2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer First Drive Review

Certainly one of my oldest pals had bid farewell to her husband simply weeks prior as he deployed abroad. They’d packed up the house in Miami and shipped most of it again to our hometown on California’s Central Coast with the assistance of the Air Drive, however her, the youngsters, and her automobile wanted to get throughout the nation in the course of the pandemic. They’d thought of flying, however between the well being dangers and the price of each aircraft tickets and transport the automobile, she elected to drive. Two youngsters below seven, a 7-year-old Ford Escape, and a couple of,500 miles: What may go unsuitable?

“You are gonna chortle, however we busted one other hose,” learn the Fb Messenger notification on my lock display screen. Uh oh. Time to mount a rescue expedition. I hope the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer in my driveway has sufficient area for 3 adults, two forward-facing automobile seats (with youngsters), and a cross-country transfer’s value of baggage.

By the point we received the message, she and the youngsters had been already on the tow truck and headed to a service station within the tiny city of Needles, California, on the Arizona border. It was already late within the afternoon, so we would not be rescuing them that evening, however the Trailblazer was on standby.

The subsequent day was one lengthy holding sample because the store recognized a blown radiator, not a hose, however promised to have it changed the next morning. Mattress bugs and a 20-minute stroll in 115-degree warmth with two little youngsters and baggage wasn’t sufficient to get her to name within the cavalry. With every little thing that had gone unsuitable (did I neglect to say the automobile had blown a radiator hose in New Mexico, the place additionally they found a foul tie rod, and had the rooftop cargo provider come aside on the freeway?), we hatched a backup plan.

The subsequent morning, my spouse and I grabbed our masks, hand sanitizer, snacks, drinks, and charging cords, and jumped within the Trailblazer. If the store fastened her automobile, superb, we would flip round. If not, we would already be midway there.

Trailblazer Tech and Choices

In accordance with Chevy, the Trailblazer, which is a dimension beneath the 2013 Ford Escape they had been driving, is focused at individuals shopping for Jeep Renegades, Toyota C-HRs, and Honda HR-Vs. The Trailblazer’s adjustable top cargo flooring can be invaluable in maximizing area, however the flat-folding rear seats and the optionally available flat-folding entrance passenger seat had been no good right here. Then again, the surprisingly enormous rear seat can be a godsend with an grownup and two baby seats again there. However would it not be sufficient, particularly on a Four 1/2-hour drive?

Greater than 4 hours on the interstate gave me loads of time to get a learn on the Trailblazer. Our tester was a totally loaded “Activ” mannequin—sure, spelled incorrectly with out the E—designed to look slightly more durable and extra off-roady. Along with “Sport Terrain” Hankook tires (all-seasons with aggressive-looking sidewalls), some underbody safety, and a small raise, it will get a unique damper tune that is imagined to make it extra snug off-road. To my well-calibrated bottom, it merely felt like Chevy firmed up the experience to make it really feel extra like a truck. Though needlessly stiff, it did take up large hits fairly effectively, however you hear them loud and clear. The truth is, you hear every little thing the tires are doing. On a regular basis. It is too unhealthy as a result of the cabin in any other case does an outstanding job of holding out wind and site visitors noise.

At $32,995 as examined, it is significantly dearer than any of its rivals we lately ranked in our Cheap Wheels small SUV comparison, however in the meanwhile, that was a great factor. It meant we had each bell and whistle at our disposal, and Chevy packed lots of them into this little factor. Energy liftgate, panoramic sunroof, computerized local weather management, wi-fi cellphone charging, wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB-A and USB-C ports within the entrance and rear, adaptive cruise management, LED headlights with computerized excessive beams, a blind-spot warning system, and extra had been all packed on prime of a fundamental package deal that features ahead collision warning and computerized emergency braking, lane departure warning and computerized lane holding help, pedestrian sensing functionality, and extra customary. The cash undoubtedly went locations.

The one lacking options the comparability test-winning Kia Soul provides, for lots much less cash, are multi-zone computerized local weather management and built-in navigation. The previous is sweet to have if you and your partner reside at completely different physique temperatures, however not widespread within the class. The latter I can solely assume is not accessible as a result of Chevy is aware of you will simply use Google Maps in your cellphone anyway.


Then again, the Soul begins at $18,610 to the Trailblazer’s $19,995, and judging by manufacturer-supplied images (and primarily based on expertise with entry-level Chevys), the bottom Trailblazer seems to be just like the cheaper automobile inside, utterly devoid of shade and filled with button blanks. Up on the highest tier trim ranges (Activ and RS are two completely different variations of the best trim degree, one off-road oriented and one sport-oriented), a minimum of, there are some good contrasting colours and even actual accent stitching on the sprint. Nonetheless, a loaded Soul is $4,400 cheaper than a loaded Trailblazer.

Trailblazer Engine, Transmission, and All-Wheel Drive

Then once more, the Soul would not supply all-wheel drive (AWD) like our Trailblazer has—a $1,500 possibility. Getting each the AWD and the Activ trim degree additionally meant we received the strongest engine, a 1.3-liter turbocharged inline three-cylinder paired to a nine-speed computerized as an alternative of the usual constantly variable transmission. With 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft. of torque, it outmuscles every little thing in that comparability check, and you would be completely forgiven for pondering it is faster than it’s. This three-banger is a salty little factor.

