Auto Showdown: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs. 2020 Mazda CX-30

Two new segment-splitting compact crossovers debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show to vie for adventure-minded drivers’ attention (and dollars): The 2021 Chevrolet Blazer and 2020 Mazda CX-30. The Trailblazer revives a Chevrolet nameplate, albeit with much smaller dimensions, while the CX-30 is a brand-new model to slot in the Mazda lineup. Each addresses top crossover selling points of practicality, capability, and style with their own approaches. Which does it better? Let’s compare this diminutive duo to find out.

Design

Despite their similar purposes, the Trailblazer and CX-30 could hardly look more different. Chevrolet borrowed heavily from the bigger Blazer’s design, laying a multitude of creases, angles, and edges across the Trailblazer’s sheetmetal. Black wheel arch cladding suggests rugged capability. The bisected headlights have angry-looking horizontal LED running lights up top, and projector beams below. Buyers can personalize their Trailblazer with a contrast-painted roof, including Zeus Bronze—the same Zeus Bronze available on the C8 Corvette. Trailblazers can be had in RS or Activ trim, which alters the appearance pretty significantly. Besides a higher ride height and beefy all-terrain tires, Activ models wear skid plate-inspired trim at the bottom of the bumpers and rectangular tailpipe finishers. Sporty looks boost the appeal of the RS trim, with details like a larger, more aggressive grille, aerodynamic bodywork, larger wheels, and a rear diffuser with carbon-fiber-mimicking trim.

Meanwhile, the CX-30’s bodywork is smooth and flowing, with deep sculpting across the doors and gentle, organic tension draped across the front and rear fascia. The polished bar below the headlights and grille adds subtle aggression. Head and taillights are slim and focused, with round elements emphasized in each; LED accent lights are adjacent to the lower grille opening. Black body cladding is prominent on the CX-30, with a strip wrapping all the way around the body’s lower edge. That helps it look higher-riding and more ready to get rugged. Regardless of model, a pair of slim chromed tailpipes are mounted beneath the rear bumper.

The looks of these two are almost too distinctive to compare. Some might think the Trailblazer is sporty and aggressive, others will find it garish and overwrought. The CX-30 has subtlety and elegance, but it may not do enough to stand out. We think they’re each good looking in their own way, so we’re calling exterior design a tie.

Interior

Chevrolet styled the Trailblazer’s interior to feel tough and truck-like, with a chunky layout and upright seating position. It’s got plenty of storage for daily carry items; besides the center console storage there’s a cubby above the glovebox and phone-sized slot between the cupholders. The infotainment touchscreen is front and center on the dashboard, with various media and climate controls below. There’s an available display between the instrument gauges, too. Material quality is to be expected for a Chevrolet in this class. Soft-touch surfaces are applied in critical areas, but it’s mostly undecorated besides red stitching and details in RS models. Storage capacity, however, is an emphasis in the Trailblazer. With seats folded, there’s up to 54.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Also, the front passenger seat can fold fully flat, allowing items up to 8.5 feet long to be stowed inside.

Mazda is on a roll bringing upscale ambiance to its interiors, and that’s no different in the CX-30. The appearance emulates its exterior, with lots of smooth forms and subtle detailing. Materials look and feel premium, with leather-like surfaces, plenty of soft-touch areas, and convincing metallic details. The infotainment screen is positioned at the top of the dash, controlled by a knob behind the shift lever, and there’s a reconfigurable display in the center of the instrument cluster. Storage options and capacity are good, if not exceptional. Cargo volume behind the second row is 20.2 cubic feet, and while Mazda hasn’t stated volume with the seats folded, we estimate it to be a bit more than the CX-3’s 44.5 cubes.

The Trailblazer may edge out the CX-30 on interior space and versatility, but the Mazda is a much nicer place to spend time. Its material quality, layout, and comfort mimic that of cars costing twice as much. As such, there’s no question the CX-30 has the better interior.

Performance

Surprising Trailblazer fact: The entire lineup has three-cylinder engines. They’re all turbocharged units, displacing either 1.2 or 1.3 liters, producing an estimated 137 or 155 hp, and 148 or 174 lb-ft of torque, respectively. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an option on either engine. A CVT is the standard transmission, but choosing the 1.3-liter engine with all-wheel drive brings a nine-speed automatic. All Trailblazers get auto start/stop and selectable snow and sport drive modes.

Mazda makes things simple by offering only a single engine in the CX-30: A 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder producing 186 hp (claimed by Mazda to be class-leading) and 186 lb-ft of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. An off-road traction assist mode improves confidence on tough terrain.

Mazda’s known for making its cars great to drive, although we’re less than impressed by the dynamics of the latest Mazda3 with which the CX-30 shares its underpinnings. However, the Trailblazer’s tiny engines don’t exactly suggest a thrilling driving experience. Even though they’ll likely achieve better fuel economy than the front-wheel-drive CX-30’s estimated 25 city and 33 highway mpg, the Mazda’s larger, more powerful engine has us reaching for the keys. When it comes to performance, the CX-30 has the Trailblazer topped.

Technology

We like Chevrolet’s infotainment system. It’s intuitive, responsive to inputs, and, in the case of the Trailblazer, available with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are two USB ports in the center console, and a wireless charging pad is available. A suite of driver assist technology including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane-keep assist is standard. Adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, and an upgraded high-resolution backup camera are available.

The CX-30 offers a compelling set of tech features. Its dial-controlled infotainment perhaps isn’t quite as easy to use as a touchscreen, but doesn’t take long to get used to. USB cable-enabled Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. Mazda includes a connected services mobile app on all CX-30s, which allows the driver to check the vehicle’s tire pressure, fuel, and oil, start the engine remotely, and lock or unlock the doors. What’s more, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams are all standard. Buyers can option a head-up display, too.

The Trailblazer packs good tech, but the CX-30 offers more. The standard connectivity and driver assist features are a huge draw for a vehicle in this category. They’ll help make the CX-30 relevant for a longer ownership period, making the Mazda the pick on the technology front.

Price

Pricing hasn’t been announced for the Trailblazer, but Chevrolet says it will start below $20,000, making it extremely attainable. However, that’s for the most basic, no-frills version. Choosing all-wheel drive, the larger engine, or either of the styling kits will drive the price up by several thousand dollars.

The least expensive Mazda CX-30 costs $22,945 for a front-wheel drive basic model, while an optioned-up all-wheel drive range-topper exceeds $32,000. There’s lots of leeway in between for customers to choose their ideal mix of features.

There’s price, and then there’s value. The Trailblazer is less expensive, but the CX-30 seems to offer more bang for the buck. While shoppers seeking a cheap vehicle should check out the Trailblazer, the CX-30 is budget friendly even in its most basic trim. Given this, the CX-30 is the better buy of the two.

Winner

Tallying up the categories, the CX-30 beats the Trailblazer in four areas on paper, and ties only in styling. It’s better equipped, more powerful, and a stronger value. Still, we have to say the Trailblazer isn’t far behind. It offers nearly as much in those areas, good cargo volume, likely better fuel economy, and tiny-but-tough styling that some buyers will adore. If you’re drawn to those looks more than the Mazda, Chevrolet’s newest crossover is worth consideration.


















































The post Auto Showdown: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer vs. 2020 Mazda CX-30 appeared first on MotorTrend.

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