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Trailblazer? Yes. Trailblazing? We’ll get back to you…

Car Reviews

Trailblazer? Yes. Trailblazing? We’ll get back to you…

The Chevy TrailBlazer is back! No, I’m lying. The TrailBlazer, that tough off-road SUV that disappeared from the Chevrolet lineup back in 2008, is gone forever.  In its place is the new Trailblazer, spelled with a lower-case “b” that bears no resemblance to its namesake. The new Trailblazer is an all-new crossover that is strictly designed to stay on pavement.

Just for the record, the previous TrailBlazer first appeared on American roads as a high trim model of the Chevy S-10 Blazer.  A couple of years later, Chevrolet brought out a completely new model, the Chevy TrailBlazer, which was bigger and just as rugged.  These were the days when Americans were discovering the higher driver position of the SUV and were happy to shell out for a vehicle that drove like a truck and enjoyed lousy fuel economy.  But once the price of gas zoomed into the $4 a gallon range, the TrailBlazer, along with scores of other true SUVs, disappeared from the Chevy showroom.  So now we have the all-new 2021 Trailblazer crossover, definitely designed to stay on pavement.  Take it off-road at your own (and your insurance company’s) risk.

I test drove a Scarlet Red Metallic 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS for a week and got used to being approached in parking lots by interested folks asking about the new crossover.  The shy gawkers would just stare. With a window sticker of $29,995, almost exactly $10,000 above a base model, the Trailblazer RS features blacked-out exterior cues, a unique mesh grille, and dual exhaust outlets with chrome tips.  It’s no wonder people were checking the car out, as it offers a very cool exterior.

Unfortunately, looks can get you just so far. Buyers of the new Trailblazer are offered the choice of two three-cylinder turbocharged engines to power the crossover.  The RS trim comes with a 155 hp, 1.3 liter turbocharged inline 3-cylinder mated to a nine-speed automatic.  Fuel economy numbers are respectable (but not remarkable) at 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.  

Here’s my take: the RS trim is expected to be the sporty iteration that can get up and move; putting a three-cylinder turbo in this crossover is really short-changing it.  The RS needs an engine with punch, an engine that can raise your blood pressure, an engine that when you start it up makes you smile. I hope the engineers planned the engine bay for the Trailblazer to accept a bigger engine, which it needs.

The interior is surprisingly roomy, with the rear seats that can almost be comfortable for full-size adults.  And there’s a goodly amount of space left over in the cargo area to handle plenty of luggage.  The interior design isn’t nearly as sharp as the exterior, but it’s still a nice place to be for a long drive. But with just three cylinders, most drives will be long drives.

The Trailblazer is a sharp-looking crossover that’ll fill a small niche in the Chevy lineup.  It attracts buyers who’ll love the way it looks, and won’t really care that it can’t lay a patch in the parking lot.  

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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