Some crossovers are fun to drive and some are nice to look at. The Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of those things. Built as a shrunken alternative to the compact Chevy Blazer, the Trailblazer, despite its moniker, is far better suited for concrete jungles than conquering the Rubicon Trail. Neatly wrapped under its bonnet is either a 137-hp turbocharged three-cylinder or a 155-hp turbo-three unit. These powertrains don’t make it impossible to get a speeding ticket in a Trailblazer, but it is going to require a lot of effort and space. Front-wheel-drive models get a continuously variable automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive Trailblazers use a smoother, traditional nine-speed automatic. Other subcompact crossovers, such as the Kia Soul and Nissan Kicks, beat the Trailblazer in terms of fuel economy and price, but the Chevy does have the largest infotainment screen of the three. Despite its size, the diet Blazer maximizes interior space by allowing its front-passenger seat to fold flat, allowing long objects to be carried. The Trailblazer is a fine choice for dorm dwellers, but it’s obvious that many of its competitors have already graduated.
What’s New for 2024?
The Chevy Trailblazer is refreshed for 2024 with new equipment inside and out. A new front fascia and revised headlights give the Trailblazer the same schnoz as the larger Blazer SUV; Chevy has also added new wheel designs and two new colors called Cacti Green and Copper Harbor. Inside, there’s a new 11.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s anchored to a high-tech 8.0-inch digital gauge cluster as standard equipment. It replaces the puny unit from last year. The 2024 model will go on sale in the fall of 2023.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
With a starting price of roughly $25,000, we think the Trailblazer LT is the one to get. It comes standard with the less powerful three-cylinder. But for a little extra, we’d upgrade from the weaker 1.2-liter to the less-weak 1.3-liter and add all-wheel drive, which also brings the nine-speed automatic transmission.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
As with the Encore GX, the Trailblazer offers two different turbocharged three-cylinder engines, a 1.2-liter, and a 1.3-liter. The former produces 137 horsepower and the latter generates 155 horses. The 1.2-liter engine comes only with front-wheel drive and is equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while the 1.3-liter offers optional all-wheel drive. Opting for the all-wheel drive system also replaces the standard CVT with a well-coordinated nine-speed automatic. The acceleration of a 1.3-liter all-wheel drive Trailblazer failed to impress during testing, where it loped to 60 miles per hour in a leisurely 9.4 seconds. Around town at slower speeds, the Trailblazer feels peppier than its test results suggest, but merging onto the highway or executing high-speed passing maneuvers require planning. While the Trailblazer doesn’t offer a particularly athletic chassis, it handles curves ably enough—but its ride is often harsh over road imperfections.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA has only published data for Trailblazers using the 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine instead of the smaller 1.2-liter. The front-wheel-drive 2024 Trailblazer earns an EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined, 29 mpg city, and 33 mpg for highway. According to the EPA, Trailblazers with all-wheel drive are only slightly less efficient, earning an estimated 27 mpg combined, 26 mpg city, and 29 mpg highway (1 mpg less than 2023 models). We’ll update this space once we’ve driven the Trailblazer on our 75-mph highway fuel economy test. For more information about the Trailblazer’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The cabin’s design isn’t as cheeky as the exterior’s, but it’s spacious, functional, and outfitted with plenty of convenience items in the upper trims. The driving position is a high, SUV-like perch and there’s plenty of space for two adults to be comfortable in the rear seat. Although most of the interior is rendered in black plastic, everything wears an attractive texture to avoid appearing cheap. Upper-level models add colored trim pieces and chrome embellishments that provide a more upscale look. Behind the rear seat is a generous cargo bay, and the Chevy provides not only fold-flat rear seats but also a folding front passenger seat to create space for extra-long items.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Trailblazer comes standard with an 11.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as Sirius XM satellite radio. Wireless phone charging is available on LT, ACTIV, and RS trims, plus passengers can connect to the Trailblazer’s available Wi-Fi hotspot for all their streaming needs.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Chevrolet equips every Trailblazer with a set of basic driver-assistance technology and makes more advanced tech, such as adaptive cruise control, optional. For more information about the Trailblazer’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Chevrolet’s standard warranty coverage is dead average when compared to many of the Trailblazer’s rivals. Looking for something with a longer warranty? The Hyundai Kona, the Kia Seltos, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport all offer up to 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. The Trailblazer’s first scheduled maintenance visit is complimentary, which is unusual among competitors, but the Hyundai outdoes the Chevy here with a free three-year maintenance plan.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$30,580 (base price: $27,895)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
82 in3, 1338 cm3
155 hp @ 5600 rpm
174 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Suspension (F/R): struts/torsion beam
Brakes (F/R): 11.8-in vented disc/10.4-in disc
Tires: Hankook Kinergy GT, 225/55R-18 98H M+S TPC SPEC 3139 MS
Wheelbase: 103.9 in
Length: 173.7 in
Width: 71.2 in
Height: 65.7 in
Passenger volume: 98 ft3
Cargo volume: 25 ft3
Curb weight: 3323 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 9.4 sec
100 mph: 31.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 10.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 7.0 sec
1/4 mile: 17.1 sec @ 80 mph
Top speed (mfr’s claim): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 174 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.83 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 31 mpg
Highway range: 400 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 28/26/30 mpg
More Features and Specs