Crossovers seem like a dime a dozen, with every car manufacturer elbowing to maneuver their own brand of SUV to the front of the line. With so many brands creating new models to fill the gaps in buyer interests, it helps to be able to compare certain brands. Chevy is coming out with the new 2021 Trailblazer, chock full of tech, and seems to be aiming for an audience with an active lifestyle. The 2020 Nissan Kicks is also loaded with tech and is shooting for the same price range as the Trailblazer. If we compare the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer vs 2020 Nissan Kicks, which one will come out on top?
Engine and Drivetrain
Chevy’s Trailblazer comes standard with a 1.2-liter turbo engine and front-wheel drive. Nissan’s Kicks comes standard with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. When comparing horsepower and torque, the Trailblazer comes in with 137 hp and gets up to 166 lb-ft of torque. The Kicks shows up with 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. Both vehicles have continuously variable automatic transmissions.
Chevy wins this round, and it should be noted that with upgraded trim levels, drivers have the option to add all-wheel drive and utilize the 1.3-liter engine that has a 9-speed automatic transmission. Nissan does not offer all-wheel drive on any trims, which begs one to wonder how this can be classed as an SUV at all. Regardless of the trim level, the Trailblazer has more power and options.
Nissan gives the Kicks halogen headlights, a chrome grille, and somewhat sporty styling, but no roof rails or a spoiler. For those, one must be willing to break into the more expensive trims. Chevy also comes standard with halogen headlights, but the base trim offers a black grille with chrome accents. No roof rails for the base trim on the Trailblazer, but it does have a spoiler. For the SUV buyer, the styling on the Chevy may be just a little bit more attractive, with the body being a little larger and boxier. Both Nissan and Chevy offer the two-tone paint option with upper-level trims to up the ante on the sporty styling.
If you purchase an SUV, you probably want space for cargo. Aside from all-wheel drive (which only Chevy offers in this comparison), most SUV drivers like the extra interior space for hauling gear, moving large items, or having enough room for both people and luggage on trips. Though the Kicks was once considered as having a larger cargo area than other similarly-sized vehicles, Chevy is giving Nissan a serious run for the money. The 2021 Trailblazer will come with 54.4 cubic feet of cargo space to the 32.3 cubic feet available in the 2020 Kicks. These measurements are with the seats folded down, but that’s a big difference.
Another difference often boils down to how comfortable the rear seats will be for passengers. The Trailblazer has 39.4 inches of legroom to the Kicks’ 33.2 inches in the rear seating area. Nearly six inches of space will make a back seat ride far more comfortable in the Trailblazer. Both vehicles have seating for five, come standard with cloth seats, have six-way manually-adjustable driver seats, and a rear bench seat split to fold down. One difference between the rear seats is the Nissan splits 60/40, where the Chevy splits 40/60. This means the wider portion of the back seat is behind the passenger in the Chevy, which allows for larger items to be placed in a continuous cargo area up when the front passenger seat is folded flat (available in the LT trim and higher).
Infotainment and Tech
Both the Trailblazer and the Kicks are vying for tech-oriented buyers, and each vehicle has an impressive array of standard options. Starting with the Trailblazer, it comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE Hotspot, OnStar navigation, wireless phone connectivity, four speakers, steering wheel-mounted audio, voice-activated radio, and speed-sensitive volume. The Kicks comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Siri eyes-free, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, six speakers, steering wheel-mounted audio, and streaming audio via Bluetooth.
Chevy adds three USB ports, a 12-volt power outlet, remote keyless entry, keyfob trunk and door release, an air filter, and auto high-beam headlights. Nissan offers three USB ports, a 12-volt power outlet, remote keyless entry, push-button start, an air filter, and auto high-beam headlights. For the most part, the two vehicles are evenly matched with the exception of the Apple and Android systems on the Chevy, plus the 4G hotspot. For tech lovers, the Chevy has the clear advantage.
Once again, both Nissan and Chevy went out on a limb with driver-assisted tech features. Nissan has a hefty list of features, like pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, high-beam assist, traction control, rear-view monitor, rear sonar, engine immobilization (to prevent theft), and hill-start assist.
Chevy’s list is impressive as well, with features like electronic stability and traction control, forward automatic braking/collision mitigation, tracker system, auto emergency braking, front collision alert, pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, following distance indicator, teen driver tech, rear seat reminder, and security system/immobilizer. Both vehicles have rearview cameras. Once again, despite Nissan’s impressive set of driver-assisted safety features, Chevy goes the extra mile with more.
Day-to-day life matters when it comes to certain little things like map lights and interior storage. Commuting to work is a lot easier when you have a convenient cup holder for your coffee, and long trips are more comfortable when you can keep things tucked out of the way or have a spot to rest your elbow. In the 2021 Trailblazer, little things may make a big difference. Having a solar-absorbing windshield will lower the heat levels inside the vehicle on hot days, a convenience the Nissan Kicks does not offer.
In terms of other interior conveniences, the 2020 Kicks has map pockets on the backs of both the driver and passenger bucket seats, sun visors with mirrors and extensions, overhead map lights, a rear center-seat armrest, two cup-holders, and four cargo tie-down hooks. The 2021 Trailblazer is missing a map pocket on the back of the passenger seat, and in the L trim, it doesn’t have a folding armrest in the back. Chevy did make certain to have storage in the armrest center console, and a spot to store your phones while they charge (with three separate charging options). Nissan also offers three USB ports, and a cubby for the phones while charging.
Comparing the Trims
Nissan has three trim levels for the Kicks: the S, SV, and SR. The S level is the base, which has been the trim we have been comparing to the base trim of the 2021 Trailblazer. The SV trim expands the offerings to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the base model of the Trailblazer, roof rails, remote start, a cargo cover, automatic climate control, satellite radio, and keyless entry.
One last trim level, the SR, adds fog lights, a roof spoiler, 360-degree parking camera, LED headlights, upgraded cloth seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. An optional package will add an 8-speaker Bose audio system, heated front seats, and faux leather interior. Both the SV and SR trims may add the two-tone exterior mentioned earlier.
Chevy’s 2021 Trailblazer has five trim levels: the L, LS, LT, ACTIV, and RS. The L trim has been our comparison model, so moving up to the LS trim will offer the option for all-wheel drive, the turbo engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission, a folding front passenger seat to allow for more interior cargo space, and daytime running LED lights. Next is the LT trim, which adds roof rails, heated front seats, fog lamps, and remote start.
For the next trim level, the ACTIV is meant to aim for the more sporty element and adds on a different grille design, two-tone paint, dual exhaust, sport terrain tires, and leatherette seating. Finally, the RS trim opens up the options with yet another grille design, seats with red accents, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and 18-inch wheels. Both of these trims are aiming for off-road capability.
Choosing the Trailblazer or the Kicks
Though the 2021 Trailblazer comes with a slightly higher price tag than the 2020 Kicks, many elements of the Trailblazer make it the overall better choice. With the Trailblazer, drivers can have all-wheel drive, Apple CarPlay and Android auto on all trims, a standard wifi hotspot for connectivity, and the much more generous interior space for both passengers and cargo. After all, when you want an SUV, you want the ability to handle tough weather and roads. On that point alone, the Trailblazer is the vehicle to choose.