Updated: Apr 1
I was getting out of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer to go into a store when two young women (I'm guessing somewhere between 25 and 30 years of age) say "Oh, wow! Is that the Trailblazer?"
I expected comment on the Oasis Blue paint as soon as I saw it, but I wasn't prepared for instantaneous recognition of---and excitement for---the car itself. I mean, after all, it's a small CUV, a new entry into perhaps the most crowded market segment in all of autodom, it's from a manufacturer which certainly sells its share of crossovers, but that would be hard pressed to be called an aspirational brand. And Chevrolet, forgive me if there's a multi-million dollar marketing campaign for the Trailblazer I somehow missed.
But the honest-to-God fact was I was now chatting, at a distance of six feet and three masks with two young women who Chevy would love to cite as key customers for the Trailblazer and they were excited to see one in real life. Boiled down, the situation was this: A small CUV is just what both women thought would be a great car for them. Their perception was that most of them (Honda HR-V, Nissan Kicks, Buick Encore GX, Hyundai Venue, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30) were pretty much the same and the difference was in looks. To them, there's some Camaro in the Trailblazer (mainly in the grille), and that was the appeal. Oh, and they did like it in Oasis Blue.
Any illusions of Camaro-ness vanish when you pop the hood. Even in the dark days of the 1982-1985 Camaros with a four-cylinder for a base engine, there was nothing quite this small.
This is a 1.3-liter inline three-cylinder with a turbocharger that wrings 155 horsepower out of it. And it's the upgrade. The standard engine is a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbo that makes 137 horsepower. Zero to 60 takes nine seconds according to Car and Driver and as much as 9.4 according to everyone else apart from Chevy itself, which estimates 8.7.
The transmission is a nine-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy numbers brighten things up a bit at 26 city/30 highway.
You can get a Trailblazer for as low as $19,000, but that's the one with the 1.2-liter. Our tester was the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS. Base price moves up considerably to $26,900. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights for that price are trailering equipment, 18-inch high gloss black machined aluminum wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED fog lamps and Chevy Safety Assist (automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert and automatic high beams).
Our tester also had some extra cost options: $1,770 for the Sun and Liftgate Package (a panoramic, dual-pane power sunroof and a power, hands-free programmable liftgate that shines a Chevy logo onto the pavement at night); $1,720 for the Technology Package (wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, LED headlamps, a memory card receptacle, a driver information center, an HD rear view camera, and a seven-speaker Bose Premium audio system with HDRadio); $620 for the Convenience Package (automatic climate control, auto-dimming inside mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, rear USB ports and SiriusXM capability) and $345 for the Driver Confidence Package (rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change alert with side blind zone alert).
With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS is $32,350.
Frankly, the pricing is the problem---and it's a common problem among many GM vehicles these days. Too many things that should be standard (adaptive cruise control, rear parking alert) aren't to keep the base price down. And worse, instead of being available ala carte, they're packaged with other options that, when added, put the as-tested price higher than competitive vehicles that offer a more comprehensive one-price package.