Cars go in and out of style, and some models are well left in the past. The Vega or Pinto, anyone? Sometimes it’s bad design, but other times it’s more of a fashion issue or a buyer community that finds a new obsession and leaves a particular vehicle in the obsolete lot behind the dealership. But just like how movies and TV shows revive sleepers, car companies are starting to do the same thing, and it’s great fun to watch and see which new releases resonate with the public. Chevrolet did just that in 2019 with the reintroduction of the classic Chevy Blazer (well, “Trailblazer”, but everyone calls it a Blazer). With the introduction of the popular – and bigger – Chevy Tahoe in 1995, the Blazer ended up somewhat an also-ran and in 2005 the company stopped production entirely. Until its revival last year.
Lots changes in vehicle tech and driver expectations in fifteen years, so it’s no surprise that the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS would be almost unrecognizable to an original Blazer owner. Indeed, all SUVs have gained the sleek lines and sophistication formerly reserved for luxury vehicles not even twenty years ago. Here’s the Scarlet Red Metallic Blazer I had a chance to drive for a week:
As you can see, it’s a very attractive SUV and definitely more designed for on-road hauling the family around than off-road crawling through the arroyo to get to Grandpa’s cabin in the woods. For 2021 the Trailblazer has three engine options and three drive modes depending on terrain too. This particular model featured an EcoTec 1.3L turbo with 9-speed automatic transmission. Non-AWD models have a continuously variable transmission which is even smoother on the road.
In fact, the Blazer is bursting with cool tech of all sorts, and was the first vehicle I’ve driven that featured wireless CarPlay. Which is a no-brainer fantastic feature and one that instantly makes all the cars where you have to plug in your iPhone feel dorky and obsolete. It also has wireless Android Auto, so you’re not left out if you’re an Android fan instead. Even with that, there’s a convenient Qi wireless charging spot just in front of the gear shift so between them it truly is a wireless entertainment and navigational experience:
You can see that there are a lot of options here, from a classic 12V power adapter (or cigarette lighter, if you’re really old school), USB-C, USB-3.0, an AUX plug, SD Card slot and, of course, the wireless charging in the middle. Notice also, however, the scuff marks: for a vehicle that had gentle use for just a few thousand miles, there were a couple of spots in the interior that surprised me with their wear and tear. If it looks like this at 2500 miles, what’s it going to look like at 75,000 miles?
Stepping back just a bit, here’s the full dashboard and driver’s cockpit layout:
Very well designed, convenient controls right where you need them and a big infotainment screen – Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus – that worked quite well, particularly with the wireless CarPlay, as I mentioned earlier.
The 2021 Trailblazer may be a mid-size SUV but much of the interior design felt more like a high end luxury tech vehicle, including the main gauge system. At night, the colors and information display are pretty sweet:
Notice also the darn impressive fuel efficiency. I was startled to see such excellent fuel efficiency with my vehicle. I averaged in the mid 30’s for a week of highway and city driving, which is even better than the EPA rating for this particular SUV. Which, yes, is a definite first.
Jumping back to the Infotainment system, by now I think we’re all used to this sort of design and layout:
It’s notoriously hard to get the entertainment system on a car right for all users – there are constant complaints on social media about user experience, info systems and navigational interfaces for just about every car manufacturer – but this did feel pretty straightforward, including the combination of touchscreen user controls and physical knob and buttons for power, volume, and related.
Speaking of which, it was a delight to notice that the rear passengers not only had a USB-3 and USB-C charging port, but they also have, hidden behind that cover, a 120V power plug too. Definitely kid passenger friendly:
Which is good because with the front seat back for a tall driver, there wasn’t oodles of rear passenger room:
Functional for the little ones, but if you’re toting adults around the driver and front passenger might have to move their seats up a bit to improve rear passenger comfort.A solvable problem, however.
And all the way in the back, the Blazer has a ton of storage and cargo space:
You can also see that the rear seats flip down in that popular 60/40 configuration too. All in all, lots of capacity for the latest supplies from the hardware store, sports gear for the big game, a lot of shopping from Costco or a tent and camping gear for your next adventure.
The 2021 Chevy Blazer also features a baker’s dozen of safety features including automatic emergency braking, pedestrian braking, lane assist, intellibeam auto high beams, a following distance indicator and much more. Given that we are becoming increasingly distracted drivers, I think it’s a good thing that car manufacturers are adding all this tech to compensate. Otherwise I think we’d have 10x the number of accident injuries that we have every day on the roads and highways.
Though you wouldn’t know the vehicle was full o’ tech from the sporty appearance of the Blazer in this cheery Scarlet Red:
I was impressed with the Blazer and found it a fun and comfortable drive, though its performance from a stop was a bit lagging. If you want to bunny-hop off the line, either a bigger engine option or maybe a hybrid or EV are going to better fit your desires (the Chevy Bolt EV is delightful off a stop, but that’s a totally different engine technology). A fair number of vehicles have that performance quirk in the relatively high elevation of Boulder, Colorado (our elevation is just a few feet over one mile above sea level), however.
Is this a solid option for a growing family SUV or a utility vehicle for someone or a couple that hauls gear around and would prefer to buy American? Definitely, though 44% of the vehicle parts are from Korea and another 29% from Mexico. In fact, this vehicle was assembled in Bupyeong-gu, Korea (just west of Seoul), and shipped by boat to the United States. We live in a global economy with globally sourced products, but at least Chevy itself is a US-based company. But even without that, the Blazer is a fun and enjoyable SUV to drive and worth a close look!
AS DRIVEN: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer AWD RS in Scarlet Red Metallic with Jet Black interior. EcoTec 1.3L turbo 9-speed engine. Options included were Sun and Liftgate Package, Technology Package, Convenience Package and the amusingly named Driver Confidence Package. Base price: $26,900.00. As Driven: $32,350.00. Learn more at chevrolet.com
Disclosure: Chevrolet loaned me the Blazer for a week in return for this write up. Thanks, Chevy!