The 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Fills a Thin Niche, Because Style

It's aiming directly for the Hyundai Kona, Nissan Kicks, and Mazda CX-30.

It's either a bigger Chevy Trax or a smaller Chevy Equinox, but the two-tone paint job that distinguishes the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS and Activ perhaps best reveals its marketing mission. It's an answer to stylish small SUVs like the Hyundai Kona, Nissan Kicks, and Mazda CX-30. At 173.5 inches long, 71.2 inches wide, and 64.8 inches tall, the Trailblazer is longer, lower, and wider than the Trax.

You might notice the Trailblazer's resemblance to the new Buick Encore GX, with its flat top adding to the visual effect of making it look even less tall than it is. Depending on the primary exterior color, the Chevy's two-tone roof comes standard in red or black on the RS, or white or brown on the Active. Both trim models come with dual exhausts; all Trailblazers will be sourced from GM's Korean plant.

The fashion-accessory Trailblazer RS and Activ "signature trims" will be joined by the usual Chevrolet variants—L, LS, and LT—when the compact SUV goes on sale in the first or second quarter of 2020. The 2021 Trailblazer L will start at $19,995 and come with standard automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, automatic high-beam assist, lane-keep warning, lane-departure warning, teen-driver assist, a rear-seat reminder, and OnStar 4.

The Trailblazer Activ comes with bespoke 17-inch Hankook all-terrain tires and is bereft of lower front and rear spoilers for better off-road approach and departure angles. The Trailblazer RS will pack standard 18-inch wheels and tires. Front-wheel drive models come with normal, snow and sport modes, while all-wheel-drive adds more rear-wheel torque at low speeds on steep and unpaved roads.

The interior features a trick double-sided cargo load floor that's carpeted on one side and black plastic on the other; it also acts as a cover for additional storage next to the spare tire. The load floor can be dropped by 2.7 inches to provide stability for carrying rounded objects, too, while plastic borders can be detached for wider objects. On all but the L, the front passenger seat folds flat, and the second row's 40/60 split puts the bigger section on that side for more cargo-carrying versatility. Upper trim levels additionally get a power liftgate—a feature the Trax lacks—with a hands-free opening system that projects a lighted bowtie-logo on the ground to help you aim your foot.

The standard engine on the Chevy Trailblazer RS and Activ is a 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder rated for 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. It mates to a CVT on FWD models and a nine-speed conventional automatic on AWD models. The base engine is a 1.2-liter turbo three that outputs 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft; it's available only on FWD models and with a CVT.

Why would Chevrolet need both the Trax and the Trailblazer in its ever-expanding SUV lineup? If the Trax looks like a smaller Equinox, the Trailblazer is a sort of junior Blazer, with a more expressive split Chevy signature grille and what the company describes as a "sports-car-styled" tail. And, hey, at least the marketing people didn't call it something like "Chevy Camaro XUV."

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