2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Review: Triumphantly Tiny01/06/2022
Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQ
I’m not going to give you a history lesson on the Chevrolet Trailblazer. It doesn’t matter. Companies rehash old nameplates all the time – sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t. What really matters is whether or not the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer is a compelling compact crossover in a competitive class. And ultimately, it is.
The Trailblazer stands out from the crowd with strong styling, bright paint options, and mostly visual rugged elements as part of the Activ model tested here (or sporty cues on the RS trim). It brings charm and personality to a segment that could use a bit more of it, as well as decent pep courtesy of a turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Nostalgic or not, the new Chevrolet Trailblazer is a good all-around vehicle – no wonder dealers can’t keep them on the lot.
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Gallery: 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ Review
- Exterior Color: Vivid Orange
- Interior Color: Jet Black W/Arizona
- Wheel Size: 17 Inches
Not a lot of cars can pull off the color orange, but dang, the Trailblazer wears it well. Vivid Orange ($395), a contrasting white roof, and rugged accouterments as part of the Activ trim – like additional underbody cladding and all-terrain tires – make the Trailblazer look properly tough.
All versions of the Trailblazer sport the same front fascia design, with slim LED running lights up top, headlights lower down on the bumper, and a two-piece grille. Only here, the Activ model gets extra protective plastic as opposed to the mesh-heavy grille of the RS model. And out back, yet again, there’s more cladding down low on the bumper.
The Trailblazer’s interior isn’t as funky as its outsides, featuring Chevy’s ubiquitous combo of hard black plastic and matching faux leather. At least real leather covers the steering wheel and shift knob, and there are two interesting design elements that make the cabin feel less like a copy-and-paste job: a cloth texture that lines the top of the door panel and a faux copper swoosh just below the window line.
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 25.3 / 53.8 Cubic Feet
If you want a comfy crossover for long-distance cruising, this isn’t it. The Trailblazer is loud at highway speeds, with annoying engine, wind, and tire noise echoing throughout the cabin at all times (the latter a result of those knobby all-terrains). And the ride is harsh over anything other than perfect pavement.
The seats aren’t the most form-fitting, either – it feels like you’re sitting on them rather than in them – and rear passengers get an equally un-cushy, uncomfortable second row. But at least the driver’s seat offers 10-way power adjustability with lumbar support, which meant I was able to find a decent seating position after enough fiddling. The front passenger has to make do with four-way manual seat controls and no adjustable lumbar.
The Trailblazer saves some face in this category thanks to an abundance of interior space, offering 40.0 inches of headroom up front and a near best-in-class 38.4 inches in the rear. Only the Ford Bronco Sport has more headroom up front (41.5 inches), and the Jeep Compass is barely better in the back (38.5 inches).
The Trailblazer’s 40.9 inches of front legroom and 39.4 inches of rear legroom are middling to just above average for the class, as are its 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. But fold the rear seat flat and that figure expands to an impressive 54.4 cubes.
- Center Display: 8.0-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 4.2 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes
The Trailblazer gets a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen display and a small in-cluster display located between two analog gauges. Adding the Technology package ($1,620), which my tester had, expands that central touchscreen to 8.0 inches and swells the productivity screen to a usable 4.2 inches, while also adding wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sirius XM.
Chevy’s Infotainment 3 interface is simple, but it works well. The same color-coordinated menu items, uncluttered layout, and crisp center screen carry over from other Chevy models, and the system is as easy to use as ever. Touch responsiveness is a touch laggy, but it’s the only knock against an otherwise superb setup.
Adding the Technology package also adds wireless charging in the center console and upgrades the audio system to a Bose seven-speaker premium setup, which sounds great. On top of that, the Trailblazer offers standard USB-A and USB-C ports up front with optional outlets in the second row, including a full-sized 110-volt plug. The rear outlets are optional as part of the $520 convenience package.
- Engine: Turbocharged 1.3-Liter Three-Cylinder
- Output: 155 Horsepower / 174 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Nine-Speed Automatic
“Peppy” would be a good word to describe the Trailblazer. With its turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine doling out a healthy 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet, the small crossover accelerates eagerly and offers a surprising amount of shove from a standstill. You can get a base 1.2-liter three-cylinder if you opt for one of the front-wheel-drive models, and that engine produces 137 hp.
At anything above city speeds, though, the Trailblazer quickly loses steam. You’ll have to bury your foot into the throttle to get the crossover up to 70 and keep it there; the tiny 1.3-liter engine has lots of low-end torque but lacks stamina at the top of the rev range.
