Trailblazer: a Well-Rounded Pint-Sized SUV

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CHATHAM, Mass. – Chevrolet offers a diverse family of seven sport utility/crossover utility vehicles ranging from the subcompact Trax to the LARGE Suburban. In 2021 the brand brought back the Trailblazer moniker, a name which for years adorned a midsize, then large truck-based SUV, for a new subcompact slotted between the Trax and the Equinox.

We spent a week in a 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ, a nimble pocket-sized dynamo geared to some off-road fun as well as efficient daily transportation.

Platform gets the job done

Almost surprisingly peppy, scoot-around-town performance comes from the 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine pumping 155 horsepower and 175 pounds-feet of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission.

A driver selectable all-wheel-drive (AWD) system gets this power to the pavement as well as assisting moving through rougher terrain when the pavement ends. (Front-wheel drive can be selected to improve fuel efficiency when the added traction of AWD is not necessary.)

The Activ model we drove has eight inches of ground clearance and a revised front fascia to further improve driving over unseen low obstacles. Additional exterior differentiation on the Active includes two-tone roof, standard roof rails and trapezoid-shaped exhaust tips.

The Activ trim also has unique shock-absorber tuning to enhance vehicle performance and ride comfort when traveling on gravel roads. The standard Hankook Sport Terrain 17-inch tires feature an aggressive shoulder design and an all-season tread pattern.

The wheels are 17-inch black aluminum, mounted with the aforementioned Hankook 225/60R17 sport terrain tires.

The braking system includes four-wheel, power-assisted disc brakes with Duralife™ rotors (11.8-inches up front, 10.4 in the rear); brake drying, ABS and brake-life monitoring.

All the platform and powertrain pieces work well, providing a compliant ride and reassuring handling whether on a gravel track, curvy Cape Cod Bay roads or highways.

Comprehensive ADAS suite

All Trailblazer trims come with a solid list of standard advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and active safety and driver assistance features, like:

  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Front Pedestrian Braking
  • IntelliBeam Headlamps (Auto High Beam Assist)
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
  • Rear Vision Camera
  • Rear Seat Reminder
  • Following-Distance Indicator

The Driver Confidence Package, a $345 option, brings:

  • Rear Park Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Lane-Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert

This adds up to a very complete group of ADAS, especially on a vehicle in this price range. Opting for value and efficiency does not mean having to forgo the reassurance of modern driving aids which enhance safe motoring.

Technology fills the interior

The Trailblazer Activ’s driver sits in a leatherette (to withstand a more active lifestyle) seat with 10-way power adjustment (including lumbar support) and heat (both front seats). The tilting/telescoping steering wheel is also heated, thus making finding a comfortable position just a matter of spending the time to do so (even in the raw, New England autumn weather).

A pair of colorful screens comprise the most visual elements of the $1,600 Technology Package. The first is the 4.2-inch electronic information cluster behind the steering wheel, the second the eight-inch touch screen at the heart of the infotainment system. A Bose seven-speaker sound system amplifies the infotainment’s audio, sources for which include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio.

Inclusion of the $520 Convenience Package means the air conditioning is now part of the single-zone automatic climate-controls system. It also means there is an A/C vent for the rear-seat passengers as well as a USB port for them.

Good numbers – both at the pump and in the dealership

Pushing the Trailblazer, as I do every vehicle which comes into my driveway, around Cape Cod was fun – the size of it helps maneuverability when compared to larger SUVs. No matter how hard I drove it, the small Chevy never dropped below 28 miles per gallon, ending the week and 400 miles or so of driving at 29.2 mpg (the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 28 overall, 30 on the highway and 26 in the city; numbers very realistic).

Fuel economy figures close to 30 mpg are terrific for any SUV and coupled with the Trailblazer’s price, mean this is an efficient way to get such a vehicle. The range comes starts at $21,600 for a FWD and you can craft one which fits your needs, up to a comprehensively equipped AWD RS or Activ for $26,195.

The 2022 Trailblazer AWD Activ I sampled, including the option packages mentioned above, and a few others (plus an $1,195 destination charge) came in at $31,365, a very competitive figure in this class.

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Chevrolet offers virtually any size, configuration and style sport utility you might want or need. The Trailblazer provides a terrific set of features in a roomy, comfortable subcompact package – perfect for those wanting some off-road capability, but not needing a large vehicle.

Next week TBR Drives the redesigned Nissan Frontier compact pickup truck.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.