The Chevy Trailblazer: Then And Now

December 15th, 2023 by

Two people are shown walking away from a parked yellow 2024 Chevy Trailblazer for sale.

Today, many know the Trailblazer as a sporty and youthful subcompact SUV with a remarkably low price tag and that iconic two-tone roof. However, if you put the current model next to the original, you’d hardly know the two were related. Chevrolet has been through a long journey with the Trailblazer. It actually first entered the lineup as an upper trim for the Blazer in 1999 and didn’t break off to become its own model until 2002. Even then, it was a midsize vehicle—not a subcompact. It was boxier and longer than the Trailblazer we know today. Technically speaking, today’s Trailblazer is a “remake” of the original, but many would argue the two don’t even come close to appealing to the same driver demographic. So, if you’re shopping for a Chevy Trailblazer for sale and you look at models made prior to 2010, you’ll be pretty surprised at what you find.

Chevrolet is nothing if not an SUV master, though. They have always worked hard to stay at the head of the SUV market, competing with the greats like Ford and Jeep. So, going back to the drawing board on a model is par for the course. Great brands and models only become great through many edits and adjustments. The current generation of Trailblazers is a far cry from the very first. Here’s a look at some of the ways the Trailblazer has changed since it was first introduced.

A Boxy, Angular, and Long Machine

Chevy didn’t have to say they were competing with the Ford Explorer when they released the very first Trailblazer—you knew it instantly from looking at it. The boxy shape was undeniably Explorer-esque. The first generation had just two rows of seating, but within just a couple of years on the market, Chevrolet released an extended base model, offering drivers three rows and seating for up to seven. This extended model really showcases how different the Trailblazer was then versus now. It was vying for a place in the three-row SUV market, whereas today’s Trailblazer sits comfortably in the subcompact category, content with its, well… compactness.

How the Power Has Progressed

The original Trailblazer had a six-cylinder engine and an automatic four-speed automatic transmission. In 2003, Chevy added a 5.3-liter V8 engine, and shortly after that, they added an optional 6.0L V8 engine. This heftier engine gave the 2003 Trailblazer EXT 7,200 lbs of towing capabilities. For reference, the current-day Trailblazer can tow 1,000 pounds. So, the first one just about competed with full-size pickup trucks in terms of towing. The new Trailblazer is not pretending to be a mean towing machine. It focuses on fuel economy over a massive engine, and that means a humble towing maximum.

The Addition of StabiliTrak

In 2007, the Trailblazer got GM’s StabiliTrak system. This system was specifically useful in large vehicles, which can be more difficult to steer than sedans. It uses sensors to monitor steering, braking, and traction, making adjustments when needed to help a driver drive in a straight line. It was a revolutionary system for its time.

A blue 2024 Chevy Trailblazer RS is shown from the rear while parked.

We Say Ta-Ta Trailblazer (For Now) In 2009, Until 2021

In 2009, Chevy took the Trailblazer off the market. They did this to make room for the Traverse, which was almost a more refined version of the Trailblazer. It also offered seating for seven, but on a more car-like platform, as opposed to the clunky truck platform the original Trailblazer used.

In 2021, Chevrolet surprised everyone by bringing back the Trailblazer. They had made major changes to the vehicle. Chevrolet brought back the Trailblazer not as a midsize SUV and not as a three-row SUV but as a subcompact SUV. It was a total rebrand.

The current generation of the Trailblazer is clearly designed to appeal to a more youthful and adventurous driver. The original was a good fit for families; the new one is good for couples and friends on weekend excursions. You can’t mistake the Trailblazer’s cheeky two-tone roof for any other vehicle. It’s the model’s trademark design feature. It also has a much shorter fascia than the original model and an overall more compressed body.

Tech And Power Perks

Since its return, the Trailblazer has received some tremendous performance and technology updates. For starters, it has a continuously variable transmission (CVT)with stop/start technology. The CVT adapts to road conditions and driver input almost instantaneously, unlike the more hands-on manual transmission of the original Trailblazer.

The current model is made for the fuel-conscious driver; it has an EPA mileage rating of 31 combined MPG. It’s also worth noting that while the first Trailblazer came in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive options, the new generation has selectable all-wheel drive. You can send torque to all four wheels when you need to or not when you don’t, maximizing fuel efficiency when appropriate. There are also three drive modes that adapt to road conditions for even better command.

On the infotainment front, the new Trailblazer has Wi-Fi, available wireless charging, and smartphone compatibility.

Many Distinct Personalities

Chevrolet offers several trims for current-generation Trailblazer buyers. They’re each super affordable, but they range from a no-frills base trim to more performance-oriented options to a luxury trim with upscale interior materials.

The ACTIV trim is for drivers who want a rugged experience, with an off-road-tuned suspension and a functional skid plate. The RS is the upscale yet sporty version, with heated seats, special accents and badging, and 19-inch high-gloss black wheels. The starting trim, the LS, is nothing to sneeze at with great standard technology features, a huge touchscreen and Chevy Safety Assist, a suite of driver assistance features.

There is one holdover from the original Trailblazer: the roof rails. This has always been a vehicle for adventure enthusiasts, so throw your skis or kayaks up there and hit the trails and lakes.

A close-up on the rear wheel of a yellow 2024 Chevy Trailblazer is shown.

Check Out The Many Faces Of The Trailblazer at Chevyland

We love the Trailblazer in all of its forms. We’ve watched as it has evolved over the years, and we proudly carry original renditions and the remake. If you’re looking for a terrific, easy-to-handle, and fuel-efficient subcompact SUV, visit us and check out the current generation of the Trailblazer. It boasts a surprisingly low price tag, delivering a vast amount of value for every dollar you pay for it. Now that the new model has been with us for a few years, you can already snag a used 2021 Trailblazer and get fresh features for a great price.

If you loved the original Trailblazer, we almost always have some in stock. Come see what we have on hand. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, our team will work tirelessly to find you the model and trim that works for you. We love to see how Chevy continuously improves upon its models and gives so much thought to every redesign. It was so apparent when they brought back the Trailblazer that Chevy gave serious thought to what its lineup was missing. The new Trailblazer is nimble, youthful, and fun to drive.

When you want to work with a dealership that will treat you with respect and patience and works to understand your needs, visit us at Chevyland. We’ll help set you up with financing that fits your budget and home in a Trailblazer you love.