Forget everything you know about the old Chevy Trail Blazer. Why the company kept its name is odd since the 2021 Trailblazer is a subcompact crossover bearing no resemblance to its forbearer.

It’s a cute little crossover in a crowded segment that can be in your driveway for around $20,000, up to $30,000 with the kitchen sink.


Curb appeal

Available all-wheel-drive

Roomy interior


Pokey acceleration

Base trim lacking

Three-cylinder engines

We spent a week behind the wheel of the top of the line RS with a base price of $27,895. For that you get a well-equipped 1.3-liter, three-cylinder turbo engine mated with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Don’t expect much acceleration and you will not be disappointed.

Keep in mind the RS has the upgraded engine while lesser trims have a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder turbo for even less excitement. It shares underpinnings with the new Buick Encore GX, both pint-sized runabouts. Our independent tests sprinting to 60 miles per hour from a dead stop recorded more than 10 seconds.

Where the Trailblazer excels is in providing an economical urban experience, easy to park and maneuver city streets and alleys with adequate power for keeping up with traffic.

In highway travel, the Trailblazer needs time to get up to speed and is best kept in the right lane with little passing opportunities.

Our RS trim tester added $2,700 in options including an upscale interior with fold flat rear and passenger seats to store big box purchases. An impressive suite of safety technology including full adaptive cruise, blind sport alerts, rear cross traffic, lane change alerts, emergency braking along with wireless charging and 120-volt power outlet rival more expensive crossovers.

Exterior upgrades include 18-inch high-gloss, black machined wheels, blackened body panels, black weaved grille and attractive fog lamp housings. Add in RS badging, Bose sound system and flat bottom steering wheel and the look is downright sporty.

The base L Trailblazer is in your driveway for $20,995; LS, $23,490; LT, $25,590 and Activ, $27,390. The Activ with all-wheel-drive can handle mild off-road maneuvers minus boulder-climbing and wheels up.

Know that the base trim substitutes hubcaps for alloy wheels, has a sparse interior and is only available in white.

We were impressed with its quiet cabin under normal driving conditions and the relatively smooth shifting pattern of the nine-speed. A checkered flag button at center dash is a type of Sport option when activated keeping gears in place longer while slightly adjusting steering pull.

Like many domestics, the Trailblazer is not American built. Rather it is assembled in South Korea with Korean and Mexican built engine and transmission with just three percent U.S. parts.

The Trailblazer does provide good cargo space with easy access to its low floor. When not in use, the rear seats are adult-sized and offer comfortable head and leg room. If you are shopping in this segment, we recommend including the Trailblazer in your test drives along with the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Jeep Renegade.

What was reviewed:

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS

Engine: three-cylinder, 155 horsepower, 174 lb-ft. of torque

EPA mileage: 26 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, 28 mpg combined.

Assembled: The new Trailblazer is assembled at facilities in Bupyeong Gu, Korea. U.S. / Canadian parts content – 3 percent; Major source of foreign parts, Korea – 44 percent, Mexico – 29 percent. Country of origin, engine and transmission – Mexico.

Crash test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Trailblazer four stars overall out of a possible five, four stars in frontal and rollover protection and five stars in side collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the Trailblazer as of this writing.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile basic; 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain; complimentary maintenance for first service visit.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at

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