DETROIT - The Chevrolet Blazer has been roasted in ... well, a blaze of criticism for not being like the new Ford Bronco. Unlike the wildly anticipated Ford, the mid-size Chevy isn't sparking passion because it has forsaken its roots as a rugged truck-based SUV.
Its sibling - the subcompact 2021 Chevy Trailblazer - is feeling the heat, too. The original 1999 Trailblazer was a premium trim of the Blazer. "We want our old ladder-frame, rugged Trailblazer back," cries the internet peanut gallery.
"Chevy just ruined the Trailblazer name, too," huffs Top Speed.
"The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer is a total letdown," stomps Motor Biscuit.
"The Trailblazer nameplate has been used on a unibody crossover instead of a body-on-frame off-roader as it was in its previous iteration," moans CarBuzz.
I get it. The new Trailblazer is different. Peter Gabriel left Genesis to go solo and who the heck is this Phil Collins guy? Kirstie Alley followed Shelley Long and now "Cheers" is ruined! Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker?
To be honest, I know as much about those cultural earthquakes as I do the old Trailblazer. Which is to say, very little. I never drove one.
So instead of comparing "Trailblazer: The Sequel" to the original, I'm going to compare it to its current competitive set. Namely the Mazda CX-30, the best subcompact crossover I've driven.
Because that's what the Chevy Trailblazer is now: A smaller SUV squeezed between the entry-level Trax and the compact Equinox. With its stylish design and high-tech interior, it's supposed to whet your thirst for the Blazer, should you covet a $40,000 mid-size ute.
The Trailblazer makes a very compelling case for itself. Indeed, along with the CX-30, my fellow jurors voted the Trailblazer a semifinalist for 2021 North American Utility of the Year.