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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

Mazda has also been cream of class in handling; I flogged it with the confidence only a BMW X1 can rival. But GM engineers have developed a disciplined cross-brand culture of tight, lightweight chassis from the best-in-luxe Cadillac CT4 to the lightweight Chevy Silverado to the nimble Equinox.

Trailblazer is no different, and it proved fun to drive as I lake-hopped across Oakland County from Loon to Wolverine to Orchard Lake.

The Chevy's 155-horse 1.3-liter turbo-3 banger (exclusive with all-wheel drive) can't rival the Mazda's 186-horse mill, but the 174 pound-feet of torque (versus CX-30's 186) is the real value here and pulls like a mule at low revs where you want it. Both engines are attached to buttery transmissions - 6-speed Mazda, 9-speed Chevy.

Loading more bling to go with its zing, my $29,195 CX-30 had a panoramic roof and leatherette seats that the Trailblazer can only dream of. Plus, the Mazda has the best 360-degree safety system (so you can monitor other cars around you) this side of Tesla.

Trailblazer counters with impressive creature-comforts. After all, SUVs are bought for utility first, driving dynamics second. Trailblazer shares with siblings Trax and Buick Encore one of my favorite interior tricks - the fold-flat front seat. This ingenious tool (when combined with flattened middle-row seats) not only allows the wee Trailblazer to carry long toboggans or surfboards from hatch to glovebox - it's also is an instant ottoman should you require the rear seat to get work done on a trip.

With three more inches of rear legroom - and 10 more cubic feet of rear cargo - the Chevy is much more accommodating of your friends when you ask them along for some trailblazing.

 

Speaking of trailblazing, it's also worth noting how difficult the Trailblazer makes its for the brand's electric ambitions: For a significant $10,000-plus less, the Trailblazer has 137 more miles of range than an equivalent $39,790 Chevy Bolt EV (396 vs. 259), more cargo room and all-wheel drive for Michigan's' long winters.

Nostalgia for old autos is natural. But when compared to the best the current market has to offer in subcompact SUVs and EVs, Trailblazer is a worthy sequel.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

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