Over a decade has passed since the first Chevrolet Trailblazer was discontinued. Although it sold a decent amount of units in its time, it was ultimately replaced by the Traverse SUV. Last spring, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer was released with a fresh face and a bargain of a price tag.
The new Trailblazer is available in five trim levels, but off-roading enthusiasts are probably most intrigued by the Activ model. With all of its special equipment, you would think that the Trailblazer Activ is ready for some serious rock-crawling. However, as MotorTrend demonstrates, that assumption is quite far from the truth.
Lackluster off-roading skills
The Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ comes with sport terrain tires, a dual-outlet exhaust, and an off-roading suspension. The Activ trim also has better ground clearance than the standard 2021 Trailblazer plus special dampers. MotorTrend decided to test the Trailblazer’s off-roading chops in multiple scenarios.
First, the testers tackled a dirt road, which the Trailblazer handled with ease. Next, they decided to drive the vehicle over a steep hill with all-wheel drive engaged. They found that the Trailblazer had no problems going up or down a large hill, but they did notice some big flaws.
Even with the higher ground clearance, the Traiblazer’s front bumper isn’t nearly high enough for off-roading adventures. If you try to go over any large obstacles in this vehicle, you’ll only damage the front end. The Trailblazer also lacks any locking differentials.
Because of this, the Chevy Trailblazer can’t even handle a few large holes in the road. While it does have an open rear differential and a torsion beam, MotorTrend points out that these elements don’t really improve off-roading. It just makes the ride smoother when you’re going over bumpy terrain.
The real purpose of the Chevrolet Trailblazer’s AWD
It’s clear that the Chevrolet Trailblazer’s all-wheel-drive function isn’t made for any serious off-roading adventures. It simply acts as a traction control device for going over snow, mud, and other slippery surfaces. Still, MotorTrend testers found that it can’t even perform its intended function with any degree of skill.
They described the AWD’s performance as mediocre. After each loss of traction, testers had to let the vehicle rock on its own for a while before the AWD kicked in. If you’re worried about getting stuck on a mountain pass, don’t even try to cross it in the Chevy Trailblazer.
Other grievances about the Chevy Trailblazer
Critics have also pointed out that the Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ’s engine also isn’t very impressive. The available turbo 1.3-liter engine can make 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. To be fair, it’s more powerful than the standard engine, which can only produce 137 and 162 lb-ft of torque.
However, even with all-wheel drive, Car and Driver found the Trailblazer to be painfully sluggish. It takes over nine seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph. Its fuel economy numbers are average as well – only 29 mpg combined city/highway. It’s not surprising for such a small engine, but given the big price hike, it’s definitely not a good value.
Should you buy the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer?
The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer still has some good points. Many reviewers love its new design, which mirrors a sports car instead of an SUV. The Trailblazer also has generous interior dimensions, with plenty of space for both passengers and cargo.
However, the Trailblazer can’t match its competition in terms of overall power. Seasoned adventurers should stick with a Jeep Grand Cherokee, while drivers who want a more athletic candidate might want a Mazda CX-30. While $19,000 is a great price for a small SUV, off-roading enthusiasts should avoid the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer.