Do you remember the Chevy Trailblazer? You know, the SUV that came standard with all-wheel drive and the option of a burly 5.3L V8 engine? Good. Now, forget all about it. This new Trailblazer crossover is based on a small-car platform, equipped with a 1.2L engine and front-wheel drive as standard equipment.
Wait, wait – before you click to the next page, consider the Trailblazer’s new mission. The majority of shoppers are choosing to trade into a slightly-taller-than-a-car vehicle but still seek to keep a lid on operating costs, making a case for this new micro-ute. A total of 137 turbocharged horsepower and 162lb.-ft of torque is adequate in a vehicle weighing somewhere in the neighbourhood of just 3000lbs. For comparison, this thing puts down a footprint just slightly larger than a Mini Countryman.
The base LS model is priced at $23,698 and comes with safety kit like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping as standard equipment. A 7-inch colour touchscreen takes care of infotainment duties while incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. GM likes to tout their 4G LTE wifi hotspot but remember you’ll be on the hook for data charges if you choose to keep the connection after the trial period ends.
Seats are cloth, as you’d expect at this price in this segment, and can be adjusted in a limited number of ways but the steering wheel does adjust for both reach and rake. Air conditioning is also standard along with power accessories. Score one for economies of scale.
Snazzy 17-inch painted aluminium wheels are an exterior treat, as are colour-keyed door handles and active grille shutters that help fuel economy. Annoyingly, Chevy only offers the shade of Summit White as a $0 option and chooses to paint the mirrors a flat black.
What We’d Recommend
If the budget permits, make the $2000 walk to an LS trim with all-wheel drive. The introduction of power to all four wheels upgrades the engine to a 1.3L turbo with 20 more horsepower and bins the CVT ‘box in favour of a nine-speed transmission with real gears. Spending a further two grand on the next-level LT trim warrants caution, given the relative lack of extra features and similarly restrictive colour palette, while the $30,000+ RS model is squarely in the much-larger Equinox wheelhouse.