Tuesday, 23 January 2024 05:05

Tested: 2024 Chevy Trailblazer Is Outshined by Its Smaller Sibling

A refresh can't save Chevrolet's subcompact SUV from being upstaged by the Trax, which is both more affordable and more appealing.

It's embarrassing to be upstaged by a little sibling. Just ask the Chevrolet Trailblazer, a subcompact SUV that's been around since 2021. The underachieving Trax sitting next to it in the showroom never really gave the Trailblazer cause for concern, until the redesigned 2024 Trax showed up with a whole new outlook on life. The new Trax promises more space, appealing style, and new features—all for significantly less money—and we just awarded it a 10Best Trucks and SUVs trophy. It is already encroaching on the Trailblazer's sales numbers, too, outselling it in the third quarter of 2023.

HIGHS: Cheeky looks, refined ride, strong brakes.

The Trailblazer is doing its best to stay relevant, and a refresh for the 2024 model year brings bigger screens inside, freshened looks, and new colors. But the Trailblazer is facing an uphill battle against its significantly cheaper stablemate—and against other vehicles in this competitive segment.

One might wonder why Chevrolet bothers to sell both the Trax and the Trailblazer. These two models are an example of a split that's evident within the subcompact-crossover segment. The Trax is meant to compete with the smaller, front-wheel-drive-only pseudo-hatchbacks that exist on the lower end of the price spectrum—think Kia Soul, Hyundai Venue, and Nissan Kicks—while the taller Trailblazer is meant to be a "real" SUV (in that it offers optional all-wheel drive, at least) that costs a bit more and has a more upright shape.

LOWS: Sluggish acceleration, cheap interior materials, questionable value.

It's not entirely an illusion, either, as the Trailblazer has a higher seating position than the Trax by more than two inches, according to our measurements. And, if you select all-wheel drive, the Trailblazer does offer a more compelling optional powertrain, a 155-hp 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with a nine-speed automatic transmission (as opposed to a CVT in other Trailblazers and a six-speed automatic in the Trax). There is a bit more refinement to be found in the Trailblazer, too, as its heavier curb weight creates more of a planted feeling on the road. We like the way the Trailblazer steers, and its brake pedal exhibits good feel, bringing the SUV to a rest from 70 mph in just 166 feet.

But when you look more closely at the numbers, paying more for the Trailblazer starts to make less and less sense. The Trax's longer wheelbase means it offers slightly more passenger room, and it even has a bit more cargo room with the seats folded, swallowing 21 carry-on suitcases in our testing compared with the Trailblazer's 19. Plus, the Trax's 1.2-liter engine is barely at a disadvantage next to the heavier Trailblazer's 1.3-liter. The Trax gets to 60 mph just 0.1 second slower and had a slightly better performance in our real-world 75-mph highway fuel-economy test (30 mpg, versus 29 mpg for the Trailblazer).

The price difference is what really makes the fight seem unfair. The Trax's base price sits at just $21,495, while a comparable Trailblazer is nearly $3000 dearer. The disparity grows when you start piling on options, as our loaded Trailblazer RS AWD—admittedly thick with desirable extras such as a panoramic sunroof and a power liftgate, neither of which the Trax offers—stickered for $34,470. A loaded Trax, on the other hand, barely crests $27,000.

VERDICT: The Trailblazer suffers from the existence of the more compelling Trax.

If you're merely looking to spend as little money as you can on a satisfying crossover-esque small car, the high-value Trax is a no-brainer. But if you're willing to shell out more for things like all-wheel drive and interior niceties, several more attractive options exist within the Trailblazer's price range, including the Mazda CX-30 and the Kia Seltos. That leaves the Trailblazer stuck in an awkward liminal space, with little to recommend it unless you manage to snag an attractive discount.

Specifications 2024 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS AWD

Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

Base/As Tested: $29,995/$34,470

Options: power panoramic sunroof, $1495; Convenience package (automatic climate control, rear type-A and -C USB ports, wireless device charging, 120-volt outlet, auto-dimming interior mirror, driver and passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, power liftgate), $1195; Adaptive Cruise and Sound package (7-speaker Bose sound system, adaptive cruise control), $995; Fountain Blue paint, $395; Driver Confidence package (blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross-traffic alert, rear park assist), $395

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 82 in3, 1338 cm3
Power: 155 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 174 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm

9-speed automatic

Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, F/R: 11.8-in vented disc/10.4-in disc
Tires: Continental ProContact TX
245/45R-19 98H M+S TPC Spec 3178

Wheelbase: 103.9 in
Length: 173.5 in
Width: 71.2 in
Height: 65.7 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 50/45 ft3
Cargo Volume, behind F/R: 54/25 ft3
Curb Weight: 3390 lb

60 mph: 8.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.7 sec @ 83 mph
100 mph: 28.0 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 9.5 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.5 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 166 ft

Observed: 23 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 29 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 380 mi

Combined/City/Highway: 27/26/29 mpg

Source: caranddriver.com

More in this category: « 2024 Chevrolet Trax

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