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  7. 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

Derek Shiekhi | Dec 03, 2020

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

The Chevrolet Trailblazer is back! Again! The first time around, Chevy used the name TrailBlazer for a package it offered on the Blazer in the late 1990s. The TrailBlazer became a standalone Chevrolet model starting with the 2002 model year and ran until 2009. Now the Trailblazer is back for 2021 as an all-new small SUV that fits in between the smaller Trax and larger Equinox. It combines distinctly Chevy styling elements with a cargo-friendly interior, turbocharged power and a wide range of safety features.

Prices start at $19,000 for the base L model. Beyond that are the better-equipped LS ($21,600), LT ($23,700), outdoorsy ACTIV and sporty RS trim levels (both $25,500). Front-wheel drive is standard across the range; all-wheel drive is available on all Trailblazer models except the L. A Trailblazer RS with all-wheel drive and the Convenience, Technology, Driver Confidence and Sun and Liftgate packages, like the one pictured here, will have a window sticker price of $32,350. 

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

The outside of the Trailblazer RS embodies all parts of the term "sport utility vehicle."

It's easy to see the Trailblazer's resemblance to the Blazer mid-size ute in its slim headlights, dual-tier grille, chunky daytime running lights and the way its greenhouse glass ends at a fine point. Black plastic wheel arch trim and lower body paneling suggest that the Trailblazer is ready for adventures on unpaved roads.

The RS trim level completes the package by adding a variety of sporty design elements. Up front, there's a wide-weave mesh grille and unique front splitter. The 18-inch wheels have a two-tone finish, just like the chrome-framed black bowtie badges at both ends. A diffuser sits between two polished exhaust finishers at the bottom of the rear fascia.

Chevy offers the RS in six exterior colors and two roof colors. It's possible to get the Trailblazer RS in one solid color: Mosaic Black Metallic. Aside from that particular combination, the rest of the color scheme options are two-tone, with either a Mosaic Black or Scarlet Red Metallic roof. Completely blacked-out A- and B-pillars and black trim on the C-pillar make the red top look as if it's floating above the rest of the vehicle - a sporty touch recognizable on certain Japanese sport sedans.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Interior

Interior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

Chevy made choosing the RS's interior color combo easy. There's only one: Jet Black cloth and leatherette seats with red accents on the dashboard, main gauges, center console grab handles and shift lever. That gave this Scarlet Red and Mosaic Black test vehicle an all-of-one-piece look - sporty on the outside, sporty on the inside.

All of the Trailblazer RS's various options packages showed just how many features once available in larger, more upscale vehicles have made their way into affordable mainstream models. These days, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard equipment in a wide array of SUVs, but often require a USB cable connection to a smartphone. They were completely wireless in the Trailblazer RS and could be accessed on the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system's 8-inch touchscreen. There was no need for a charging cable, either, because the Trailblazer RS had a wireless pad for doing that.

Long highway drives were less stressful thanks to adaptive cruise control. Retracting the shade for the panoramic sunroof made the interior feel more spacious. Room wasn't really a problem for the Trailblazer, though. Its 40/60-split second row was roomy enough for average-size adults. Behind that was 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the rear seats down increased that to 54.4 and enabled the Trailblazer to carry objects up to 8.5 feet long. The hands-free power rear liftgate made getting to the cargo area easy and took some of the strain out of loading in heavy bags of groceries.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Performance

View of the engine block of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD


Like its Buick Encore GX cousin, the Trailblazer is available with two small turbocharged 3-cylinder engines. The 1.2-liter power plant generates 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque and routes it through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The 1.3-liter I3 sends its 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque through a 9-speed automatic. The Trailblazer RS is only available with the larger engine, but drivetrain layout determines which transmission it gets. Models with front-wheel drive come with the CVT; those with all-wheel drive have the 9AT.

Chevy takes an unusual approach to the Trailblazer's AWD System. Instead of being fully on at all times, it only brings the rear axle into the mix when the driver pushes a button to engage all-wheel drive. That saves fuel as much as possible and provides additional traction only when necessary. At its most efficient, an AWD Trailblazer RS is capable of getting an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined. Our tester only managed to average 24.1 mpg after racking up 143.8 miles. There's also a Sport mode button that gives the steering a heavier feel and makes the 9-speed auto's shifts feel snappier.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Safety

View of the safety features of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

Luxury features aren't the only ones that have spread from high-end to everyday vehicles. Safety features have, too. And the Trailblazer is a perfect example of that.

It's on the entry-level side of Chevrolet's SUV spectrum, but still comes standard with Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Automatic Emergency Braking, IntelliBeam Headlamps (aka automatic high beams), Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and more. The Driver Confidence Package ups the level of protection with Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist.


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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

Chevrolet has brought the Trailblazer back once again to compete in the small SUV segment. The latest incarnation of the well-known nameplate is an attractive little ute that offers an impressive mix of infotainment, comfort and safety tech, especially in RS trim. You can sample that mix yourself at an AutoNation Chevrolet dealership.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, AWD


1.3L I3, 155 hp, 174 lb-ft
Eight-speed automatic


26/30 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★  

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.