Chevrolet resurrected the Trailblazer name for the 2021 model year on a subcompact SUV that’s larger than the Lilliputian Trax and but smaller than the Equinox. The name was last used on a traditional midsized body-on-frame SUV in 2009.
By contrast, this new Trailblazer is a unibody crossover, and considerably smaller. Stylistically and mechanically, it’s very similar to the Buick Encore GX, so if you’re considering a higher trim level of the Trailblazer, you may want to compare the two.
As you might expect of a subcompact crossover, the Trailblazer comes with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Chevrolet offers this petite wagon in ascending LS, LT, ACTIV and RS trim levels. Of the trims, ACTIV is the most off-road oriented, while RS models wear a trendy blackout look.
Given these were all-new for 2021, changes for 2022 are minimal. A heated steering wheel is standard on ACTIV and RS models, and optional on the LT. On the more practical side, dealer-installed roof rack cross rails and a trailering package with hitch, harness, and bezel are now optional.
Chevrolet provided an ACTIV all-wheel drive model for testing.
Our ACTIV trim level wore a two-tone paint job that added some life to its otherwise generic exterior, with its Vivid Orange Metallic hue was offset by a white roof. For the new model year, Chevrolet offers a number of new colors, including Crimson Metallic, Blue Glow Metallic, Vivid Orange Metallic and Mahogany Red Metallic.
Don’t let this truck’s small size fool you; it’s roomier than you suspect. Despite its 173.5-inch length, there’s 25.3 cubic feet of storage space; 54.4 cubic feet with the 40/60 split rear seats folded. In fact, the Trailblazer’s cabin can accommodate an 8-foot-long item angled from the folding front passenger seat to the rear driver’s side.
The cabin offers room for adults in the second row, and leg and headroom are more generous than you might assume. Interior ambience is commensurate with price, with pleasingly textured plastics, and it functions well enough, but is charmless and unimaginative in its design.
The driving position is comfortable, and the outward visibility is good. Its tall overall height makes it easy to get in and out of, despite its size.
Base Trailblazers come with front-wheel drive mated to a 137-horsepower, 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine or a 155-horsepower 1.3-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine. Front-wheel drive is standard with either engine. A Continuously Variable Transmission is standard with front-wheel drive; a 9-speed automatic is standard with all-wheel drive. Choosing all-wheel drive also nets you the larger engine.
The EPA rates the Trailblazer’s fuel economy at 28 mpg in combined city/highway driving when equipped with the turbocharged 1.3-liter 3-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. Opting for front-wheel drive instead increases that number to 31 mpg, a 9.7% difference, and can save you about $150 annually in fueling costs, according to the EPA.
The 1.2-liter engine, which we didn’t get that chance to test, is rated at 30 mpg and will cost $50-$100 less per year to fuel than the 1.3-liter, but its more modest power may make it worth paying a small premium for the larger engine.
Its towing capacity is rated at 1,000 pounds.
Safety and Technology
Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, Forward Collision Alert and automatic headlamps are standard. Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert are part of a $345 Driver Confidence Package.
NHTSA tested the 2022 Trailblazer and awarded it five stars in overall crash safety, front and side crash protection, and four stars in rollover protection. The IIHS rated the 2022 model “Good” in all areas of crashworthiness, and rated the mechanically identical 2021 model a “Top Safety Pick+” its top designation.
The Trailblazer’s standard infotainment system comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen. An 8-inch screen is optional as part of the $1,620 Technology Package which also adds adaptive cruise control, wireless charging, Bose premium audio, HD Radio, SiriusXM, SD card reader, HD rear vision camera, 4.2-inch digital information display, and LED headlamps. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capability are available as well.
2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV AWD specifications:
|Dimension||L: 173.5 inches/W: 71.2 inches/H: 65.7 inches/Wheelbase: 103.9 inches|
|Powertrain||1.3-liter turbocharged DOHC 6-cylinder engine, 9-speed automatic transmission, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||26 mpg city/30 mpg highway/28 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $27,200; As tested: $31,900 including $1,195 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Driving the Trailblazer with its larger engine and all-wheel drive gives you the most power and the 9-speed automatic is preferable to the CVT. The Trailblazer provides responsive power around town, and while at speed. But longer sprints, such as entering an interstate, takes a bit more time. Its size and tight turning radius make it easy ideal for the cut and thrust of urban motoring warfare.
The cabin becomes fairly noisy as speed builds, however, and broken pavement delivers a harsh ride typical of this class. Also, given the hardworking nature of this diminutive powerplant, there’s an abundance of engine vibration, particularly around town, which explains why a massaging seat isn’t optional; you don’t need one.
It delivers self-assured handling, although there is some body lean in corners, but it’s far from excessive. Nevertheless, it’s not sporty, but maneuverable enough for the task at hand. And it makes for a decent long-distance cruiser, something not generally true of smaller vehicles.
The Trailblazer is a modestly stylish, modestly sized crossover that makes for a decent daily driver. Its practically designed interior and overall package is impressive, and overall performance is good as a daily driver. That said, be careful if you load it up too fully; you might be able to get a similar version wearing the Buick nameplate for similar money.
2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV AWD – Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I pay for a 2022 Chevy Trailblazer?
Prices start at $21,600 for the base LS FWD model, $23,800 for the LT, and $25,700 for the RS or ACTIV. If you want all-wheel drive, it’s a $1,500 upgrade for the ACTIV and RS trims.
Does the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer have a sunroof?
If you choose the $1,770 Sun and Liftgate Package, which adds a panoramic sunroof and hands-free programmable power liftgate.
What is the difference between the 2021 and 2022 Trailblazer?
Not much. A heated steering wheel is standard on ACTIV and RS models, and optional on the LT. On the more practical side, dealer-installed roof rack cross rails and a trailering package with hitch, harness and bezel are now optional.