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Re-imagined Chevy Trailblazer takes on class-king Mazda CX-30

By Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

Consider the high-volume LT trim I've been flogging. At $28,180, the all-wheel drive Trailblazer comes nicely equipped, just like the comparable, all-wheel drive $29,195 Mazda CX-30 Premium trim. That's not something I'm used to.

Starting with the Chevy Traverse I tested back in 2017, the current generation of Chevy sport utilities has been stingy with standard safety features. Features like adaptive cruise-control aren't standard on a Traverse until you reach the $55,590 High Country trim. Japanese manufacturers like Mazda, Subaru and Honda, on the other hand, have loaded their cars with standard cruise-control, automatic headlights, blind-spot assist and more.

So essential have these features become that Mrs. Payne won't consider a vehicle unless it has adaptive cruise and all-wheel drive for under $30,000.

Trailblazer has learned the lesson.

While not offering adaptive cruise or blind-spot assist standard (both come standard on the Mazda Preferred trim, and all Japanese/Korean competitors offer at least one of the two standard), the LT offers these important features for just $620 and $345 respectively. That's an affordable complement to standard goodies like lane-keep assist, automatic emergency-braking, automatic high-beams, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and 4G Wi-Fi. Cruising along busy eight-lane I-96, these features quickly become essential to navigate traffic.

Chevy executes handsome interiors with technology shared across model lines as diverse as Cadillac and Corvette.

 

While I'm drawn to the Mazda's premium interior with its high infotainment screen and remote rotary-controller, the Chevy's touchscreen is much more intuitive. Menus are easier to navigate; radio stations easier to store. The attention to detail in both cars belies their subcompact status.

On the outside, I've never been a fan of Chevy's too-busy split-grille fascias. But the Trailblazer (along with big brother Blazer) is one of the brand's more coherent creations. Maybe because Trailblazer is starting to look a lot like Hyundais, which have developed along similar lines with their mid-fascia headlights (upper "eyebrow" lights are running lights). Check out the new Hyundai Venue. Separated at birth.

Upper trims of the Trailblazer get nifty touches like a white Mini Cooper-esque roof (so does Hyundai). But my LT and its sporty, 17-inch wheels looked great.

That said, the Mazda CX-30 is still prom queen with its long nose, swept headlights and elegant lines. Even the overwrought fender cladding (SUV virtue-signaling) didn't spoil my white tester with its gray 18-inch wheels.

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