Price Might Be What Holds the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer Back the Most

The new segment-splitting 2021 Chevy Trailblazer debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, aiming to get the attention of adventure-minded drivers. The Trailblazer reenergizes a Chevrolet nameplate, albeit with more modest proportions. The Chevy Trailblazer addresses top crossover selling points of style, capability, and practicality. It offers a spacious interior for its segment, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and plenty of standard features. On the negative side, the Trailblazer doesn’t have as strong an engine as its rivals nor as smooth of a ride.

The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer is priced out of its league

brown 2021 trailblazer in mountain setting
2021 Chevy Trailblazer | Chevy

If you’re looking for an affordable compact crossover for under $20,000, the Trailblazer may be a good choice for some. There are five trim levels to choose from, with the L priced at $19,995. After that, each consecutive trim level increases in price by $2,000. The Trailblazer RS trim costs $25,400 for front-wheel drive and $26,900 for front-wheel drive. The Trailblazer Active is designed for going somewhat off-road, so it features an off-road package. The Trailblazer RS trades the off-road capabilities for 18-inch alloy wheels, black exterior accents, and two-tone cloth and synthetic leather upholstery.

While the Trailblazer L and even the LS might offer fairly good features for their price, the Activ and RS don’t. If you can stretch your budget a bit, models like the Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona offer better features. For a little less than $2,000 more than the Trailblazer RS, both the CX-30 and Kona offer better powertrains and fancier tech. Not only that, but they both handle a lot smoother than the Trailblazer overall. It’s these aspects of price versus quality that make the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer priced out of its league.

Subpar performance means fewer trails blazed

A 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer sits on the banks of a lake at dusk.
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV | General Motors

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The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer offers a 137-horsepower 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder and a 155-horsepower 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder. Neither engine is close to exhilarating. Its initial thrust of power in lower gears makes it satisfactory enough for driving around town. However, that power quickly fades as RPMs increase, making climbing hills, merging on the highway, or trying to pass other vehicles difficult.

One reviewer wrote that the “Sport” transmission setting “didn’t affect the driving experience other than adjusting the shifting behavior of the transmission.” The author added they kept the transmission in “normal mode” for most of the test drive.

The Mazda CX-30 Premium package offers a 186-horsepower 2.5-liter engine. The Hyundai Kona’s top three trims (Night, Limited, and Ultimate) feature a 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. With less under the hood than other SUVs in its class, the Trailblazer hasn’t wowed reviewers with fuel efficiency either. From the base model to the Activ model, the new Trailblazer gets the same gas mileage as larger SUVs.

The cheaper Trailblazer model is still a good deal

For those looking for a decent compact crossover for under $20,000, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer is still a good deal. However, most reviewers who test drove it felt that the upper trim models were overpriced. They also listed several examples of slightly larger crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V priced right under $30,000. Even the Honda CR-V EX Hybrid is only a few thousand dollars more than the Trailblazer RS. In addition to that, while the Trailblazer’s cargo room is decent, competitors such as the Honda HR-V offer more.

The cabin is roomy, practical, and equipped with adequate features in all trims. Despite being classed as compact the Trailblazer sits high, giving it an SUV-like perch. Rear seating offers enough space for two adults to be seated comfortably in the rear. Its black plastic interior was designed well enough and dons attractive textures. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sirius XM satellite radio. Safety testing hasn’t been conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) yet. The one safety test it did undergo earned it four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Echoing the sentiment expressed by others, the market offers plenty of great alternatives for around the same cost. It may be best to hold off making a purchase until more vehicles are tested and more consumers publish their reviews.