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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Performance

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Performance Review


Performance: 6.2

The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer has rather unrefined driving dynamics. Acceleration is slow, the ride quality is firm, and the SUV doesn’t feel especially nimble in tight turns. On the plus side, its fuel economy is pretty good for a subcompact SUV.

  • "We tested an all-wheel-drive RS model and can both subjectively and objectively conclude that the Trailblazer is slow. The turbo-three offers a decent amount of low-end grunt, but it quickly gives up as revs climb and speeds increase. The 50-to-70-mph merge onto a freeway is a 7.0-second affair, plenty of time to gesture to your fellow motorists to please let you in. Hitting 60 mph takes a leisurely 9.4 seconds, and the quarter mile passes in a yawn-inducing 17.1 seconds." -- Car and Driver
  • "In ordinary driving, there's nothing that conveys agility or sportiness. The steering is overly light and short on feedback. Throw in some body lean and that makes the Trailblazer feel rather dull in corners." -- Consumer Reports
  • "It's a shame about the lack of suspension refinement, because in all other respects the Trailblazer puts in a good effort." -- Automobile Magazine

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engine: 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: continuously variable automatic (CVT) in FWD models; nine-speed automatic in AWD models

Some critics think the Trailblazer’s tiny three-cylinder engines provide adequate grunt when shuttling the Trailblazer around town at low speeds, but almost all agree that the SUV is desperately short on power at higher speeds. The CVT and nine-speed transmissions do a fine job of keeping these engines within their powerband though, which helps mitigate this modest power.

  • "Enthusiasts will be bored by the Trailblazer’s driving characteristics. The muted three-cylinder sadly doesn’t sound like much from the driver’s seat. And it’s fairly blah off the line, even with the 1.3-liter, nine-speed auto and all-wheel drive. Chevy doesn’t quote a time, but our butt dyno suggests a 0-60 of about 8.5 seconds. A not-insignificant amount of lag between foot down and forward thrust is to blame for some of its laziness." -- Autoblog
  • "… there's healthy low-end and mid-range torque that makes the car feel punchy and responsive. It runs out of breath on the top end, and the computer will never let you get within 1,000 RPM of the noted redline, but the gear ratios are neatly spaced and drop you right back into the torque with an upshift. You don't notice how slow the car actually is until you floor it getting on the freeway or try to make a pass at freeway speeds. Chevy estimates an 8.7-second 0-60 time, and it seems very optimistic." -- Motor Trend
  • "Our test Trailblazer scooted away from traffic lights, merged onto fast-moving freeways without breaking a sweat, and had no problem keeping up with 75-mph traffic. Foot-to-the-floor acceleration shows the engine's limitations, but we almost never had to put our foot to the floor. Much of the credit goes to the nine-speed automatic with which the 1.3-liter is paired. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly and does its best to keep the engine in its powerband." -- Automobile Magazine

MPG Estimates

The Trailblazer gets pretty good fuel economy for a subcompact SUV.

  • 1.2-liter, FWD: 28/31 mpg city/highway
  • 1.3-liter, FWD: 29/33 mpg
  • 1.3-liter, AWD: 26/30 mpg

Handling and Braking

There’s a hit-or-miss quality to the Chevy Trailblazer’s handling and ride. The steering is quick and lightly weighted, which helps the Trailblazer maneuver easily at low speeds, but it can be a chore to keep the vehicle centered in its lane at higher speeds. Also, there isn’t much body lean felt around turns.

Ride comfort largely depends on the trim level. The Trailblazer L, LS, and LT models provide a relatively firm but comfortable ride over broken pavement, but the Activ and RS models tend to jitter and jolt uncomfortably over bumps and dips because of their larger wheels and stiffer suspension tuning.

  • "The handling is fine—we don't expect a small crossover to corner like a Supra, and the Trailblazer's strong grip and accurate steering response are better than we expect from a vehicle in this class. No, what really turned us off was the refinement, or rather the lack thereof. Ride quality is acceptable only on the smoothest of pavement, but the Trailblazer crashes over bumps with unwarranted drama. Rough pavement had our Trailblazer shaking and quaking to the point that we began to wonder if the springs had gone off on a lunch break." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Quick steering gives it an agile feeling around town, but the RS and Activ models we drove were darty at highway speeds. It takes some getting used to, particularly on the highway when attempting minor course corrections to keep the Chevy on track. The quick steering is more appreciated on a twisty road, but the Trailblazer doesn't impart a feeling of eagerness in the same way that the sportier-feeling Mazda CX-30 does. What's more, the Trailblazer RS's 18-inch wheels lead to a rough ride. And we didn't find the Activ's 17-inch wheels and taller tire sidewalls to provide much more compliance." -- Car and Driver
  • "Tiny SUVs in this class typically tend to serve up a rough ride. Not so with the Trailblazer; it soaks up most bumps and broken pavement in a civilized manner." -- Consumer Reports
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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

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