It could appeal to the unconventionally-conventional. We’ll explain.
American marque Chevrolet has (finally) launched itself head-on into the hotly-contested compact-SUV space with its 2021 Trailblazer, after its sister-brand Buick announced and revealed its 2020 Buick Encore compact-SUV for the US-market. Both cars share the same platform and likely the same powertrain setup underneath, but the Trailblazer is most certainly positioned as the more evocative and spirited of the two.
The Trailblazer was shown earlier this year in Shanghai, where many had speculated about its appeal outside of the Chinese market. Now confirmed for the US, the ironically-named Trailblazer will slot between the tiny Trax and the deceptively-large Equinox, and should appeal to a set of buyers markedly younger than those targeted by the Buick.
Aesthetics will play a major role in deciding which buyer profile goes where, with potential Chevy owners likely to be swayed by the sharp front end, with its bold grille and spit headlight setup. You have the requisite amount of body cladding to denote its SUV-ness, but you also get a flat roof that’s angled somewhat towards the rear. It’s been rumoured that on a hotter ‘RS’ variant that’ll debut in due course, that roof will be painted black.
The ‘unconventionally-conventional’ theme extends inside where, with the exception of the large touchscreen that will no doubt control most of the car’s ancillary functions, it’s all exactly as you’d expect a car to be. There are analogue dials flanking a digital screen, a regular gear lever, and the usual use of red highlights to denote the Trailblazer’s dynamic intent. It’s all very familiar, from the sort of cars that you used to buy about a decade ago.
What could perhaps lend it an air of sophistication is the standard safety features, of which Chevrolet assures there are many. AEB with pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist with departure warning are thrown in with every Trailblazer, with things like rear-park assist & smart cruise control offered as cost-options.
Performance-wise we’re not expecting major things from Chevrolet, who are unlikely to do as Mitsubishi & Toyota have done with their Eclipse Cross & C-HR and offer a small turbocharged donk for maximum fun. No, we expect to see an EcoTec four-cylinder, likely naturally-aspirated, providing the Trailblazer with vim and vigour comparable to a moist towelette.
And as they’ve been mum on performance, they’ve been equally quiet on pricing. It’s rumoured that in the US the Trailblazer will set you back US$24k on the top-end, which is perilously close to the base-model Equinox and rather far from the Trax. But that aside, we would like to see a Holden-badged version of the Trailblazer locally as a compact SUV like this could be just what the brand needs to give the lion back its roar.