-flat piece of metal with a very subtle line in the center that fades away as it heads towards the windshield.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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The Trailblazer will be offered in five trims – L, LS, LT, Activ, and RS – and each of them features a different design.

The LT comes with thick vertical slats, the Activ with egg-crate like details, and the top trim RS with a honeycomb design. Fortunately, all these are finished in different shades of black instead of chrome. There is a chrome strip (except for the RS) that creeps out from the DRL cluster and swoops onto the other side. The bowtie logo sits above this strip. The piano black finish on the RS looks the best, whereas the Activ with the chrome faux skid plate looks the most attention-greedy. Overall, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer wears a handsome face and it won’t have many haters out there.

The side profile of the 2021 Trailblazer is also quite smart. All the trims receive a black cladding treatment on the side skirts and the wheel arches. There is no badging here whatsoever.
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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The A- and B-pillars are blacked out, whereas, on the top RS trim, even the roof and wing mirrors receive this treatment. The doors are plain-Jane except for two belt lines on the doors that start on the fender. One extends horizontally to the taillights, while the other curves downwards and meets the rear wheel arch. The two-tone roof slopes down at the rear, but not so much to hinder the rear passengers’ headroom. It comes with roof-rails as well as a sunroof. The RS trim receives hot 18-inch, machined aluminum, gloss black wheels. I’d have preferred if the calipers were painted in red on this trim at least. Although the 18-inch wheels are not small, it feels like the crossover could do with bigger 19-inch or even 20-inch wheels.

The derriere of the 2021 Trailblazer looks odd initially.

The windshield is raked and receives a spoiler at the top. However, the body extends outwards on either side from the taillights. The bloated look may draw polarizing opinions. That makes the tailgate look massive and has a lot of cuts and creases. Below the tailgate is a big space to accommodate the license plate. On the corners here, Chevy has mounted vertical slot reflectors. These look pretty swell. The black plastic cladding continues from the sides to the bottom at the rear as well.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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The center portion is formed like a skid plate that looks el-cheapo!

There is a space to house the rear fog light, but it is conspicuous by its absence. The circular exhausts look alright, but somehow don’t feel at home with the overall persona of the crossover. All in all, the 2021 Trailblazer commands a strong road presence and looks handsome for a crossover at this price-point.

Chevrolet Trailblazer Interior And Technology

  • Top RS trim Features A Flat-Bottomed Steering Wheel
  • Instrument Cluster Looks Dated
  • Seats Wrapped In Leatherette With Contrast Stitching
  • Seven-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System
  • Supports Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear Seats Split In 40:60 Ratio
  • Decent List Of Standard Safety Features
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Interior
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Step inside the 2021 Trailblazer and you’ll be welcomed to a not-so-spacious cabin. It is not cumbersome, but it isn’t heavy on space either.

The fit and finish is good as per segment standards, but there are hard plastics in some places and they don’t feel very premium. The RS-exclusive flat-bottomed steering wheel is a delight to hold. It is meaty, comes with thumb contours, and is wrapped in perforated leather. The flat-bottom area is finished in glossy black. It features a lot of buttons, but they sit neatly, so it doesn’t feel very crowded.

But, sadly, all the good things end here on the Trailblazer. Although this is a “2021” model-year crossover, the instrument cluster looks dated. The tachometer and speedometer are boring and do not entice any excitement for the driver. They get their individual cowls along with one common cowl at the top. A digital MID screen finds itself sitting in between both these meters.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Interior
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The Trailblazer follows an all-black theme on the inside, save for a few touches of the body shade in places like AC vents and the sides of the gearbox console. The top of the dash is made up of hard plastic, but the lower area is slightly soft.

It looks like leather with contrast stitching, but it isn’t; leatherette, perhaps? There is small storage area on the passenger side that can’t store anything more than a few coins or chocolate bars. The seats have sufficient bolstering and are comfortable in the front and back, and use the leatherette material with red contrast stitching, like the one above the passenger side glove box. There is an armrest with deep storage underneath it.

The rear, however, seems claustrophobic, thanks to the thick C-pillar and black interiors.

The seats are reclined at a comfortable angle and there’s enough headroom despite the sloping roofline. With that said, three people in the backseat will be a tight squeeze. There is enough headroom and legroom, but not so much shoulder room. Coming back to the cargo area, Chevy has designed it well with a comfortable loading angle and a flat loading lip. The seats can be split in 40:60 ratio, and come with ISOFIX mounts. The SUV uses a shelf system to raise the boot floor so it creates a flatbed with the rear seats folded down.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Interior
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There is no official word on the size of the touchscreen infotainment system, but it seems to be a seven-inch unit. It runs on the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system that features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Chevy also offers a wireless charging pad on the crossover. In terms of safety, the crossover comes with:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Front Pedestrian Braking
  • Rear Vision Camera
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Change and Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Rear Park Assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

What Kind Of Drivetrain And Performance Does The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Have?

  • 1.2-liter, Three-Cylinder, Turbocharged Engine
  • 137 Horsepower
  • 162 Pound-Feet Of Torque
  • Mated To A CVT
  • 1.3-liter, Three-Cylinder Turbocharged Mill
  • 155 Horsepower
  • 174 Pound-Feet Of Torque
  • Mated To A Nine-Speed Automatic Gearbox
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer will be offered with two engine options to choose from. The engines are borrowed from the Buick Encore GX.

The base L, LS, and LT trims will come with a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine that makes 137 horses and 162 pound-feet of torque. Yes, you read it right - a measly three-cylinder engine. To make matters worse, power is sent to the front wheels via a lousy CVT. The other one is a three-cylinder engine, although slightly more powerful – a 1.3-liter, turbocharged mill that doles out 155 horses and 174 pound-feet of torque. Fortunately, this mill comes in all-wheel-drive configuration and is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Chevrolet hasn’t announced the fuel economy figures yet, but in the Buick, it returns 31 miles per gallon combined. Even the performance specs like top speed, 0-60 mph, are not yet revealed.

