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Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

Subcompact SUVs currently represent one of the most popular segments, but some vehicles in this segment end up feeling like raised-up hatchbacks instead of practical SUVs.

So the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer was introduced to bring more of an SUV vibe to the smaller side of Chevy's seven-model SUV lineup. Whereas the Trax is a leftover product from GM's ties with Opel, and rides on the same platform as the Buick Encore, the Trailblazer was originally developed for the Asian market. It promises  a more modern platform, improved fuel economy, even better styling and utility and, most of all, a more affordable starting price. 

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

Right off the bat, the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer has a lot going for it in terms of the exterior design. Looking like a scaled-down version of the mid-size Chevrolet Blazer, the Trailblazer has a unique styling defined by the stacked headlights, sharp body creases and the available two-tone roof.

The RS and Activ trim levels get their own distinct style, with the latter offering a functional skid plate, off-road suspension tuning, and 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. The Trailblazer Activ also features dark chrome accents on the front and rear bumpers, functional dual exhaust outlet openings, and what appears to be fake tow hooks poking through the front bumper. Chevy nailed the proportions of this small SUV, but our favorite thing is the available two-tone paint job. This tester's Zeus Bronze Metallic with a white roof and white mirror caps looked great.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

Not only does the squared-off body lines help the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer not look like a hatchback, it also provides a roomy interior. Even with its subcompact dimensions, the Trailblazer has no problem accommodating five passengers including best-in-class rear seat legroom. Behind the seats, there is 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space, but folding the rear seats flat opens this up to 54.4 cubic feet. On models with the optional fold-flat front seat, the Trailblazer interior can swallow objects up to 8.5 feet in length. Not bad for one of the smallest models on the road!

While the Trailblazer is surprisingly roomy, the design and equipment found inside this SUV is also unexpected. The Activ trim level has two-tone leather seats with stylish fabric inserts on the seats and door panels, and the touchscreen infotainment display is mounted in the instrument panel rather than on top of it like many tablet-style infotainment systems. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi are all standard on the Activ, and this tester was equipped with the $1,620 Technology Package, which upgraded to the eight-inch touchscreen display, wireless smartphone charging, a 4.2-inch digital gauge cluster, and a seven-speaker Bose audio system.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is offered with a pair of three-cylinder engine options, but the Activ (as well as the RS and AWD models) is only available with the 1.3-liter turbocharged and direct-injected engine. This engine is rated at 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque and the AWD models pair the engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Even with its small size and advanced powertrain, the Trailblazer's fuel economy falls short of rivals like the Volkswagen Taos and Honda HR-V. This Trailblazer AWD Activ received EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, a drop of 3 mpg in both city and highway compared to the 1.3L FWD model.

On the road, the little three-cylinder isn't peppy, but it's powerful enough that it doesn't feel terribly underpowered on interstate merge ramps. One area that customers will want to pay attention to before committing to purchasing a Trailblazer is the ride quality. I'm not sure if it's the short 103.9-inch wheelbase, or Chevy's claimed off-road suspension tuning (or likely a combination of the two), but this SUV can make interstate expansion joints quite noticeable. Towing capacity is limited to just 1,000 pounds, so if you need something to haul toys, it might not be the best bet.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer shows that small SUVs can deliver big on safety with its 5-Star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

All 2021 Trailblazers come standard with Automatic Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. The Technology Package adds Adaptive Cruise Control and the HD rear vision camera, while the $345 Driver Convenience Package includes Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Alert, Rear Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

The moment the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer went on sale, the similarly sized Chevy Trax instantly became obsolete, and more importantly, it gave Chevrolet a solid entrant in the red-hot >subcompact SUV segment. The new Trailblazer looks like a legit SUV instead of a lifted hatchback, and it's a perfect choice for first-time buyers or downsizing empty nesters.

More importantly, the Trailblazer's starting price of just $19,000 makes it the second-most-affordable vehicle in the Chevrolet lineup, right after the Spark hatchback. Regardless of which trim level you want, the Trailblazer RS and Activ have identical price points starting at $26,695. This well-equipped tester came in just shy of the $30,000 mark, with an as-tested price of $30,730.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | Jun 30, 2021


2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, AWD

Engine/Transmission

Turbocharged 1.3L I4, 155 hp, 174 lb-ft
Nine-speed automatic

Mileage

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.