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 trim Photo 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 trim Photo 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 Trailblazer Chevy 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 trim Photo 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 seat For 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 trim Photo 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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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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