2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

Economical Adventurer: Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Review

We took the Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ for a weeklong road trip to the Olympic Peninsula to see what this new CUV is all about.

On road and off, loaded with gear and empty, we put the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ to the test. This new crossover for the 2021 model year brings back an iconic name and will be identical for 2022, with just a few changes to trim-level-included content and available paint colors.

Our tester had the larger of the two engine options and the nine-speed automatic transmission, replacing the standard CTV (continuously variable transmission). Ours was also optioned with the AWD Activ system.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

We road-tripped the Trailblazer on the highway, curvy backroads, gravel roads, and steep mountain roads. We also drove it full of people and adventure gear.

Here’s what we found out about this new crossover.

Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Review

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
A small whitewater kayak and paddling gear fit without issue in the Trailblazer; (photo/Bryon Dorr)

Even with my heavy right foot and a wide range of mixed conditions over 687.5 miles, I was able to average 28.9 mpg in the AWD Trailblazer.

I found that to be pretty impressive — and in line with the EPA ratings of 26/28/30.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

The largest engine option is still small; the Ecotec 1.3L three-cylinder turbo offers up 155 ponies under the hood. I wouldn’t call the Trailblazer quick, but it can at least get out of its own way.

Hitting the little flag button on the steering wheel makes the nine-speed automatic transmission shift a bit later and makes the steering heavier, both of which are appreciated. This is how I chose to drive the vehicle most of the time.

My least favorite aspect of the Trailblazer is the horrendous — like 2- to 3.5-second — throttle delay. When I push the skinny pedal, I want the vehicle to go faster at that exact moment, not a few seconds later.

Braking is very numb but plenty effective.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

Off the pavement, the Trailblazer holds its own. It has just enough ground clearance and an AWD system that’s plenty smart. Its small size makes it quite adept at squeezing down tight trails and providing multiple line choices.

Here are the things that stood out to me, both that I liked and disliked.

Likes

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Super nice huge skylight
  • Low cabin noise for class
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Very comfortable seats for long drives, with good lumbar support adjustment
  • Impressively smooth ride and corners pretty flat (not much body roll)
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Bright, quality infotainment screen with intuitive functionality
  • Slick, hands-free power liftgate when you kick under the rear bumper, where bowtie is projected on the ground
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Plenty of rear passenger leg and headroom

Dislikes

  • Crazy delayed throttle response/tip-in
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Storage tray on the front passenger side dashboard is too narrow to even hold a smartphone
  • Crazy wind buffeting when rear or all windows are down

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ

  • Sun visor is not long enough for side window, making it pretty worthless
  • Poor Bose stereo sound quality
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Steering wheel is only non-cheap-feeling interior touch surface
  • Steering wheel does not telescope back far enough for tall drivers
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
  • Gold front door trim isn’t carried over anywhere else in the interior, even matching area on rear doors
  • Small cupholders

Chevrolet Trailblazer Pricing

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

While pricing for the Trailblazer starts under $23,000, our review vehicle had a $32,350 window sticker.

The price bump includes the AWD system, sunroof, and liftgate package ($1,770), technology package ($1,720), convenience package ($620), and driver confidence package ($345). All of those options are worthy ones, and this is how we’d build out a Trailblazer as an adventure vehicle.

Build out your own Chevrolet Trailblazer and find a dealer near you at Chevrolet.com.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD Activ
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)
Bryon Dorr
By

Bryon Dorr caught the outdoor adventure addiction through whitewater kayaking, and worldwide adventures to remote places ensued. He crafted his own professional path as a photographer, journalist, and marketing consultant in the automotive and outdoor industries, while full-time overland traveling for nearly 8 years. You’ll usually find him out exploring by 4x4, adventure motorcycle, or sports car while seeking out opportunities to ski, mountain bike, and kayak. Bryon now has a home base in Portland, OR with his wife and young daughter.