The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

A new choice

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I took one look at the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer that I would be driving and thought I might have time-traveled back to the mid-1950s. The two-tone Oasis Blue—think turquoise, and Black was quite striking.

This is not a bad thing. Chevrolet has loaded up the Trailblazer color palette with ten color choices plus the option of two-tone in black or white on select trims. A colleague in the auto media world applauded “I do love it when a brand is not afraid to paint their cars.”

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

And this from Chevrolet: “The Trailblazer doesn’t simply let customers express their personal style. It encourages it with uniquely styled trims that allow buyers to select a vehicle that reflects their lifestyle,” said Stuart Norris, design director of global Chevrolet compact SUVs. “Its design is bold, confident and full of personality.”

The proof was in a few parking lot “nice color” comments that I got. We see far too many black, gray, silver or white vehicles on the road today.

The Trailblazer is new to the Chevrolet lineup for 2021. It expands to seven Chevrolet’s offerings of utility vehicle choices to suite everyone’s needs. Size wise the subcompact Trailblazer fits in between the Trax and the compact Equinox. But price wise it’s the lowest priced, starting at $19,000.

The 5-passenger Trailblazer is front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive (AWD). Under the hood is a standard 137hp 1.2L turbo 3-cylinder. There’s also an available 155hp 1.3L turbo 3-cylinder. Both use a CVT automatic. AWD models get the 155hp engine mated to a 9-speed automatic. Normal, Sport and Snow modes can be selected on all models.

Trailblazer’s best EPA fuel economy ratings are with the 1.3L front-drive model at 29 city mpg and 33 highway mpg. The 1.2L is rated at 28 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. With AWD EPA ratings are 26 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. There’s an idle stop/start system for reduced fuel consumption and zero emissions which features an override/disable switch.

The Trailblazer’s compact outside at 173.5 inches long makes it very well suited for crowded densely populated cities. And yet, with the 60/40 split rear seat folded you can get up to 54.4 cu.ft. of cargo room. That’s more than double from the 25.3 cu.ft. with the rear seat up. There’s even a fold-flat front passenger seat available that will allow you to carry objects up to 8.5 ft. long. Chevrolet wants to attract a young buyer with the Trailblazer and offer lots of versatility for their adventurous and active lifestyle.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Trailblazer is offered L, LS, LT, RS, and ACTIV trims. A comprehensive list of Advanced Driver-Assist Safety (ADAS) features is standard, and additional are offered as options. The infotainment system has the ability to use two Bluetooth-paired phones concurrently. The audio system has available wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and available SiriusXM with 360L.

The Trailblazer ACTIV, intended for light off-road use, is equipped with shocks that are tuned to enhance vehicle performance and ride comfort when traveling on gravel roads. Hankook Sport Terrain 17-inch tires feature an aggressive shoulder design and an all-season tread pattern.

The front fascia on Trailblazer ACTIV features a lower section designed for improved ground clearance. Additional exterior differentiation includes two-tone roof, standard roof rails and trapezoid-shaped exhaust tips.

For my drive experience around my Chicagoland home I drove a Trailblazer in the RS trim with AWD. Base price on the RS with AWD is $26,900. Options included a $1,750 Technology Package that includes up-level ADAS and infotainment as well as a 7-speaker Bose audio system. A $620 Convenience Package and $345 Driver Confidence Package plus the $995 destination charge brought the total to $30,580.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Although the 1.3L engine may sound small, the turbo boost helps to deliver decent torque at low rpm to get you moving. Driving around town and on a few highway drives mostly by myself or with my wife the Trailblazer delivered decent acceleration and overall performance. I will say I was happy to have the 9-speed automatic. CVTs are not one of my favorites.

Ride quality is comfortable. The all-season 55-series tires, the lowest profile offered on the Trailblazer, helped with that. Too low a profile tire doesn’t make a good combination with occasionally rough city streets.

Although a 5-seater, the rear seat might be a bit narrow for three grown adults, however there is good rear seat legroom. The front cabin is nicely comfortable. I liked the flat-bottom steering wheel with its leather covering. The black interior with red trim bits blended well with the “bright” exterior.

More facts and figures on the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer can be found at

Overall there’s nice comfort and performance in the rather stylish Trailblazer, especially for the price. Surprisingly, there’s a fun element to driving it. I’d suggest the 1.3L engine if you are in hill-country or drive with a passenger or cargo load. Rear legroom is good so your best friends shouldn’t mind going along.

Back to color. I’ll admit I’m one of those black, gray or silver car buyers. But I do like the two-tone choices that are appearing on utility vehicles these days. You know tri-tone was once in vogue. I wonder?

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy