By NITISH S. RELE
After over a decade, it is back, and we are glad to see the arrival of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, slotted between its siblings, the smaller Trax and larger Equinox. A subcompact SUV it is, but an impressive one at that with passenger volume nearing 99 cubic feet. Best of all, we like the aggressive and sporty look of the 2021 five-passenger ride, making the vehicle a standout in this crowded segment.
Our all-wheel-drive test version is equipped with a 1.3-liter inline-4 turbo engine, developing a healthy 155 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 174 pounds-feet of torque @ 1600 rpm while coupled with a slick 9-speed auto gearbox. Suspension is handled by an independent MacPherson strut front while the rear gets a Watts link, which ensures that the vehicle is steady and agile around rough surfaces on the road. An electric power rack-and-pinion steering guides the Trailblazer to its destination.
A dual-port grille with a centered black bowtie Chevy emblem integrates with wraparound headlights and LED daytime running lights to boost the SUV’s bold appearance. It is a performance-oriented SUV as evidenced by the red RS (rally sport) emblazoned in the front grille and rear bumper. The interior is practical with plentiful head and legroom for rear-seat passengers. The clear compass and driver information center, sandwiched between the analog speedometer and tachometer, is functional. Red stitch accents on the black interior give the Trailblazer a rich ambience. Other comforts include single auto a/c, 7-inch touchscreen for nav, phone and audio controls, 10-way power driver and four-way manual front-passenger simulated leather seats and a robust flat tilt/telescopic leather steering column.
Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, remote keyless entry, antiskid system, rear camera, lane keep assist with departure warning, forward collision alert, three-point safety belts for front, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
Base-priced at just $26,000, the Trailblazer is a welcome and much-needed addition to the Chevy SUV lineup. The turbo power train is quiet and responsive with quick acceleration, remarkable handling and steering experience. And thanks to all-wheel drive, the cargo- and people-hauler delivers a no-frills ride, even off the beaten path!
TRAILBLAZER AWD (RS)
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Length: 173.7 inches
Weight: 3,289 pounds
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons
City: 26 mpg
Highway: 30 mpg
Price as tested: $30,580
Web site: www.chevrolet.com
Nitish S. Rele, editor/publisher of Motoring Tampa Bay and Khaas Baat (www.khaasbaat.com), was an automotive editor/columnist for The Tampa Tribune.