Blazing trails has such a positive tone to it. So then reversing those words should also, right? Trailblazing. What about Trailblazer? Still pretty positive images right? Now what about the Chevy Trailblazer? Still getting those warm and fuzzy feelings?
If you’re like me, the subcompact crossover (or SUV if you will) segment is pretty gelatinous and doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzy feeling. Even a vehicle like the Chevy Trailblazer, which has been around the block for more than a decade will struggle to offer up such a strong reaction, despite its name.
That doesn’t mean it’s without merit. But it’s also not without its flaws.
On looks the 2022 Trailblazer really does stand out from the crowded competition. The two-tone look is attractive and not cutesy (as is the case with others within this segment). In fact it kind of makes it quite fitting as my tester showed a white roof, but with a Thule roof rack perched atop it was quite a stout-looking vehicle that looked ready to blaze some trails.
The rounded front end accented with chrome adds even more personality. From the back, the distinction continues with a pronounced spoiler leading off the white roofline. Chrome accented exhaust tips bring the look of the Trailblazer together. All in all, the exterior aesthetics are one of the big appeals of this small crossover.
Where the Trailblazer starts to lose some of the distinction is with the powerplant. There are two engines for the 2022 version, both are turbocharged, but both are underpowered. A 1.2-liter engine is quite sluggish. My tester had the bigger 1.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylidner which still only yielded 155 horses.
Off the line, the Trailblazer hardly blazes anything. There’s some noticeable turbo lag in the lower gears. Thankfully my tester was the all-wheel drive (AWD) version because that meant it got the nine-speed automatic transmission rather than the continuously variable one found on the front-wheel drive options (no thank you!).
At highway speeds, the Trailblazer struggled and had noticeable engine noises. In the city and through twisty turns at slower speeds it was adequate. The all-wheel drive was appreciated and gave it more confidence.
Some critics have been harsh on the interior of the Trailblazer and I don’t feel that’s fair. This isn’t a luxury vehicle, so expecting there to be soft touch points throughout is unreasonable, especially for a vehicle under $30,000. Rather the leatherette seats are comfortable and there’s even some nice design accents that add to a nice interior.
There’s no wow factor, but when you look at other vehicles in this segment the real standout for the Trailblazer is in the back seat where legroom and headroom are surprisingly vast. Additionally the cargo area is above average with 25.3 cubic feet behind the seats and 54.4 cubic feet overall (seats folded flat).
The five-passenger Trailblazer has enough technology to appease both driver and passengers. The infotainment system is intuitive and the 7-inch touchscreen is responsive. Integration with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is easy and help make the overall system even better.
All in all, it’s one of the better infotainment systems in this entire segment.
My tester was one of the top trims – ACTIV AWD (strange trim name if you ask me). MSRP for this trim is $27,200 and it has an EPA rating of 26 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway.
In a week’s worth of mixed driving, I averaged nearly 27 mpg. That was okay, but for a vehicle with a small engine and that doesn’t weight a lot, I was hoping for better fuel economy. I mean if it’s going to drive kind of uninspired, at least get better fuel economy.
The Trailblazer is manufactured in Korea, but remains one of the better-known nameplates to wear the Chevy bowtie. Name recognition is important in an ultra-competitive segment like this. The Trailblazer has just enough to stand out from the competition, but also has room to improve.