The Trailblazer We Deserved
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is upon us, in all of its three-cylinder, subcompact crossover glory. A far cry from prior Trailblazers, the new model moves down a few sizes to fill the gap between the Trax and Equinox, competing with vehicles like the Jeep Compass, Subaru Crosstrek, and GM’s own 2021 Buick Encore GX, the Trailblazer’s twin.
Arriving in dealerships in early 2020, the Trailblazer will likely available with only three-cylinder engines, at least from the information we’ve seen so far. The Buick Encore GX comes standard with a 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine producing 137 horsepower, with only FWD and a CVT available with that powertrain. The optional engine is a 1.3 liter three-cylinder producing 155 horsepower, again mated to a CVT unless AWD is selected, which then adds a more desirable 9-speed automatic transmission. We expect the powertrain lineup of the Trailblazer to mirror that of the Encore GX.
There’s no doubt that the Trailblazer will fill a gap in the Chevrolet lineup, but it isn’t likely to see many trails. The Trailblazer RS variant has sportier styling, but doesn’t come close to matching the appeal of the old Trailblazer SS, which had a V8 engine.
Given the trend toward crossover vehicles, GM’s decision to withhold standout features like off-road capability or performance from an otherwise ordinary, though stylish, crossover, is puzzling. In a market saturated with compact crossovers, new entries must be compelling and unique to stand out from the competition. Jeep has accomplished this with its lineup of off-road capable vehicles. Likewise, Subaru has carved out a niche with the outdoorsy crowd thanks to the popularity of the Crosstrek and Forester, while Mazda has earned a reputation for building engaging, dynamic vehicles. Ford will also release two new off-road capable SUVs soon, one of which will compete with the Trailblazer and is said to fall under the Bronco lineup. With a name like “Trailblazer,” one would have expected to find some kind of off-road capability, especially from the brand that’s using names like “Trail Boss” to describe its off-road capable full-size pickups. Since GM didn’t deliver on this, we decided to whip up a rendering of an off-road capable Trailblazer based on the new model.
Take a look and let us know what you think of this Trailblazer Z71 rendering, and what you think of the new model in general. Although the new Trailblazer will be an appealing option to someone looking for a small crossover, we can’t help but imagine the possibilities of what could happen if GM would become less insistent on cost-cutting and start delivering more of the standout vehicles that the company was known for in the past. The Trailblazer’s twin, the Buick Encore GX is making its US debut at the Los Angeles auto show, so look for more details on the US-spec Trailblazer to be available soon.
Ryan had an obsession with cars from a young age, reading NADA books and MotorTrend magazine as well as sketching cars in elementary school. He has since moved on to creating renderings in Photoshop and writing about auto news.