What Is It?
More than 10 years have passed since Chevrolet sold a Trailblazer — and now the nameplate returns, worn by a stylish small crossover new to the Chevy lineup. Slotted between the Trax and Equinox, the Trailblazer is available in a variety of trim levels with front- or all-wheel drive. We had the opportunity to spend time in the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV — a variant that has more adventurous looks as well as equipment to enhance its off-pavement capabilities.
Chevrolet provided a 2021 Trailblazer ACTIV AWD painted in two-tone Mosaic Black Metallic with a Zeus Bronze Metallic roof. Our test vehicle featured several additional options, including a power hands-free liftgate, a sunroof, a Technology Package, a Convenience Package and a Driver Confidence Package for a total MSRP of $32,350. The Trailblazer competes the extremely popular (and crowded) small crossover segment that includes the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos, Ford Escape and Jeep Renegade.
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer incorporates much of the exterior styling introduced on the new Blazer, most noticeably in the front end. Slim LED running lights flank the upper section of the grille, while larger LED headlights are positioned below. Small LED fog lights add to the signature look.
The ACTIV trim of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer gets differentiated from the rest of the lineup with sport terrain tires, a functional skidplate, a two-tone paint scheme and 17-inch high-gloss black machined wheels. At the rear, stylish LED lights and dual chrome exhaust outlets integrate with the rear fascia.
Under the Hood
A 1.3-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque powers the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV. That energy gets transferred to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. Even though the 3-cylinder engine doesn’t generate a lot of power, it does offer reasonable fuel efficiency with U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings of 26 mpg city / 30 mpg highway. During our time in the Trailblazer the trip computer registered a bit over 20 mpg.
Designers did a fine job with the interior styling of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV. Contrasting stitching, piano-black trim, attractive denimlike cloth and bronze accents give the crossover a premium appearance. A large display screen integrates well with the dashboard and offers user-friendly navigation as well as a physical button for Home. Up front in the center console are USB-A and USB-C ports as well as a cellphone charging pad. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can be connected wirelessly — a welcome feature.
The front seats of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV look stylish with leatherette trim and appreciable side bolsters; however, short seat bottoms make it difficult for occupants to find comfortable seating position.
Despite being such a small crossover, the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV offers a surprisingly roomy rear seat that has plenty of legroom and headroom; an optional panoramic sunroof adds to the spacious feeling. Unfortunately the seats themselves are stiff, which can fatigue passengers during a long rides. Rear-seat occupants will appreciate the USB-A and USB-C ports, as well as a standard 110-volt outlet.
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer offers a spacious cargo area with plenty of room for multiple pieces of luggage or larger cargo. Rear seats easily fold flat to provide considerable additional space. As with many small crossovers, the Trailblazer’s hatch can be opened by sweeping a foot under the rear bumper. On many vehicles with this feature, finding the exact “swipe spot” below the bumper can be difficult. Chevrolet solves this issue by projecting the brand’s iconic bowtie logo on the ground to locate the sensor, making this function much more useful.
On the Road
Despite its small, turbocharged engine, the Trailblazer possesses decent power. That said, the power can be difficult to modulate — often small throttle inputs are not enough, and slightly more results in a surge of acceleration. Putting the vehicle in Sport mode seems to improve this issue, although smooth acceleration remains a challenge.
AWD Slow to Respond
The Trailblazer we tested was equipped with AWD — selectable via a button on the center console. During our drive, rainy weather produced some slick roads, and we discovered that even with AWD selected the vehicle exhibits considerable front wheelspin before power gets sent to the rear wheels. On more than one occasion the Trailblazer struggled for traction while attempting to cross busy intersections.
The overall ride of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is smooth and relatively quiet, and the small crossover we tested handled well on winding back roads of the Pacific Northwest.
The brand-new 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer has a tough battle ahead, diving headfirst into one of the most competitive vehicle segments in America. Although our test drive uncovered some bothersome issues, overall the new crossover looks good inside and out and offers excellent space and utility. With decent power and fuel efficiency as well as a range of trim levels, the new Trailblazer is certainly worth a look.