After a beat of turbo lag and a noticeable quantity of vibration simply off idle—three-cylinders are naturally unbalanced and tuning-out all of the vibrations is dear and robs energy—the enhance rushes in, and there is wholesome low-end and mid-range torque that makes the automobile really feel punchy and responsive. It runs out of breath on the highest finish, and the pc won’t ever allow you to get inside 1,000 RPM of the famous redline, however the gear ratios are neatly spaced and drop you proper again into the torque with an upshift.

You do not discover how sluggish the automobile truly is till you flooring it getting on the freeway or attempt to make a move at freeway speeds. Chevy estimates an 8.7-second 0-60 time, and it appears very optimistic. Our check facility remains to be closed because of the pandemic, however an unscientific stopwatch check registered extra like 10 seconds. Even assuming human fallibility, 9.5 seconds looks like a sensible quantity. Not fast, however lifeless middle of the aggressive set. That is no due to the checkered flag button, which simply makes the steering heavier and holds gears longer.

Scooting round city, although, you’d by no means realize it. When you study to provide it extra fuel off the road to masks the turbo lag, the Trailblazer zips by means of metropolis site visitors. The nine-speed auto at all times has the correct gear and solely as soon as gave us a stiff downshift. In any other case, it disappears into the background, one much less factor to fret about. That permits you to shift some mind energy to feathering the brake pedal, which is each unusually agency and a bit grabby till you get used to it.

Though the AWD system does shunt some energy to the rear wheels as you’re taking off from a cease, it is neither a efficiency system nor rock-crawling {hardware}. As a substitute, it is a traction support, which helps you get going confidently in slick or steep—or each—circumstances. To recreation the fuel-economy testing for additional CAFE credit score, Chevrolet insists on making it selectable by way of a button by the shifter as an alternative of simply having it come on routinely when wanted like each different non-GM automobile on the planet. As a substitute, it flashes a message to show it on when the entrance wheels begin spinning. Chevy notes that turning it off saves fuel, which is why each different non-GM automobile routinely turns off AWD when it isn’t wanted and routinely engages it when it’s.

Again to The Story

The brand new radiator arrived simply as we had been leaving the home, however the string of unhealthy luck already encountered informed us to maintain going, simply in case. The nearer we received, the higher this determination regarded. Repairs had been taking for much longer than promised, without end. By the point we arrived over 4 hours later, it nonetheless wasn’t performed regardless of the outdated radiator having been eliminated the day earlier than in preparation. Showtime.

Hoping towards hope the outdated Ford can be fastened quickly, we provided to take the youngsters off her palms, and he or she may meet us again on the home later. An overstuffed full-size suitcase and a self-contained journey bathroom went within the trunk with a handful of different issues, in addition to two automobiles seats within the again. Extensive-opening rear doorways and well-positioned LATCH factors made putting in the automobile seats straightforward sufficient. The ample leg room meant the youngsters could not fairly kick the backs of our seats if we scooted just a bit farther ahead than regular. To date, so good.

Not 5 minutes down the highway, we received the decision. The store could not get the coolant traces to line up with the substitute radiator and had been ordering now hoses to be delivered a number of days later. Again we went to cram an grownup into the Trailblazer, too.

Trailblazer Inside

Though it wasn’t like having the entire row to your self on an airplane, shifting the automobile seats nearer to the doorways truly made sufficient room for an grownup to sit down within the center with out being crushed. Between the wi-fi cellphone charger and the entrance and rear USB ports, everybody’s cellphone was getting charged. A rear A/C vent would’ve been good for everybody within the again, however all informed, nobody was unbearably uncomfortable on the Four 1/2-hour experience dwelling throughout the desert.

An exceptionally excessive roof was appreciated throughout, giving each entrance and rear passengers a ton of headroom even with the panoramic sunroof, which usually impedes headroom. That and equivalent squarish home windows for everybody gave me abnormally good outward visibility, whereas the digital driver aids all labored properly to ease my drive. I did discover the seat backside cushion a bit quick, however nobody else was bothered by it, and the seats had been in any other case snug at some point of the impromptu highway journey. Tire noise apart, speaking between the back and front seats was no hassle.

Trailblazer Gas Economic system

Greater than 10 hours after we left, we pulled into the driveway, three individuals and a pile of baggage heavier. Between all of the individuals and stuff inside, in addition to my propensity to cruise at 80 mph, the automobile’s self-reported 23 mpg common wasn’t unhealthy even when it was beneath the EPA estimates, that are on the low finish of the aggressive set at 26/30/28 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed with AWD and 28-29/31-33/29-31 mpg with out. Probably the most environment friendly automobile in that comparability received 31/36/33 mpg, for context.

Ought to You Purchase A Trailblazer?

The conclusion of our crossover comparability check was a simple name: The Soul was head and shoulders over the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Venue, and Toyota C-HR (in that order). The place would possibly the Trailblazer fall if we did the check once more? My vote matched the ultimate results of that check precisely, and I would put the Trailblazer in second. It will get dear when its totally loaded; it is lacking an possibility or two; and it may be slightly tough and slightly loud at occasions. Then again, it is spacious, nice to drive, and provides options like wi-fi cellphone casting and AWD the others do not. Its misses are small, however its wins are large, and Chevy’s hit the section proper on the pinnacle.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
BASE PRICE $27,895
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 1.3L/155-hp/174-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3
TRANSMISSION 9-speed computerized
CURB WEIGHT 3,300 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 103.9 in
L x W x H 173.7 x 71.2 x 65.7 in
0-60 MPH 9.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 26/30/28 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 130/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.70 lb/mile
ON SALE Presently

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