LA Auto Show 2019

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is a funky subcompact that wants to be rugged but isn't

The Chevy Trailblazer is back though its lack of off road prowess may disappoint some.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Trailblazer is a funky subcompact SUV that is making its way onto dealership lots in the spring of 2020. Like the Blazer that was revived before it, this Trailblazer may disappoint some that were hoping the return of the moniker meant a rugged off-roader was about to be born.

"Slotting between the Trax and Equinox, the addition of the Trailblazer provides us with a great opportunity to expand the Chevy SUV family to new audiences," said Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet passenger car and crossover marketing. "With the new ACTIV trim, plus the sporty RS trim, we can appeal to customers' varying active lifestyles."

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV trimPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

On the outside, the Trailblazer is a fun-looking little SUV in the same way that the new Kia Seltos is. Two-tone paint jobs are obviously back in a big way, especially in the subcompact segment and the Trailblazer is no exception. The model does have familial looks, playing on what the Blazer's front and rear end look like while still maintaining its own identity.

At the front it has an accent bar that is integrated with the headlamps and a faux a skidplate. In the ACTIV and RS trim levels, the Trailblazer has unique fascia elements to differentiate the grades.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer RS trimPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

The Trailblazer has a base turbocharged 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine and an available turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Both engines are paired with a standard continuously variable transmission with selectable stop-start capability (read: it doesn't always have to be on). Buyers who choose the 1.3-liter engine can opt for a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as well.

These are the same power plants that are available in the new 2021 Buick Encore GX.

The Trailblazer's all-wheel drive is selectable, allowing drivers to determine when it is active for better fuel economy. There are also three drive modes in front-wheel drive models: Normal, Snow, and Sport.

2021 Chevrolet TrailblazerChevy has made the cockpit of the Trailblazer driver-focused but it's still easily accessible for the front seat passenger.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Trailblazer's cockpit is driver-focused but relatively accessible for the front seat passenger. The car has good small item storage thanks in no small part to the small shelf on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat - something that the Toyota Highlander has effectively executed for generations.

The center console allowed up to 3.5 liters of open storage and 4.4 liters of storage under the armrest, as well as dual cupholders.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV trimPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

In the ACTIV trim level shown at the LA Auto Show, the model had a handsome interior with a variety of materials that all added to the car's appearance including some denim-like cloth and leatherette-like seating appointments.

The Trailblazer will have Chevy's latest infotainment system, complete with dual Bluetooth capability. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, as will SiriusXM with 360L.

It has a 40-60 split folding rear seat. The new Trailblazer has 54.4 cubic feet of storage space with the second row folded. That is significantly more than what is in the Hyundai Kona but slightly less than what is in a Nissan Rogue Sport. A hands-free lift gate will be available.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer cargo storage trunk folding seatFor ease, the Trailblazer's front seat also folds flat.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Trailblazer comes standard with a long list of safety technology including forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, rearview camera, Teen Driver, rear seat reminder, and OnStar. Additional technologies are available.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer ACTIV trimPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevy says that the ACTIV trim level is tuned for off road use, and by that they mean on gravel, not ascending rocks in Moab. It has unique tires and shock tuning. The standard all-season Hankook Sport Terrain 17-inch tires have an aggressive shoulder design. The model has a revised lower area to add ground clearance. However, no additional undercarriage protection is included.

Chevrolet is already teasing a sub-$20,000 starting price for the Trailblazer but it's likely that the ACTIV and RS models will go for closer to $30,000. That pricing is in line with what other automakers sell their subcompact crossovers for.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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The Denali Ultimate trim is new for 2023.

GMC

The GMC Yukon has always been a luxurious family hauler with beefy capability, but it moved even more upmarket in recent years with added tech and upscale interior materials. GMC just announced an even cushier version of the SUV for the 2023 model year. The Yukon Ultimate Denali gets unique styling touches and upgrades that take the already plush SUV to another level.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate22-inch wheels are standard GMC

The Denali Ultimate gets exclusive upgrades over other trims that include 22-inch wheels and chrome accents outside. The full-size SUV just got a complete redesign for 2021, which brought updated boxy styling, and a sleek look, so there are no additional exterior changes for 2023.

GMC offers three engines in the standard Yukon, but only two make it into the Ultimate. The standard powertrain includes a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel is also available that makes 277 horsepower and a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission is standard for all engines, and four-wheel drive is available.

Inside, the Ultimate comes with Alpine Umber full-grain leather upholstery with 16-way power front seats and massaging. Trim-exclusive contrast stitching and aluminum trim accent the space, and the top model gets an 18-speaker Bose audio system with stainless steel speaker grilles.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali UltimateGrained leather upholstery and upscale interior finishes are standard. GMC

A 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and offers Google services built in. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, along with wireless phone charging. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Amazon Alexa functionality are available. GMC also offers Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the Denali Ultimate.

GMC hasn’t detailed pricing for the new SUV yet, but we expect it to start at a premium over the standard Denali, which starts at just over $70,000.

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