Three-pot thriller? 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer subcompact crossover

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer different?

Perhaps an all-black Midnight Edition trim level, but little else of note as Chevrolet’s newest subcompact crossover SUV sidles into its second season. Launched for model-year 2021, Trailblazer joined the Trax as Chevy’s second player in a class that for some automakers has supplanted the subcompact car as their entry-level vehicle.

Resurrecting a name used in the 2000s on a truck-type midsize SUV, today’s Trailblazer seats five, comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD), and offers two three-cylinder turbocharged engines. A class size down from Chevy’s Equinox compact crossover, the ’22 Trailblazer will remain slightly larger and far more modern than the Trax, which launched for model-year 2015.

The Trax nonetheless topped the subcompact segment in sales in the first half of 2020, ahead of such rivals as the Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, and Ford EcoSport. But sources say the Trax might be retired for model-year 2023, leaving the Trailblazer as Chevy’s sole subcompact crossover.

Should I wait for the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer or buy a 2021?

2021 Trailblazer Activ

Buy a ‘21. We’d lobby for a more powerful engine option, but that probably wouldn’t happen before a midcycle refresh, around model-year 2024 or ’25. Except for a possible Midnight Edition or something similar, the 2022 Trailblazer is unlikely to change in any way worth waiting for. And it’ll almost certainly cost more than a ’21.

Expect the 2022 Trailblazer lineup to be a ’21 repeat. It should again begin with L, LS, and LT trims and be topped off by the off-road-themed Activ and the Camaro-inspired RS grades. Highlights should again include solid build quality, one of the roomier cabins in the class, fashionable two-tone paint for the Activ and RS, and an AWD model that starts under $25,000.

Will 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer styling be different?

2021 Trailblazer RS

Only by virtue of the possible Midnight Edition. Returning models probably won’t get more than a new color choice or two. The Trailblazer was developed by GM Korea and is built in South Korea, where Chevy already offers a Midnight Edition RS model with exclusive Midnight Black paint, matte-black trim and grille, and gloss black alloy wheels.

Special edition or not, the ’22 Trailblazer will remain a student of the chunky-cut, liberally creased school of subcompact-crossover design. The Activ and RS – which had the same base price for model-year ’21 — will return as the most distinctive-looking models.

Both should again come with a contrasting-color roof, while the more outdoorsy Activ gets a front fascia molded to improve ground clearance, standard roof rails, and trapezoid-shaped exhaust tips. The racier RS should reprise a mesh grille insert, blacked-out exterior trim, unique front splitter elements, and rectangular exhaust tips.

Look for the LS and LT to again be available with a package that blacks out the grille and exterior emblems; it cost $495 on 2021 model. Wheel size and design should remain another trim-level identifier: 16-inch steel rims for the L and LS, 17-inch alloys standard on the LT and Active, 18-inch alloys standard on the RS and optional for the LT at around $595.  

2021 Trailblazer Activ

Inside, the ’22 Trailblazer will again feature nicely organized gauges and controls. All models will return with an infotainment touchscreen integrated with the dashboard rather than affixed in the trendier tablet-like style. A 7-inch screen should again be standard. For model-year ’21, an 8-inch screen was available for LT, Activ, and RS as part of a $620 Convenience Package.

Imbedded navigation wasn’t available for model-year ’21 and probably won’t be for ’22. All models will again come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and the ability to support two Bluetooth-paired phones concurrently. Wireless charging, wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Bose-branded audio upgrade should return as part of the Activ and RS Technology Package.

2021 Trailblazer Activ

A nice mix of grained panels, polished hard surfaces, and padded touchpoints should keep interior-materials quality a bit above par for the segment. Each ’22 Trailblazer trim should again have subtly different finishes and stitching; the Activ, for example, uses handsome bronze-colored accents and woven-fabric door inserts. Expect cloth upholstery to remain standard on the L, LS, and LT, with leatherette optional for the LT and standard on Activ and RS.

