2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer: See, You Didn’t Need That Cruze After All

Not to be left behind as rival automakers unveiled their latest and greatest in L.A., Chevrolet pulled the remaining wraps off its upcoming Trailblazer. Arriving this spring as a 2021 model, the Trailblazer — like its Buick Encore GX sibling — fills a questionably-sized gap between the compact and subcompact class. The brand’s other returning nameplate, the Blazer, plugged a hole between the compact and midsize class a year ago.

While we now know more about the Trailblazer, its starting price might be its most unique feature.

Chevrolet plans to have the Trailblazer start below $20,000. Even though that base MSRP will probably fall just a few bucks below that marker, having a billboard featuring a price starting with “19” will scream “Attainability!” to the low-end buyers Chevy doesn’t want to lose to other brands.

After lowering the compact Cruze sedan into its grave this past spring, the bowtie brand needs something that isn’t an endangered Spark or Sonic to tempt first-time buyers. With this vehicle, it can point to fuel economy and cargo space as additional reasons why these consumers don’t need a sedan.

Wait, you say — doesn’t the lowly Trax already fit that bill?

Supposedly! However, the subcompact Trax slots below the Trailblazer in terms of size and storage, but tops it in price, at least in entry-level guise. A 2020 Trax LS FWD starts at $22,295 after destination. Even with the $1,000 cash allowance currently offered on the model, the Trax is still the pricier option. We see a similar pricing strategy at work with the Encore GX, which slots above the entry-level Encore.

Keep in mind that a 2019 Cruze started at $18,870.

Depending on trim and buyer preference, the Trailblazer carrier either a 1.2-liter turbo three-cylinder or a 1.3-liter triple, both paired with continuously variable automatics in front-drive guise. All-wheel-drive models with the 1.3L get a nine-speed automatic. Power for the bigger of the two mills is 155 horses and 174 lb-ft of torque. Base 1.2L buyers can expect 137 hp and 166 lb-ft, which is more grunt than offered by the 1.4-liter Trax.

GM anticipates a combined 31 mpg figure for the thriftiest Encore GX — a figure that should carry over for the Trailblazer. Again, that’s a better performance figure than the Trax.

The personalization aspect of this vehicle is high. Chevy claims buyers can opt for an ACTIV or RS trim to tailor their Trailblazer’s appearance to their personal liking. ACTIV brings aboard the two-tone roof you see in the top two photos, a front and rear fascia that differs from stock, dual exhaust, plus Hankook Sport Terrain 17-inch tires and tuned shocks. Choosing RS (red Trailblazer pic) nets you a “performance-inspired” mesh grille to go with that three-cylinder, as well as a black bowtie badge and front splitter. Don’t scrape that thing on the trails.

Like most, if not all, GM vehicles, buyers will have to shell out extra dough for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, but even base models will carry a decent amount of passive safety features. Among them: forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking with front pedestrian braking, auto high beam assist, lane keeping with lane departure warning, GM’s teen driver system, and the automaker’s rear seat reminder function.

While all Trailblazers will allow two Bluetooth-paired occupants to use their phones at the same time, not every trim offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity as standard kit. Selectable AWD, which allows drivers to cancel any power being sent to the rear wheels, is another option GM hopes buyers spring for.

With rear seats down, Chevy claims 54.4 cubic feet of cargo volume and the ability to carry an 8.5-foot length of IKEA product. Pricing and trim details will roll out closer to the model’s on-sale date.

first published on TTAC

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