Caraganza First Drive review 2022 Chevy Trailblazer: A country boy will survive

My granddad was born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Eastern Kentucky. He was a country boy in the truest sense of the word, and grew up with bluegrass music, outhouses, and little in the way of modern conveniences. He somehow ended up in Louisville, the biggest of the big cities in his world I imagine. I never really knew how he ended up there; maybe it was his marriage to his wife, my “memaw.”

He spent most of his adult life raising two girls, who of whom I call “mom” and driving a truck for most of his life for the company owned by the family. He was always sort of out of place in his urban surroundings just a little bit. Sure, he adapted to them, but always retained that countryfied side that seemed to lurk just below the surface.

He’s been gone for over two decades now, and my memaw half that long. So, I’m not sure why I thought of him when Chevy delivered me a 2022 Trailblazer for a recent week, but I did.

In the automotive world the Trailblazer (or TrailBlazer as it was known then) first came out in 1999 as an upscale answer to the Blazer, complete with 4 doors. It lasted until 2009 here in America when it became the Traverse.

Chevy brought back the Trailblazer in 2021 (without the large “B’) as a small SUV crossover. Since it was only launched (or relaunched) in 2021, for 2022 the changes were minimal like a heated steering wheel option, dealer options that include such things as roof rack cross rails and a trailering package with a trailer hitch, harness, and bezel, and some funky new colors.

The Trailblazer is the largest of the small SUVs Chevy offers (which include the Trax and electric Bolt EUV), and is offered in four variants: LS, LT, Activ and RS. You can get either front wheel drive or all wheel drive; the base engine for the front wheel drive model is a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine with a 137 horsepower, and 162 lb-ft of torque and a CVT. The optional all-wheel drive ups the engine to a turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine with 155 hp, 174 lb-ft torque and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The base LS FWD trim comes with a nice package of with standard safety and infotainment technology. Every Trailblazer comes with the Chevy Safety Assist system, which packages automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, a following distance indicator, forward-collision alert, and automatic high beams. The standard infotainment system is a 7-inch screen with a backup camera, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The other standard features include electronic air conditioning, a USB-A port, a USB-C port, a compass display, 40/60 split-folding back seats, a tilt/telescoping steering column, and Chevy’s Teen Driver mode.

Weirdly, however, but something I’ve started to see on base models from other manufacturers as well is the lack of cruise control. If you want cruise control on the LS trim, you’ll have to option in the Driver Confidence and Cruise Package ($495). Above the base LS however all the things you’d want are there: cruise control, push-button start, remote start, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, front fog lights, tinted rear windows, and heated, power-adjustable mirrors.

Other options include an Adaptive Cruise Control package adds stuff like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a rear center armrest, and as the name implies, adaptive cruise control. It requires the Convenience package (automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, extra USB charging ports, a larger touchscreen, etc.) and either the Confidence II package or the Driver Confidence package. Opting for that package adds a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.

At the top of the Trailblazer heap are the Activ and RS models. The difference here are in who these models are meant to lure. Both have the larger 1.3-liter turbo-four engine, black roof rails, exterior two-tone color schemes, and LED taillights. And they’re also both equipped with leather wrapped steering wheels and shift knobs along with dual-exit exhaust, LED taillights, and trailering options. But the RS has sportier trim including a flat bottom steering wheel, and RS logos scattered about, while the Activ is more off-road-oriented with add-ons like a functional skid plate, off-road-tuned suspension, sport terrain tires, and distinct front and rear fascias.

My tester for the week was the Activ with the Convenience Package ($520) with automatic climate control, an 8-inch infotainment system, more USB ports, and an auto-dimming mirror. My tester also had the Technology Package ($1,620) with such nice things as an upgraded infotainment system with HD Radio and Bose premium audio, wireless device charging, adaptive cruise control, an HD backup camera, and LED headlights.

From the outside, I have to admit that the Trailblazer looks like what it is: a small squat SVU. Inside however I was in for a pleasant surprise. The interior is surprisingly roomy, and the driver’s seat is high enough to afford a good view, one on par with a full-size SUV. There’s plenty of room for four adults, and a nice bit of space for hauling things. On the road the Trailblazer has a good ride, and while I would have liked to have had a bigger engine, there’s plenty of power to do whatever it is you need to do.

The really nice thing is the affordability. The base Trailblazer starts around $21,000 and the upper trim Activ $25,700. My fully loaded tester topped out at an MSRP of $31,900 delivered. At the end of the day a Trailblazer would be a very nice, albeit small, SUV for a growing family, or retired couple. It drives well, has a lot of nice features, and for everyday life seems well fit. The thing I really liked about it, and what reminded me of good old granddad, was the Activ addons that allow the Trailblazer to be just a bit countryfied while still fitting in perfectly with the urban landscape.

The 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ AWD
MSRP: $27,200
MSRP (as tested): $31,900
Engine: 1.3 liter 4-cylinder 155 hp @5600 rpm, 174 ft.-lb. torque @ 1600 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 26 city, 30 highway, 28 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, combined) : 39 mpg

Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Wheelbase: 103.9
Length: 173.7
Width, without mirrors: 71.2
Height: 65.7
Minimum Ground Clearance: 8

Interior Dimensions
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 5
Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet): 98.2
Front Head Room (inches): 40
Front Leg Room (inches): 40.9
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 55.4
Front Hip Room (inches): 52.3
Second Row Head Room (inches): 38.4
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 39.4
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches): 53.8
Second Row Hip Room (inches): 45.7
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 54.4
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 25.3

Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/100,000 Miles
Corrosion: 3 Years/36,000 Miles Rust-Through 6 Years/100,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/100,000 Miles
Maintenance: 2 Years/24,000 Miles

Greg Engle