Engine 1.2-liter, three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.3-liter, turbocharged
Horsepower 137 HP 155 HP
Torque 162 LB-FT 174 LB-FT
Although the mill is turbocharged, no amount of extra horses or additional equipment can hide the thrums and vibrations of a three-pot mill.

No matter how insulated the cabin is and how refined the three-cylinder engine is, there will be a vibration when turning on or off the car, or pace it up over 80 mph. You will also find the engine to be struggling at higher speeds. The only major advantage is the impressive fuel economy on these engines. As for the CVTs, they are known for their butter-smooth shifts, good urban drivability, and great suitability for light-footed drivers.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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However, they suffer from a terrible “rubber band effect”. If you are a spirited driver, CVTs shouldn’t be your pick. However, if you want a car just to pot around town at urban speeds and have no intentions of revving it hard, then it will fit your bill. Hence, my pick would be the larger engine with an all-wheel-drive configuration mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

How Much Does The Chevrolet Trailblazer Cost?

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer will start a notch under $20,000 and go all the way up to $26,395. Chevy had earlier announced a sub-$20,000 price and it’s good to see it stuck to its promise. The prices for all the trims are as follows:

  • L: $19,995
  • LS: $22,495
  • LT: $24,595
  • Activ: $26,395
  • RS: $26,395

The Activ and RS are priced the same, but the former is designed as Trailblazer’s off-road-oriented trim featuring a larger grille, Hankook Sport Terrain tires, and tuned dampers. The RS, on the other hand, is the top-of-the-line trim and looks sporty but comes with the best features that Chevy has to offer on this reinvigorated nameplate.

The L, LS, and LT trims come with the smaller 1.2-liter mill, whereas the Activ and RS will be powered by the bigger 1.3-liter mill. When opting for any of the base three trims, customers can shell out $2,000 extra and get the bigger engine with the all-wheel-drive configuration. For the Activ and RS trims, you can pay $1,500 and get the all-wheel-drive.

Chevrolet Trailblazer Competition

Ford Escape

Every Compact Crossover SUV (Ranked From Worst to Best)
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The Escape is one of the most value-for-money propositions you can have under $30,000. Unlike the Trailblazer, Ford is offering the Escape with three drivetrain options – that include a three-cylinder turbo, a four-cylinder turbo, and a hybrid – to choose from. The Escape may not be the smartest one out there, but it looks neutral and you won’t find any haters. In terms of specs, well, it’s a Ford. The base and lower trims are almost barebones, whereas the top trims come with all bells and whistles one can ask for. The cabin is spacious, but the seats are not too comfortable. So, it’s a mixed bag on the inside. Al in all, the Escape is a well-rounded package that has covered almost all the bases during its trim segregation. The Ford Escape starts at $24,885 and tops out at $36,685.

Read our full review on the Ford Escape

Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback
- image 836343

The Outback is a phenomenal product that mixes the car and crossover concepts very well, and it’s not a wagon. It mixes the best of both the worlds while looking tough and handsome. The Outback is rugged and apart from being a city commuter, it also makes for a perfect partner for your outdoor activity.

The Outback also boasts a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, and thanks to the well-tuned suspensions, it can be taken over treacherous passages with ease. On the inside, it comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, moonroof, and power tailgate. Under the hood, the Outback is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horses and 176 pound-feet of torque as standard. The Subaru Outback comes with a starting sticker price of $26,645.

Read our full review on the 2020 Subaru Outback

Nissan Rogue

2019 Nissan Rogue - Driven
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Unlike its name, the Rogue is actually a straight-forward, no-nonsense crossover that knows its duties and does them well. The looks may not be to everyone’s liking, but the Rogue still maintains a strong presence on the road. It comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder mill under the hood that makes 170 ponies and 175 pound-feet of torque. It’s available in a hybrid avatar as well.

Nissan also offers the Rogue with an all-wheel-drive setup on every trim. To make it even more utilitarian, Nissan has also provided a pass-through in the backseats which helps you use the cabin space without having to flip the seats. As for the feature list, it includes stuff like a seven-inch touchscreen, moon roof, etc. You can also get yourself a surround-view camera system on the higher trims to help you maneuver through tight spaces. Nissan has priced the Rogue from $25,300.

Read our full review on the 2020 Nissan Rogue

Final Thoughts

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Exterior
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Although the new crossover looks good, it doesn’t excel in any department or distinguishes itself from the others. We don’t understand the point of getting this SUV back. In a time when companies are adopting newer design philosophies while maintaining their signature styling at the core, GM is lazily tweaking its products a bit and selling them by slapping badges with nostalgic factor.

In all likelihood, the new Trailblazer will be dead on arrival, unless Chevy plonks in an electric powertrain in here in the future. The company recently announced an investment of $2.2 billion into the Detroit-Hamtramck plant so that it can build its electric pickups there by the end of 2021.

Who says the Trailblazer cannot draw benefit from it? The only other logical explanation would be to spoil the customers for choices. As long as the customer stays in the same showroom, Chevy won’t care if it’s eating up from the sales of its other SUVs.

It looks like the Trailblazer will wind up taking a small share from the Trax and the Equinox and fill its quota of sales. So, where does this leave the Trailblazer? This will be a huge conundrum for the sales executives to pitch the crossover when it launches to customers who will be equally perplexed.

  • Leave it
    • Why Should One Even Buy This?
    • Three-Cylinder Engine Will Be A Disaster For Spirited Driving
    • CVT Transmission Needs To Be Caressed Lightly
    • No Standout Features
Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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