ALTER EGO: 2021 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER RS
Last year, we discovered that the new generation Chevrolet Trailblazer was nothing quite like is predecessor in nearly every single way. With the old-generation targeting Xennails and their growing families, this next generation finds itself rummaging through the demographic of the younger Millennials and iGen generation that was mostly riding in the back seat of its dinosaur brother.
Outside of the entry level offerings from Chevrolet with the L, LS and LT that starts just above $20,000, the true personality of the Trailblazer lies behind its two alter egos, Activ and RS. After having dipped our toes into the eyes of an active youth earlier last year, the outcome of its snowy, winter land photos sort of speak for itself. But not everyone wants chunky off-road tires and a front skid plate, some may desire a little more sportiness running through their fingertips.
We are starting to get to an age where we can remember the RS trim from Chevrolet was considered the entry-level option; quite the opposite now as it’s the highest trim option on the Trailblazer, sharing the same starting price as the Activ at $26,695. And like the Activ, once we add in all the extras, $1500 all-wheel drive system, $345 Driver Confidence Package, $620 Convenience Package, $1770 Sun and Liftgate Package and the $1620 Technology Package, the RS comes out hitting closer to the $33,000 range.
Touching on a different, energetic personality, the RS looks exactly how one would expect a sportier trim to look. The styling has a bit more drama with a larger weaved black front grille, beefier 18-inch wheels, black accents all around and fat exhaust tips at the back. Inside, the contrast of leather and cloth seats with red stitching adds an eccentric, modern atmosphere while encompassing red accent bezels throughout. The RS also features a more, sport-like thick leather wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching and red glowing gauges.
Thanks to all of the packages and optional extras, our sampled RS was a cozy little scamp that touch perfectly on all the comfort creature features of the modern world. The Sun and Liftgate Package brought in a huge panoramic sunroof as well as a programmable power lift rear tailgate. The Confidence and Convenience Package added things like a single-zone automatic climate control, automatic dimming rearview mirror, rear park assist with cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring with lane change alert. The more expensive option of the Technology Package brought in more of the fan favorites like the upgraded 8-inch touch screen infotainment system that incorporated the Wireless smartphone applications, wireless charging, LED headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control and more. All Trailblazers even come standard with emergency forward collision and automatic emergency braking, lane change departure and automatic high beam assist.
Unfortunately, the powertrain behind the Trailblazer doesn’t quite live up to its sporty RS name. Despite Chevrolet doing its best to hide the performance specs, the Trailblazer uses a three-cylinder engine that is turbocharged. Making due with 155-horsepower and 174 lbs-ft of torque, the Trailblazer is a happy little ute, but not an excitable one. It takes nearly 10-seconds to achieve 60-mph and because ours was equipped with all-wheel drive it had the much preferred 9-speed automatic transmission, versus the droning CVT transmission that would come in the front wheel-drive alternative. It is almost hard to believe there is an even smaller engine option on the entry-level Trailblazer with a 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder – perhaps best to stay away from that one.
Because the RS is the alter ego to the Activ, some of its drivability components have been tightened up. The suspension and steering is slightly firmer for a better, rascally thrill ride. It carries better, supportive confidence in its maneuverability. The suspension is competent that doesn’t have us complaining about a harsh ride. Even the turbo has a sweet spot in the mid-revs range that gives a decent boost of go-juice at highway speeds to give it that overtaking power. It starts to show a well-balanced lust for the sportier side.
Hitting all the checkmarks for a younger demographic, the Trailblazer, in either form is stocked with all sorts of neat features like Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging pad and even a folding flat front passenger seat. In either fashion, there is a lot to enjoy and suit just about any activity one throws its way.
Vehicle: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD
Base Price: $26,255
As-Tested Price: $33,035
Engine: 1.3-liter Turbocharged Three-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 155-HP |174 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
MPG: 26 | 28| 30 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 25.9-MPG City (Highway MPG testing is currently suspended due to high fuel prices)
Fuel Range: 335 miles
0-60 MPH: ±10.0 seconds