2021 Trailblazer Activ

The cabin should also remain among the more spacious in the segment, with fine headroom, comfy front buckets, and a supportive rear bench that elevates passengers into a sofa-like posture, contributing to outstanding legroom. Wide door pockets and dashboard and console cubbies – including a fissure on the passenger side – make for good small-items storage. 

2021 Trailblazer RS

Cargo volume is also among best in class. There’s 25.3 cubic feet behind the 60/40 split rear seatbacks, 54.4 them folded. On all but the L, the front passenger seat folds to create an 8.5-foot long channel. The LT, Activ, and RS should again be available with a hands-free power liftgate, an uncommon amenity in this class. A Chevy logo is conveniently projected beneath the rear bumper as a target for your door-opening kick.

Any 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer mechanical changes?

2021 Trailblazer RS

Not likely. Along with the mechanically similar 2022 Buick Encore GX, this Chevy will continue as the only subcompact crossover with an all-three-cylinder-engine lineup. Both available engines produce slightly above-average torque for the class, but nonetheless saddle the Trailblazer with some interesting driving characteristics.

Expect L, LS, and LT models to again come standard with front-wheel drive and a turbocharged 1.2-liter engine of 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps it moving). These models will use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which performs the duties of a conventional automatic transmission but without stepped gear ratios.

The other available engine is a turbo 1.3-liter with 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It should again be standard on all Activ and RS grades and on LS and LT models optioned with AWD. For ’21, it was also a $395 option for front-drive LS models.

With front-wheel drive the 1.3-liter should again link to a CVT. With AWD it’ll mate with a conventional nine-speed automatic transmission.      

No Trailblazer with the 1.2-liter engine was made available to test in time for this review.

2021 Trailblazer Activ

With their 1.3-liter, Activ and RS test models required judicious throttle application to move away from a stop smoothly. Stab the gas pedal you’ll endure an aggravating pause until the turbo delivers its boost. The same technique is required to accelerate alertly from low-speed coasting. Frankly, this behavior is similar to that of many turbocharged four-cylinder engines of 2.0-liters or less. But it’s something to keep in mind when attempting to scoot onto a city street or quickly turn across oncoming traffic.

Once underway, the 1.3 provides good spunk but you must be willing to prod it along with frequent use of the gas pedal. This is true especially when you’re attempting to keep pace on a fast-moving freeway. Unfortunately, this engine sounds gravelly and unrefined under virtually any throttle application. 

The 1.3-liter comes with driver-selectable modes for Normal (comfort) and Sport (increased steering and transmission response). A Snow mode that softens throttle application is also supplied with front-wheel drive.

2021 Trailblazer RS

On AWD Trailblazers, the driver must press a console button to activate the system and share power with the rear wheels. This contrasts with most all-wheel-drive rivals, which automatically engage AWD when sensors detect tire slip.

Trailblazer’s setup benefits fuel economy by running in more efficient front-drive until the operator determines AWD is needed. But it also compels drivers to be extra attentive to road-surface conditions that can compromise traction. An alternative is to simply leave AWD engaged most of the time. Doing so won’t harm the drivetrain but could reduce fuel economy.  

The 2022 Trailblazer Activ will again come with off-pavement-oriented suspension tuning and chunkier tire tread. No ’22 Trailblazer, however, will match the segment leading Jeep Renegade Trailhawk or Subaru Crosstrek for genuine off-road capability.

On-road handling is a pleasant surprise, with direct steering response and good balance and grip in corners. Trailblazers are nimble around town and stable at highway speeds. They take most bumps in stride, although the 18-inch tires standard on the RS and available for the LT are least adept at absorbing sharp impacts. And the Activ’s aggressive tread introduces a bit of squirm to the steering and more road noise on abrasive surfaces.

On all models, expect wind rush at highway speeds and engine coarseness under most throttle applications to contribute to less than relaxing journeys.

Will 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer fuel economy improve?

2021 Trailblazer Activ

With no changes to powertrains, expect 2022 Trailblazer EPA ratings to repeat those of the 2021 model. That would keep this crossover among the more fuel-efficient in the segment.

