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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs. 2021 Hyundai Kona: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer and 2021 Hyundai Kona are two pint-sized SUVs for the urban jungle. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Chevrolet TrailBlazer is a sibling to the Buick Encore GX.
  • The Hyundai Kona is Hyundai’s second-smallest SUV.

2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer

2021 Chevrolet TrailblazerBase Price: $19,995 / Read our 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer First Look

What we like: Low starting price, standard active-safety features, available AWD, available wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, funky styling particularly with the contrast-color roof

What we would change: Not so quick with either engine, some cheap-feeling interior bits

Overview: The Chevy TrailBlazer is a new crossover that’s a junior sibling to the Blazer and similar in size and price to the Chevy Trax. The sharp looks are modeled after the Blazer, and they dress up a boxy shape that houses more interior space than the Trax. Cargo volume is 25/54 cubic feet (rear seatbacks up/folded) and the front passenger seatback can fold flat, allowing long items to fit inside. The TrailBlazer is powered by a choice of diminutive turbocharged 3-cylinder engines: A 137-horsepower 1.2-liter base unit is paired exclusively with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 1.3-liter step-up offering makes 155 hp and can be had either with front-wheel drive and the CVT or with all-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic. Unusually, the AWD system can be switched on or off by the driver. Expect leisurely acceleration with either engine particularly at highway speeds. Fuel economy is no better than 4-cylinder rivals, with the 1.2-liter at 28 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The 1.3-liter with front-drive actually does a bit better at 29/33 mpg city/highway. AWD knocks those estimates down a few pegs to 26/30 mpg.

What’s new for 2021: The TrailBlazer makes its debut for 2021, reviving an old nameplate for a new model that expands Chevy’s lineup of crossover SUVs.

Features and technology: The 2021 Chevy TrailBlazer is offered in L, LS, LT, Activ, and RS trim levels. The L comes exclusively with the 1.2-liter, and its standard kit includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beams. AWD and the 1.3-liter engine can be had on the LS, which upgrades to 17-inch alloy wheels. On the LT, the optional 1.3-liter can be paired with FWD or AWD. This model also has cruise control, pushbutton start, and a power driver’s seat. The Activ trim claims to be off-road focused, but the substantive changes are limited to shock tuning, tire fitment, and a revised front fascia for better ground clearance. Similarly, the sporty RS is denoted only by 18-inch wheels and appearance tweaks. Both the Activ and RS get the larger engine with AWD as an option. A $1,780 Technology Package includes wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, inductive smartphone charging, and LED headlights.

What does the future hold: As a brand-new offering, we don’t anticipate major changes to the TrailBlazer right away. See 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer models for sale near you

2021 Hyundai Kona

2021 Hyundai KonaBase Price: $21,540 / Read our 2021 Hyundai Kona Review

What we like: Available 1.6-liter turbo is quick; EV variant boasts 258 miles of range; AWD can be had with either gas engine; nimble handling

What we would change: Tight rear seat; cargo space is less than most rivals; electric version offered in only some states

Overview: The 2021 Hyundai Kona provides more excitement than is typical among subcompact SUVs. It starts with extroverted styling and continues with a lively optional powertrain, point-and-shoot handling, and even a zippy EV. A modest 147-hp 2.0-liter base engine paired with a 6-speed automatic powers the lower trims but the upper grades enjoy a lively 175-hp turbo 1.6-liter with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both offer AWD, and EPA combined estimates with either engine are 30 mpg (FWD) or 27 mpg (AWD). There’s also a Kona EV with an impressive 201 hp and 258 miles of range, but its availability is limited to those states that have adopted California emissions rules. The Kona is among the shortest vehicles in its segment, which is great for street-parking and maneuverability but exacts a toll in interior space. Rear-seat legroom is tight and the cargo hold is on the small side. Don’t expect fancy cabin materials, but switchgear is simple and straightforward. Hyundai’s long warranty coverage and 3-year/36,000-mile free scheduled maintenance are pluses.

What’s new for 2021: There’s a new Night Edition trim. The Sunset Orange and Lime Twist paint colors have been discontinued.

Features and technology: The 2021 Hyundai Kona is offered in six trim levels. The SE, SEL, and SEL Plus get the 2.0-liter engine, while the Night Edition, Limited, and Ultimate get a more entertaining 1.6-liter turbo. The base car includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and a driver-attention monitor. It also gets a user-friendly 7-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The SEL brings blind-spot monitoring, heated seats, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, roof rails, satellite radio, and an optional contrasting-color roof. Features of the SEL Plus include a power driver’s seat, wireless smartphone charging, and premium audio. Besides the turbo engine, the Night Edition includes black styling accents and 18-inch wheels. Leather seats and automatic climate control arrive with the Limited, while the Ultimate gets an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a head-up display, rear parking sensors, and more.

What does the future hold: For 2022, the Kona will get revised styling and new powertrain choices and will also add a sporty N Line model. See 2021 Hyundai Kona models for sale near you

TrailBlazer vs. Kona: Strengths comparison

Chevrolet TrailBlazer benefits: Low starting price, roomy rear seat, good luggage space

Hyundai Kona benefits: Powerful optional turbo engine, available EV with long range, nimble handling, NHTSA 5 Star safety rating, strong warranty

2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer vs. 2021 Hyundai Kona: Which is better?

Although the Chevy TrailBlazer has more interior space thanks to its slightly larger size, the Kona presents a better case with its lively driving demeanor, zippy turbo engine option, impressive electric variant, long warranty, and free maintenance. See 2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer models for sale or See 2021 Hyundai Kona models for sale

2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer 2021 Hyundai Kona
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.2-liter I3 turbo 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 137 hp @ 5,000 rpm 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission CVT 6-spd automatic
Fuel Economy 29 mpg (28 city/31 highway) 30 mpg (27 city/33 highway)
Also Available 1.3-liter I3 turbo; 9-spd automatic; AWD 1.6-liter I4 turbo; 7-spd automatic; AWD; EV
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 4 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 103.9 inches 102.4 inches
Overall Length 173.5 inches 164.0 inches
Width 71.2 inches 70.9 inches
Height 64.8 inches 61.0 inches
Turning Diameter 36.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 39.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.4 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 41.5 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.4 inches 34.6inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.4 inches 55.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.8 inches 54.5 inches
EPA Passenger Volume n/a 94.1 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 25.3/54.4 cubic feet 19.2/45.8 cubic feet

Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio is an author specializing in automobiles. He says, “I have been into cars ever since I started with Matchboxes, and have been sharing my opinions about them for almost as long. Granted, I was pretty young at the time, but my parents really should have listened to me when I told them not to buy an Austin Marina.”

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