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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs. 2021 Subaru Crosstrek: Which Is Better?

The all-new 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer goes head to head against the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer is an all-new model.
  • Addition of a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine option on the Subaru Crosstrek.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Base 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: Tight seats; add optional all-wheel drive to the base model.

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 3-cylinder turbocharged engines, and while the base 1.2-liter with a CVT is perfectly adequate, we prefer the 1.3 for its increased verve. Combine that with a choice of CVT or  9-speed automatic (which 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 appealing, 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 9-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 upgraded audio system, keyless entry, and push-button start, 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

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

Base price: $23,295 / Read our 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Review

What we like: All-wheel drive comes standard; EyeSight safety suite in CVT-equipped models; decent off-road chops and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

What we would change: Weak base engine; poor fuel economy with manual transmission.

Overview: In what has become a signature of the brand, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is neither a compact SUV nor a hatchback, but rather something in between, with a carlike ride but also some of the attributes of a crossover/SUV. With standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Crosstrek is a solid camping vehicle, comfortable on anything from mud to dirt to snow, although it’s still not a great choice for true off-roading on rocky terrain. We find the standard 2.0-liter engine to be a bit underpowered, but are more than satisfied with the upgrade 2.5-liter engine. We also don’t much care for the manual transmission, since not only does the CVT deliver better gas mileage, but CVT-equipped models come with a more sophisticated AWD system, which offers Hill Descent Control. CVT models also come with SI-Drive, a driver-selectable powertrain management system that goes from more fuel-efficient to more sporty. The interior is comfortable and roomy, with a clear 360-degree view out front and 55.3 cubic feet of space with all seats folded.

What’s new for 2021: Style changes include a redesigned grille and front bumper, while inside, Sport and Limited models get a 182-hp 2.5-liter engine, and adaptive cruise control comes standard on all CVT-equipped models.

Features and technology: Trim levels for the Crosstrek range from the base model up to the Limited, with the two lower levels offering either a manual or CVT transmission and the upper two with CVT only. Prices range from nearly $24,000 for the base model up to $29,000 for the base Limited, which includes more standard equipment.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and automatic climate control. As we have mentioned, such things as SI-Drive and EyeSight are offered only on CVT-equipped models.  Upper trim levels include such things as paddle shifters and foglights on the Premium, and the X-Mode all-wheel-drive system and a water-repellent interior on the Sport Model. The upper-tier Limited comes with 18-inch wheels, push-button ignition, a leather interior, an 8-inch touchscreen, and LED headlights, among other things. Other options include a moonroof on the Premium and up and a Harman Kardon audio system on the Limited.

What does the future hold: Subaru says there is a hybrid variant of the Crosstrek coming in 2021, but details are vague. The 2020 Crosstrek plug-in hybrid had 17 miles of all-electric range. See 2021 Subaru Crosstrek models for sale near you

Trailblazer vs. Crosstrek: Strengths comparison

Trailblazer Benefits: Significantly lower starting price; slightly better fuel economy; stylish looks.

Crosstrek Benefits: Standard all-wheel drive on all trims; higher safety rating; excellent resale value.

Trailblazer vs. Crosstrek: Which is better?

If this comparison test were merely on the basis of cost, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer would win hands down, since its base model starts nearly $3,500 lower than the base 2021 Subaru Crosstrek. That being said, we think the Crosstrek is the better car. It’s proven itself to have excellent resale value, it’s got a more refined interior and ride, it has a 5-star safety rating, and even the base model comes with all-wheel drive. Just make sure you opt for the CVT rather than the manual.

Find a Chevrolet Trailblazer for sale or Find a Subaru Crosstrek for sale

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer 2021 Subaru Crosstrek
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.3-liter turbo I3 2.0-liter Flat-4
Horsepower 137 hp @ 5000 rpm 152 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm 145 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission CVT CVT
Fuel Economy 31 mpg (28 city/33 hwy) 30 mpg (28 city/33 hwy)
Also Available 1.2-liter  turbo I3; 9-spd automatic 2.5-liter Flat-4; 6-spd manual
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 4 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 103.9 inches 104.9 inches
Overall Length 173.5 inches 176.5 inches
Width 71.2 inches 79.0 inches
Height 62.5 inches 63.6 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet 35.4 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.4 inches 38.0 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 43.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.4 inches 36.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.4 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.8 inches 55.6 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 98.2 cu. ft. 100.9 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 54.4 cu. ft. 55.3 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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