Fashion-Forward Design. Most automakers don’t focus on styling with their subcompact SUVs. The vehicles are seen as affordable, versatile machines for consumers that want something easy to drive. Styling usually takes a backseat. With the 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer, Chevy has taken a different route. In the subcompact class, the Trailblazer is one of the few options that stand out for having a stylish design.
While lower trims are a little plain, higher trims are available with a contrasting roof, more impressive wheel designs, and touches that result in a more aggressive design. The Activ brings a more rugged touch with 17-inch wheels, sport terrain tires, and a skid plate. The RS is the sportiest-looking trim in the lineup with 18-inch black wheels, red accents, and dual exhaust outlets. The Trailblazer may not have a sporty bolt in its body, but there’s no denying how sharp the RS trim looks.
The interior design of the Trailblazer isn’t nearly as exciting as the exterior, but it’s a clean design that should age well. Angular air vents, a center console that juts out of the dashboard, large controls, and a recessed infotainment screen highlight the SUV’s straightforward look.
Surprisingly Roomy. With its subdued interior and low-quality materials, the Trailblazer’s interior fails to excite. What the Trailblazer’s cabin does incredibly well is provide passengers with a roomy interior.
The Trailblazer has 98.2 cubic feet of passenger space, which is a competitive amount for the subcompact class. The SUV impresses with 40.9 inches of front legroom and 39.4 inches of rear legroom. The rear seats are especially roomy for the segment, with two adults having enough space to sit comfortably in the back. A tall roofline and large windows add to the Trailblazer’s spacious feel.
There aren’t a lot of subcompact SUVs that offer the same amount of cargo space as the Trailblazer. The SUV has 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 54.4 cubic feet of cargo space in total. The front passenger seat also folds down to store larger cargo.
Lethargic Three-Cylinder Performance.Chevrolet offers the Trailblazer with two different three-cylinder engines. Neither offers performance that we would call impressive. The base engine is woefully underpowered, while the optional motor fails to feel like a large upgrade.
The standard turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine delivers 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The horsepower figure isn’t terrible for the segment, but the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) saps all of the power from the engine. This engine feels slow around town and downright scary on the highway, as passing takes minutes, not seconds.
A turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine is available starting with the LT trim for an extra $400. With 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, one would assume that the engine has far better performance, but that isn’t the case. Even the available engine feels slow off the line, but it’s far more usable around town. At least the larger 1.3-liter engine comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission that’s far better than the base CVT at delivering shifts.
Despite having a tiny three-cylinder engine and low power figures, the Trailblazer doesn’t lead the class for fuel economy. The 1.3-liter engine can get up to 31 mpg combined while adding AWD to the engine brings fuel economy down to 28 mpg combined. These figures trail behind the Nissan Kicks, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Hyundai Kona.
Stick With A Lower Trim. With a starting price tag of $22,995 (with destination), the Trailblazer is a decent value option. It comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and keyless entry. The subcompact SUV also comes with a lengthy list of safety features that include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.
We think the LT is the sweet spot in the lineup, as it’s the first one to be available with the must-have 1.3-liter engine. For an extra $2,200, you’re not getting a lot more features, as the LT adds cruise control, remote start, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, push-button start, and heated front seats. The LT is available with multiple packages, though they’re hardly well-priced.
The higher up the Trailblazer lineup you go, the worse the value gets. The Activ and RS trims start at $27,095, which is high for a vehicle with this kind of performance, an 8-inch touchscreen, an available Bose audio system, and an optional wireless charging pad. Your money will go much further with other subcompact SUVs.
Final Thoughts. The 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the better-looking subcompact SUVs and one of the roomier ones, but these qualities aren’t enough to look past the SUV’s lifeless performance, poor value, lack of high-tech features, and harsh ride. There are so many other subcompact SUVs in the segment that outshine the Trailblazer that it’s hard to recommend.
For consumers that want to do some real off-roading, there’s the Subaru Crosstrek. It comes standard with AWD, offers up to 55.3 cubic feet of cargo space, has a roomy interior, and is available with a 182-hp engine.
The Mazda CX-30 is one of the few subcompact SUVs that could fool people into believing it’s a luxury vehicle. It has a high-end interior, first-class materials, upscale features, and an available 250-hp turbocharged engine.
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