Front-wheel drive comes standard on most models, but the Activ trim has part-time all-wheel drive instead – accessible via a single click of the AWD button. To add to its ruggedness, the Trailblazer sits 8.0 inches off the ground courtesy of new tires and some minor suspension tweaks, compared to the base model’s 7.0 inches.
I didn’t get a chance to test that extra capability on the trail, as Chevy promotes, but buyers in snowy states will definitely appreciate grip at all four corners and more lift. Opting for the Activ model (or any other 1.3T/all-wheel-drive combination) also swaps the standard continuously variable transmission for a smoother nine-speed automatic that was mostly inoffensive.
Where the Trailblazer and many of Chevy’s modern crossovers excel is in the corners. Press the Sport button near the shifter and Trailblazer tightens up its steering and improves its throttle response, which means you can fling it around more fervently. It still doesn’t meet the mark of “performance crossover,” but the suspension is responsive and the steering is sharp, more than what you expect of other options in this class (outside of maybe the Mazda CX-30).
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Four Stars
- IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick+
The base Trailblazer has basic active safety features like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist as part of the no-cost Chevy Safety Assist package. The Activ model adds adaptive cruise control for no additional fee – it’s a $770 option on LS and LT models – and the $345 Driver Confidence package included here adds rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and a lane-change alert with blind-spot monitoring. Beyond the lane-keep assist feature being slow to react when the car exited a lane, all of the Trailblazer’s active safety features worked well.
According to the NHTSA and IIHS, the Trailblazer scores well in crash testing. The NHTSA gives it four stars overall – five stars in front driver’s side impact and three stars in front passenger-side impact – while the IIHS scores it a Top Safety Pick+ for 2021.
- City: 26 MPG
- Highway: 30 MPG
- Combined: 28 MPG
The Trailblazer gets up to 31 miles per gallon combined with front-wheel drive and the optional turbocharged 1.3-liter engine. This Activ model, though, with part-time all-wheel drive and the optional engine, achieves 26 mpg city, 30 highway, and 28 combined. In a healthy mix of city and highway driving over a week, the Trailblazer produced just over 27 mpg according to the in-car readout.
Those aren’t terrible figures, considering the Bronco Sport and Mazda CX-30 both get 26 combined with all-wheel drive, while the Jeep Renegade achieves 27 mpg combined. But the Subaru Crosstrek is still the best of the bunch with up to 30 mpg combined, while the all-wheel-drive Kia Seltos is next best, returning 29 mpg.
- Base Price: $21,600 + $1,195
- Trim Base Price: $28,395
- As-Tested Price: $31,900
The Trailblazer is one of the most affordable crossovers in its class, with the 2022 model starting at $22,795 with $1,195 in destination fees included. Only the Hyundai Kona is cheaper, and just barely at $22,375. Opting for the Trailblazer Activ model will cost you at least $28,395 – which puts it closer to the Bronco Sport ($28,910).
The Trailblazer tested here costs $31,900 with options, with the priciest add-on of the bunch being the $1,620 Technology package. The Convenience package (auto-dimmer rearview mirror, 120-volt outlet, dual climate control) is another $520 on top of that, the Vivid Orange paint is $395, and a few other choices round out the list.
But unless Vivid Orange and a 120-volt outlet are two must-haves – I really like the paint – you could save some cash by skipping those. Otherwise, the Trailblazer is a well-equipped little crossover that’s peppy, personable, and not all that pricey.
Trailblazer Competitor Reviews:
- Ford Bronco Sport: 8.7 / 10
- Hyundai Kona: Not Rated
- Jeep Renegade: Not Rated
- Kia Seltos: 8.1 / 10
- Mazda CX-30: 7.9 / 10
- Subaru Crosstrek: 8.5 / 10
What Is The Difference Between The Trailblazer Activ And RS?
The Trailblazer Activ is the brand’s “rugged” variant. It has more cladding on the front and rear bumpers, a 1.0-inch lift over the base model, and tougher all-terrain tires. The RS model is the sporty trim, with a lower ride height, bigger rims, and sleeker styling on the front end.
Which Is Bigger, The Chevy Trailblazer Or The Equinox?
The Trailblazer is a compact crossover, measuring in at 173.5 inches long in base form. The Equinox is closer to a mid-size crossover, stretching out to 183.1 inches long.
How Much Does The Traiblazer Activ Cost?
The Traiblazer Activ model starts at $28,395 including the $1,195 destination fee. That’s an increase of $5,600 over the base Trailblazer, which starts at a reasonable $22,795 with fees included.
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