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2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer: Which Is Better?

GM’s compact crossover entries, the 2021 Buick Encore GX and the brand-new 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer, share their engines and chassis. But which is the better urban runabout?

Quick Facts

  • The Chevy Trailblazer is all-new for 2021.
  • Introduced for 2020, the Encore GX is unchanged for 2021.
  • While both offer all-wheel drive, neither is a true off-roader.

2021 Buick Encore GX

2021 Buick Encore GXBase price: $25,095 / Read our 2021 Buick Encore GX Review

What we like: Usable cargo space; fuel economy; standard safety features.

What we would change: Base engine; engine noise at full throttle.


Slotting between the slightly smaller Encore and the larger Envision, the Buick Encore GX was brand new for 2020, with no changes for 2021. It seats five, and offers a choice of either a 1.2- or 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, paired to a continuously variable automatic. It’s front-wheel drive, although if you select all-wheel drive, then the transmission is a nine-speed automatic. The Encore GX is comfortable inside and pleasantly appointed, with an 8-inch touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Cargo space is good, with 50.2 cubic feet with all seats folded, an extra sub-floor space, and a fold-flat front passenger seat for longer items. The GX is perfectly nice to drive, although we don’t love the shifting of the automatic, and the steering is not very communicative. Sporty, the GX is not. It comes very well equipped with safety features, including lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking. The base model starts in the $25,000 range, with a fully equipped Essence model topping $35,000.

What’s new for 2021: A brand-new model for 2020, the Encore GX remains unchanged for 2021, aside from updated pricing.

Features and technology: Offered in three trim levels, the base 2021 Buick Encore GX is called the Preferred. It includes 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 4G Wi-fi hotspot, and push-button ignition. It also includes an impressive safety suite, with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian braking, and lane-keeping assist. Options include heated seats, a panoramic moonroof, a Cold Weather Package, and adaptive cruise control.

Moving up, the Select includes a power driver seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a luggage rack, and safety features including a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist.  There is also an optional Advance Technology package with navigation, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and a back-up camera. The top Essence model adds a 120-volt power outlet, leather-covered seats, a heated steering wheel, chrome bumper accents, and an air ionizer. Options for the Essence include a 7-speaker Bose audio system and a Convenience package with a rear camera and wireless smartphone charging.

All models also offer the optional 1.3-liter turbocharged engine as well as a black-painted roof and a Sport Touring package, with body-color rocker moldings, a black mesh grille, and red exterior accents.

What does the future hold: As the Encore GX is a new model, we don’t expect too many updates for the future, but rather refinements and possibly another engine choice. See 2021 Buick Encore GX models for sale near you

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2021 Chevrolet TrailblazerBase price: $19,995 / Read our 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Review

What we like: Low starting price; handsome looks; good standard tech and safety features.

What we would change: Improve the seats and make them bigger; add optional all-wheel drive to base model; offer a more powerful engine.

Overview: Resurrecting a popular name from its past, Chevy brings back the Trailblazer for 2021 as a compact/subcompact crossover runabout for the city. In terms of size, it slots between the subcompact Trax and the midsize Equinox, and carries familiar looks, including a headlight treatment pulled directly from the Camaro. The Trailblazer offers a choice of three-cylinder turbocharged engines, and while the base 1.2-liter is perfectly adequate, we prefer the 1.3 for its increased verve. Combine that with a CVT that feels more like an automatic (and offers impressive fuel economy to boot) and steering that feels light but sufficient, and the Trailblazer makes for a nice little city car. The low starting price is impressive, and the Chevy comes decently equipped with both safety and tech features, although some interior materials seem a bit cheap. And despite its name, the Trailblazer is not an off-roader by any stretch of the imagination, with the base model not even offering all-wheel drive.

What’s new for 2021: Everything. The Chevy Trailblazer is a brand-new model (albeit with a recycled name).

Features and technology: The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is offered in five trim levels, from the base L model up to the more sport-inspired RS trim, with prices rising from under $20,000 to nearly $28,000 for the RS. It comes with a choice of engines and either a continuously variable transmission or a nine-speed automatic. The base model is front-wheel drive only, with the upper models offering all-wheel drive as well.

As an urban crossover SUV, the Trailblazer is well equipped with safety features, coming standard with forward collision alert, automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warnings, a teen-driver system and a rear-seat reminder. Tech features include a 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth audio streaming for two devices, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Other features include two USB ports and 16-inch wheels. Upper trims include such options as an upgrade audio system, keyless entry and push-button start, a dual exhaust, and 18-inch wheels.

What does the future hold:

As the Trailblazer is a brand-new model for 2021, expect only mild updates in the future. See 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer models for sale near you

Encore GX vs. Trailblazer: Strengths comparison

Encore GX Benefits: More refined interior; quieter interior; more comfortable front seats.

Trailblazer Benefits: Considerably lower starting price; better ride; advanced safety features.

Encore GX vs. Trailblazer: Which is better?

Sharing their base and upgrade engines as well as their platforms, the 2021 Buick Encore GX and 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer have more in common than they do differences. Given that, we don’t see enough in the Encore GX that justifies its $5,000 premium over the Trailblazer. We pick the Chevy. Find a Buick Encore GX for sale or Find a Chevrolet Trailblazer for sale

2021 Buick Encore GX 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.2-liter I3, turbocharged 1.2-liter I3, turbocharged
Horsepower 137 hp @ 5000 rpm 137 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm 162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Transmission CVT CVT
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (26 city, 30hwy) 29 mpg (28 city, 31hwy)
Also Available 1.3-liter I3, turbocharged; Automatic, 9-Spd 1.3-liter I3, turbocharged; Automatic, 9-Spd
Basic warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 years or 60,000 miles 5 years or 60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 4 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 102.2 inches 103.9 inches
Overall Length 171.4 inches 173.5 inches
Width 71.4 inches 71.2 inches
Height 64.1 inches 62.5 inches
Turning Diameter n/a 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 39.7 inches 40.0 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.1 inches 38.4 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.0 inches 39.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.4 inches 55.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.6 inches 53.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume n/a n/a
EPA Cargo Volume 50.2 cu. ft. 54.4 cu. ft.

Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd is an author specializing in comparison tests. A veteran of the automotive press world, Doug started at Sports Car International and Vintage Motorsport magazines and has worked at both Porsche Panorama magazine and Doug is also a jazz piano player and a composer for television.

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