The Chevrolet lineup has featured a new utility vehicle since April: the Trailblazer. In a way, it was the small SUV that was missing, because, in the hierarchy of the brand’s models, it bridges the gap between the Trax and the Blazer and Equinox. It therefore targets a clientele increasingly fond of small vehicles which … do not appear too small!
With the Trailblazer, GM is targeting buyers of Hyundai Kona, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru Crosstrek and Honda HR-V. These are four of the five small utilities (compact or subcompact, it depends) the most popular in the country today (the fifth being the Nissan Kicks, a smaller model than the Qashqai).
This niche hardly existed ten years ago. Remember: in 2010, Nissan released the Juke, a Lilliputian-sized utility that many have ridiculed. Nonetheless, it was the precursor of a niche grouping today more than twenty models of all brands. Even the manufacturers of luxury vehicles offer them. However, these SUVs are substituting more and more every day for the subcompact and compact cars that we see disappearing one after the other!
Among these small SUVs, some have a look that is similar to that of a car (Kona, CX-3, etc.), while others maintain the angular and massive style of traditional utilities (Venue, Seltos, etc. .). The Trailblazer is one of them. Close relative of the Buick Encore GX, with which it shares its platform and powertrains, the small Chevrolet is distinguished by an elegant silhouette, enhanced by the two-tone paintwork reserved for the high-end versions of Activ and RS. This silhouette has, moreover, nothing in common with that of the Trax (a model which is slow to be renewed) and rather recalls the new Blazer by its oversized grille and its recessed headlights.
And yet, the dimensions of the Trailblazer reveal that it is not that different from the Trax. Its forms are simply better proportioned thanks, among other things, to a longer body (4.4 m against 4.2 for the Trax). Because its chassis has a wheelbase barely greater (+85 mm). In addition, its body is only 32 mm wider, while the height of the various versions is close to a few millimeters near those of the Trax, just like its front and rear tracks for that matter.
Plus, although it’s lighter, the new Chevrolet is only marginally more spacious inside. The front seats are very welcoming and the bucket seats are comfortable on long rides. The rear seats, on the other hand, are more suitable for young children, especially if the front seats are occupied by tall people. In addition, the trunk presents one of the most interesting gains compared to the Trax: a higher useful volume. When the 60/40 rear seat backrests are in place, there is 35% more volume than in the Trax and when folded, the gain is around 12%.
Very versatile interior
The designers of this Chevrolet also gave it a popular feature of the Trax: the folding backrest of the front passenger seat. When it is folded forward along with the rear seat backrests, it is possible to load items up to 2.4 m (8 ft). Objects as bulky as a paddle board, for example. Naturally, to transport this kind of object, the driver must sacrifice the other places on board.
To power the Trailblazer, GM uses a pair of low-displacement supercharged three-cylinder engines. Entry-level LS and LT versions, which only have two-wheel drive (front), use a 1.2L turbo 3-cylinder engine. This 137 hp engine is mated to a variable automatic transmission. keep on going. As for the LT, Activ and RS versions equipped with all-wheel drive “on demand” (an option for the Trailblazer LT), they use a 3-cylinder turbo 1.3 L. This engine, which produces 18 hp more , delivers slightly more torque (+12 lb-ft) at lower revs: 1,600 rpm rather than 2,500, as does the 1.2L engine. Plus, it shares the 9-speed automatic 2020 Buick Envision reports.
Compared to the engine of the Trax, a 4-cylinder turbocharged 138 hp, these two three-cylinder have lower fuel consumption. Considering its small size, the four-wheel-drive Trax is indeed rather greedy, as evidenced by the 9.1 L / 100 km average attributed to it by EnerGuide. The all-wheel-drive Trailblazer (which 75% of buyers will choose, according to GM Canada) has an average rating of 8.4L (we achieved 8.5L from a 400-km test drive behind the wheel of an Activ version). This rating, which is also that of the two-wheel-drive Trax, therefore represents a 7.6% improvement over the four-wheel-drive Trax.
But, since everything is relative in this low world, there are larger utilities that achieve better averages like, for example, the Honda CR-V (7.7 L / 100 km) and the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape 1, 5 L (7.9 L / 100 km). In addition, among the small SUVs, several rival models also do better, starting with the Subaru Crosstrek whose average of 7.9 L is obtained with a full-time all-wheel drive. The Trailblazer, let’s remember, has responsive all-wheel drive (on request).
Curiously, the manufacturer has provided the four-wheel drive versions of this newcomer with a switch allowing this all-wheel drive to be deactivated, under the pretext of allowing the driver to optimize his consumption. But what is the point of paying extra for an all-wheel drive, which is also responsive, if you deactivate it? This is not to mention that we risk stupidly forgetting to switch it on when it is necessary!
On the highway, the Trailblazer’s power steering is too light. On the other hand, in town, this utility shines by its maneuverability and, naturally, its reduced dimensions which allow it to slip everywhere. Moreover, one should not expect to break speed records with this vehicle. The 1.3L engine allows the Trailblazer to go from 0 to 100 km / h in just 9 seconds. Of course, for a small urban vehicle, that’s fine. And then, this performance represents another improvement over the Trax, which requires 10.5 s to do the same!