A yellow 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited is shown parked in a field after participating in a 2023 Ford Bronco Sport vs. 2023 Chevy Trailblazer comparison.

2023 Ford Bronco Sport vs. 2023 Chevy Trailblazer

It’s a tricky thing, being built to not only satisfy thrill seekers, but also cater to the driver looking for practicality and simplicity. The results are two off-road capable SUVs, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport vs. 2023 Chevy Trailblazer. Which SUV is the chip on the other’s shoulder? After all, both the Bronco Sport and Chevy Trailblazer have the advantage, or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it, of being relative newcomers onto the scene. The Bronco Sport wasn’t alone in its return, having recently been released alongside its older sibling making a momentous return: the Bronco.

It’s also not the first time Chevy has used the Trailblazer names for one of its vehicles. The original Trailblazer was discontinued after the 2009 model year, and the difference between these two vehicles is leagues apart. The Bronco Sport was instantly received well by fans and critics alike. If there’s one thing for certain, the Bronco Sport and Chevy Trailblazer will be enemies for years to come.

Adventure is Calling – Which Car Will Answer?

A benefit to owning either the Bronco Sport or Trailblazer is the option for adventure and light to moderate off-roading. Having the capability to successfully navigate the path less traveled gives you an excuse to wake up early on a Saturday and make the most of your day off. The Bronco Sport and Trailblazer both work in this regard, but I’d only recommend one vehicle for pure adventure.

Let’s look at the available powertrains. For starters, if you’re planning on doing any off-roading, you should opt for all-wheel or four-wheel drive rather than front-wheel drive. The Trailblazer comes with standard front-wheel drive, and it’s the only option if you stick with the base engine, a 1.2L EcoTec Turbo I-3 making 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the Trailblazers more powerful engine, a 1.3L EcoTec Turbo I-3 that makes 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, still comes with standard front-wheel drive. You need to buy the optional engine plus the optional all-wheel drive powertrain to set up the Trailblazer to blaze trails. Regardless of how you configure the Trailblazer, its maximum towing capacity is a mere 1,000 pounds.

What about the Ford Bronco Sport? Like the 2023 Trailblazer, there are two available powertrains for Bronco Sport drivers. The base engine is a 1.5L EcoBoost Turbo I-3 producing 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, already far more than the Trailblazer’s optional upgrade. Unlike the Trailblazer, the Bronco Sport comes with standard four-wheel drive, so even the most basic Bronco Sport is already more capable than the top-of-the-line Trailblazer. It also tows up to 2,000 pounds, twice as much as any Trailblazer and an actual usable amount. If you’re hungry for even more power, go for the 2.0L EcoBoost Turbo I-4, which makes 250 horsepower, 277 lb-ft of torque, and tows up to 2,200 pounds.

Additionally, many people prefer a traditional automatic transmission than the modern trend of Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT). The Ford Bronco Sport comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission for both of its engine choices. The Trailblazer instead utilizes a CVT for its front-wheel drive models. which isn’t a bad thing, but is not the better choice for average adventuring. All-wheel drive versions of the Trailblazer match its 1.3L Turbo I-3 with a nine-speed automatic transmission, which is comparable to the Bronco Sport.

Are there any benefits to the base Trailblazer powertrain? The base Trailblazer accomplishes slightly higher EPA-estimated ratings than the Bronco Sport’s base engine, but it’s a small difference, given the 29 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway (30 MPG combined) you’d get on the Trailblazer is more than the 25 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway (26 MPG combined) with the base Bronco Sport. Remember, that’s with four-wheel drive, compared to the Trailblazer’s front-wheel drive, which is an advantage in this case.

Yes, there’s a bit of a price disparity between the two vehicles. The base trim Trailblazer LS starts at $23,395 for front-wheel drive, and $25,395 for all-wheel drive. The Bronco Sport costs a bit more, starting at $29,215, but remember that this includes standard four-wheel drive and a much more powerful standard engine than anything you can get in the Trailblazer. To step up to the more powerful engine, you’ll need to splurge for at least the high-end Badlands trim, which starts at $38,090. That’s a sizable chunk of change, but with the Bronco Sport is that you get what you pay for. When it comes to capability, the Bronco Sport has the Trailblazer beat.

Space for the Weekdays and Beyond

The right SUV is more than its performance or adventuring capabilities. Just as important is how it’ll perform in the more generic portions of your day, such as commuting to work, driving the kids to school, and grocery shopping. The Bronco Sport and Trailblazer are both true to their roots, high-quality American engineering serving drivers and families from all walks of life. Part of this is ensuring drivers have a cabin with more than enough space. It’s always better to have an ample amount, even if it’s slightly more than you will need on a regular basis.

For cargo space, it’s another clear win for the 2023 Bronco Sport. The amount of cargo space you have will depend on which powertrain you have installed, but both variants still offer more room than the Trailblazer, which offers a reasonable 54.4 cu. ft. of space with the back seats folded down, and 25.3 cu. ft. with the seats up. Bronco Sport models equipped with the 1.5L engine offer 32.5 cu. ft. with the seats up and a spacious 65.2 cu. ft. with the seats down, far more than the Trailblazer. Models with the 2.0L engine take a small hit on cargo space, but still offer 29.4 cu. ft. with the seats up and 60.6 cu. ft. with the seats down, still beating the Trailblazer by a wide margin.

Take the Reins

Which of these two SUVs is the better purchase for the adventurous lifestyle, but also one that knows how to remain practical during your day-to-day life? As always, it depends on your needs. If price is an object, you don’t leave the pavement much, and you don’t need the added power, towing capacity, or cargo space, you could be quite happy with a Chevy Trailblazer. It’s not designed nor intended to be a serious off-road vehicle, but a snazzy ride for the street that can handle maintained dirt roads with ease. One could make a strong argument that these two vehicles belong in different categories, since the Bronco Sport is designed for off-road use and the Trailblazer is not. That’s not obvious at first glance, though, and you really need to dig deeper, as we have here, to find out what each vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Personally, though, I’d say you should take the reins of the Ford Bronco Sport. While it’s more expensive than the Trailblazer, you get so much more for your money, inside and out. Even if you stick with a lower trim level and the smaller engine to keep the price closer to the Trailblazer’s, the Bronco Sport is more than worth the relatively small additional investment to get a more capable, more spacious SUV that’s a true off-roader as well.