Look for models with the 1.2-liter engine, CVT, and front-drive to again rate 28/31/29 mpg city/highway/combined. With the 1.3-liter engine, ’22 Trailblazers should again rate 29/33/31 mpg with front-drive and the CVT, and 26/30/28 mpg with AWD and the nine-speed automatic. All models will again use regular-grade 87-octane gas.

Will there be new 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer features?

2021 Trailblazer RS with Technology Package

New features per se aren’t expected. However, we’d suggest Chevy expand standard safety equipment to match leading rivals. Overall, though, the ’22 Trailblazer’s roster of standard and optional equipment should remain competitive for the class.

All ’22 Trailblazers will again come with Chevy Safety Assist, which consists of technology expected in any new vehicle. It includes autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the crossover to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. Also included will be lane-departure warning with lane-maintaining automatic steering correction.

However, some rivals also come with blind-spot detection that alerts drivers to unseen vehicles in adjacent lanes.

For 2021, this important feature — usefully accompanied by rear cross-traffic detection — was a Trailblazer option available on all but the L model. On the LS it was included in the $495 Driver Confidence and Cruise Package, which also contained cruise control. For ‘21 LT, Activ, and RS models, which came with cruise control standard, blind-spot detection was part of the $345 Driver Confidence Package. Both packages included rear park-assist warning.

An increasing number of competitors also feature as standard adaptive cruise control designed to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead.

On the ’21 Trailblazer, this technology was available for the LT in the $620 Adaptive Cruise Control Package, which also included an enhanced driver-information screen, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a rear center armrest. It was available for the Activ and RS as part of the $1,620 Technology Package, which also included wireless phone charging, infotainment voice-recognition capability, the enhanced driver-info screen, satellite radio, a Bose 7-speaker audio system, and a rear-vision camera upgraded to high-definition.

In addition to features already covered, look for the LT, Activ, and RS to again be available with the Sun and Liftgate Package ($1,770 for 2021). This included the hands-free liftgate plus a dual-pane panoramic moonroof.

Also available again for those models should be the aforementioned Convenience Package that cost $620 for 2021 and included automatic climate control, satellite radio, the 8-inch infotainment screen, one type-A and one type-C USB port, a 120-volt power outlet, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, and illuminated vanity mirrors.    

For the LT, leatherette upholstery, along with the leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear center armrest should again be part of the Premium Seating Package ($845 for ’21).

Note that Chevrolet made most 2021 Trailblazer options available only in combination with one or more additional extra-cost packages. For example, the Technology Package required Activ and RS buyers to also order the Convenience and Driver Confidence packages, creating a $2,585 bundle. Another example: the Sun and Liftgate Package required the Convenience and Driver Confidence options, turning it into a $2,735 add-on. LT buyers who wanted Sun and Liftgate Package had to shell out for the 1.3-liter engine, bringing the total to $3,140.      

Will 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer prices be different?

2021 Trailblazer Activ

Expect base prices to rise modestly and for returning options increase slightly, if at all. Starting prices should indeed remain competitive: the 2021 Trailblazer was Chevy’s least expensive crossover and base prices were among the lowest in the competitive set.  

Accept Chevy’s price-inflating options policy – or go without some desirable features – and the 2022 Trailblazer’s roomy passenger and cargo compartments, good fuel economy, and solid bearing should earn it a place on your subcompact-crossover shopping list.

For reference, here are 2021 Trailblazer base prices, including the $995 manufacturer’s destination fee. With the 1.2-liter engine and front-wheel drive, the ’21 L model started at $19,995, the LS at $22,595, and the LT at $24,695.

With the 1.3-liter engine and AWD, the ’21 Trailblazer LS was priced from $24,495 and the LT from $26,695. Base price for the both ’21 Activ and RS was $26,495 with front-drive and $$27,995 with AWD.

When does the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer come out?

2021 Trailblazer Activ

Expect a 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer release date in fall 2020.

Best 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer competitors

Buick Encore GX, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Venue and Kona, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3 and CX-30, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Kicks and Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]