Don’t Be Fooled By Its Size: The Chevy Trailblazer Is Remarkably Good (If You Get The Right One)

I prefer this over its big brother

Chevy Trailblazer RS review
This RS model was a kick to drive — and a remarkably good option for a small crossover. (Image: TFLcar)

The 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS is a much more logical pick over its bigger Blazer brother.

After spending a lot of time with the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS, I came to the conclusion that it gives good bang for the buck, is kind of fun, utilitarian – and makes more sense than a bloated Blazer. Yes, yes – the Blazer is much more powerful and it handles well enough, and it has some great tech, but it’s not that impressive. I find it to be far too expensive, incapable of doing anything on dirt, and marginally attractive. I like the Trailblazer better.

Let me explain: The higher end Trailblazers, both the Activ and the RS, represent a pretty good value proposition. They are much less expensive than a Blazer, or an Equinox, but provide good content within. On top of that, they are thrifty, utilitarian and (the Activ) is mighty capable in the rough.

Sure, they don’t necessarily compete with the Jeep Compass, or Ford Bronco Sport off-road, but the Trailblazer Activ can handle difficult roads with aplomb. Check out Tommy’s video below.

Chevy Trailblazer RS review

Interior and exterior design

I think GM nailed the design on both the RS and Activ. They differentiate from each other just enough to make other’s know this is a unique ride. The mixture of Camaro and Silverado/Tahoe influences work with a hint of whimsey throughout. It’s more complimentary than the Blazer design; at least to my eye.

The interior is well laid out with decent storage, well sorted seats and good backseat space. I thought the optional 4.2-inch diagonal Driver Information Center was hard to use, but the optional 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen was pretty good. Overall, the infotainment is easy to use, and the wireless Apple CarPlay (it has Android Auto too) came in handy. The Bose seven-speaker audio system was good, but I would be happier with more power.

The only leather you notice it the leather-wrapped steering wheel, which feels pretty sporty. I didn’t mind the cloth with leatherette seat trim. It looked pretty good in all black with red trim (stitching and whatnot), and it fit my large bottom beautifully. The passenger’s seat fold flat, allowing for long items (surfboards, ladders – or temporary sleeping location), and the 25.3 ft³ behind the second row, and 54.4 cubic feet of cargo room is in-between the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass’ numbers.

The 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS vs Trailblazer Activ

The major difference between the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS and the trailblazer Activ revolves around a few packaging components. Namely, exterior design, tires and wheels along with armor and a few suspension components. 

The RS has sportier wheels and rubber, along with a more streets oriented stance. It has unique badging in a few unique interior components. They handle pretty much the same, but the RS has a slightly firmer ride. That mostly has to do with the lower profile tires. The RS comes with all-season tires on black partially painted wheels, the Activ comes with sport-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch wheels.

Think of it as RS is your choice for city driving, and the Activ is more outdoorsy. Or, at least, that’s how Chevrolet wants you to look at it. It’s a smart move, because they do have a different feel.

Chevy Trailblazer RS review
I took the sportier, street-focused Trailblazer RS out into the sand, because…well, just because.

Driving the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS

My loaner vehicle came with the tiny, 155 horsepower, turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine. It makes 177 lbs-feet of torque and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. This RS also came with the optional push-button all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Weaker three-cylinder turbos and CVTs come with the base models.

I drove up and down the California coast in this vehicle, and enjoy the majority of the trip. I even managed to put it on beach sand to test out the all-wheel-drive system. It worked exactly as advertised, getting me out of the sound when the front wheels ran out of traction. It’s an usual system, because you can turn it off with the push of a button.

As a matter of fact, I spent most of the time driving the vehicle in it’s all wheel drive mode. I still got acceptable fuel mileage, despite the oversight. Averaging 25 mpg, I was pleased with that return given my heavy right foot.

The ride is a bit stiffer, and I noticed it would wander in his lane if you didn’t pay close attention to steering inputs. Handling on Canyon roads was fairly impressive, especially given the high roof. It felt planted and responsive in most situations. I think it is slightly more maneuverable than the Bronco Sport.

Off the line, it accelerates well, then things start to drop off around 40 mph. Still, it works well in traffic. Passing power on highways takes a little bit of work. You have to plan ahead to let the little turbo catch up.

Bottom line

Both the AWD Chevy Trailblazer RS and Activ have the same starting price of $28,395. That price nets you a nearly loaded vehicle. Spend about $31,000 and you will have every bell and whistle available.

If you’re looking at the Blazer, I think you’ll be just about as happy (and less broke) if you opt for this sweet little crossover.

Check out my longer review video below: