RUGGED & CHARMING: 2021 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER ACTIV
The demand for sedans grows less and less as crossovers keep sliding into the DM’s of consumers Wishlist’s. But that isn’t surprising news as Chevrolet has been one of the many manufacturers to kill off the four-door sedan that offered an entry point into the brands at an affordable price. The only conclusion is to bring in a sub-compact crossover that fills the void the sedans left behind.
Nearly every single brand on the market has some sort of sub-compact crossover, most of them even double dip like the Hyundai Venue and Kona, Jeep Renegade and Compass, Mazda CX-3 and CX30 and now Chevrolet has jumped on to this bandwagon with their all-new Trailblazer. While Chevrolet may already have a sub-compact ute in the mix with the Trax, the Trailblazer is much more youthful based being slighting bigger and cheaper with a $19,995 entry price tag. That’s a $2300 difference from the entry-level Trax LS that starts at $22,295. It is our assumption, though not factual, that the Chevrolet Trax and its old school Chevy Sonic vibe are on its way out the door with a pink slip in hand and the Trailblazer will end up taking its place.
The fact of the matter is, the new Trailblazer is cool with a soulful energy. It may not be much in line of the old Trailblazer of the mid-2000’s but neither was the Blazer and we sure got over that real quick. Chevrolet has done something rather interesting when it comes to selecting which trim level would interest consumers. There are the standard trim levels L, LS and LT for the ones that don’t want to be radical, but then there are the Activ and RS models. Both the Activ and RS start at the same $26,495 and both can top out around the $33,000 mark. The RS gets the pleasure of being the sportier, funky type with 18-inch wheels, honeycomb grill and sporty body structure. The Activ on the hand, well, it’s in the name – its is the more weekend adventurer that offers a rugged lifestyle of 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, faux-like front skid plate and a masculine styled grille.
With the power of three, we hardly noticed the power-plant under the hood was only a three-cylinder engine. Something we don’t see every day, let alone in a crossover. With power being sourced from a 1.3-liter engine, we wouldn’t call the Trailblazer necessarily quick. It certainly takes its time getting to 60-mph seeing that it moseys on up there in about 10-seconds. Surprisingly this is the upgraded engine from the base 1.2-liter three-cylinder. Both engines are juiced up with turbochargers, the 1.2-liter makes due with 137-horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque while the upgraded 1.3-liter makes use of its 155-horse and 175 lb-ft of torque.
Around town is where the Trailblazer shines, its low end torque is pleasantly swift from a start. Since our subject optioned for the all-wheel drive, it comes only available in the 1.3-liter engine and swaps out the standard CVT transmission for a nine-speed automatic. Even as the engine and transmission, there isn’t necessarily a rewarding feel. Even when we slid the lever into manual mode, it still did most of the deciding for us, but it got the job done. Living that city life though, the Trailblazers chassis is delightful with pleasant road mannerisms. It handles promptly with a nicely weighted steering and manages to absorb most of the road dynamics.
Unfortunately, asking a three-cylinder engine to do the job of four-cylinder is a tall order. While we would have hopped to see fuel economy in the high 30’s, we still managed to do significantly better than the rated EPA mpgs. We averaged just over 33-mpg on the highway with a combined rating of 30.6 – nearly two mpgs better than the EPA.
Inside, things are a simple minded with a tastefully designed interior. Our Activ was upgraded with nearly option selected. The $1620 Technology packaged added wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, adaptive cruise control, upgraded Bose audio and LED headlights. The $1770 Sun and Liftgate Package that incorporated a nicely sized panoramic sunroof and hands-free power liftgate. The $345 Driver Confidence Package brought in rear parking sensors, lane change alert and blind spot monitoring. And the $620 Convenience Package that featured automatic climate control, auto-dimming rear view and an 8-inch touch screen display.
For a sub-compact crossover, things were surprisingly comfortable and roomy. Rear occupants had plenty of leg and head room. There’s plenty of cargo space available as not only do the rear seats fold flat, but as does the front passenger seat to aid in fitting larger items like a surf board or a kayak.
The Trailblazer may not be what it used to be, it’s something more. By offering different variants of lifestyle, it makes it one of the more attractive sub-compact utes in the game. While we wish Chevrolet had gone more in the route of a four-cylinder turbo, the three-cylinder is just fine, as long as you won’t be in a hurry.
Vehicle: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ
Base Price: $19,995
As-Tested Price: $33,035
Engine: 1.3-liter Turbocharged 3-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 155-HP |174 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
MPG: 26 | 30 | 28 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 30.6-MPG COMBINED | 33.3-MPG HIGHWAY (200-MILES AT 75-MPH)
Fuel Range: 350 miles
0-60 MPH: ±9.5 seconds