When you think of an off-road vehicle, what springs to mind? Most likely, it’s a rugged beast of a machine dripping with mud and testosterone. For a long time, it seems like “serious” off-road vehicles have been geared towards a specific group or club. To be a part of this club, you had to drive a vehicle that could take out a small town without breaking a sweat–that is, until the 2023 Chevy Trailblazer came along.
The 2023 Chevy Trailblazer ACTIV is not your typical off-road vehicle. Its gruff stance is a bit more reminiscent of a baby bulldog, rather than a pit bull. Instead of the typical color palette of muscle and rage, the colors are vibrant and full of energy. It’s an off-road vehicle, but for those who don’t take life so seriously. You don’t have to go all-in with the ACTIV, which is one of its biggest appeals.
It will never be able to crawl over rocks, take a dive into muddy puddles, or scale steep mountain tops, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be able to offer a fun ride. There is plenty to do in the ACTIV that offers thrill and excitement. All-wheel drive and a specialized suspension is the key to enjoying a trail where you jump puddles, feel the gravel beneath your wheels, and enjoy the little things.
Walk the Walk
One of the major aspects of an off-road vehicle is its looks. You can spot one a mile away with its aggressive, domineering stance and a flurry of extras designed to intimidate the wildlife. Despite lacking all these qualities, the Trailblazer ACTIV still manages to muster a response reminiscent of a full-size off-road vehicle.
The front of the ACTIV is bold, making sure to draw attention. The grille has a shutter system, designed to feed air into the engine for better performance but close for better aerodynamics when cruising. It takes away some of the drama of the grille, but does lend a more hearty appearance to the front face. Special chrome-plated front and rear lower fascias are also part of its beastly glow-up.
Narrow headlamps create a flow, giving the Trailblazer’s design movement. The lines continue onto the side with sculpted paneling to give the body a muscular vibe. The addition of a functional skid plate and roof rails round out the ACTIV’s sturdy new look. Being more compact than many vehicles used for recreational activity means it’s easier to maneuver and won’t be a bother in everyday driving.
Just Enough Oomph
The Trailblazer ACTIV is equipped with an ECOTEC Turbo engine, compact but powerful, much like the Trailblazer itself. It produces 155 horsepower and 174 ft-lb of torque, just enough zip to take on the trails. Optional all-wheel drive and the specially tuned off-road suspension unique to the ACTIV trim enable it to power through adverse terrain.
In case your Trailblazer takes on a little more than it can handle, a front skid plate is standard equipment for the ACTIV, helping protect what’s most important. If you really want to play the part, an optional add on is a tubular nudge bar, great for protecting the lower front fascia from damage.
The Trailblazer ACTIV optimizes traction and stability through the three available drive modes. Normal is great for driving around town. Sport mode gives you quicker throttle response and more responsive feedback. The third mode is called Snow mode on front-wheel drive models, and All-Wheel-Drive on ACTIVs equipped with the optional AWD. In either case, this mode is great for low-traction environments, including off-road as well as snowy conditions. Throw in the optional block engine heater and the cold won’t hold you back. The exclusive 17-inch high-gloss black wheels are wrapped in sport-terrain blackwall tires that add even more pep in the ACTIV’s step.
Towing is an additional feature that makes going off the grid an exciting prospect. With a 1,000-pound towing capacity, you can take along a light trailer with ATVs, dirt bikes, or even a small boat.
Let the Outside In
Available on the ACTIV is the sun and liftgate package, which I recommend adding. This includes a panoramic sunroof, which allows for fantastic views when off-roading. Open it up to get fresh air and sunshine, which is one of the main reasons to go bounding through the outdoors. A hands-free liftgate is also part of the package, which makes loading and unloading your gear easy. The addition of roof mounted rails adds easy storage solutions, as well as an extra rugged touch.
Bring sports equipment, camping gear, and more thanks to the 60/40 split folding rear bench seat, which offers flexible storage. Fold down both seats along with the front passenger seat for maximum storage capacity. If you aren’t riding solo, your front seat companion can enjoy heated seats. There is even a heated steering wheel option, perfect for a long day of driving around in the cold.
The Whole Ball of Wax
The Trailblazer ACTIV is a fantastic vehicle for anyone who wants the freedom of the great outdoors without losing sight of the indoors. A full suite of safety and connectivity tech means you don’t have to lose sight of everyday conveniences. Wi-Fi capabilities combined with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keeps you connected.
An 8-inch touchscreen displays important information, and a rear camera makes backing out of tough situations a breeze. Features like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Assist, and Forward Collision Alert make the Trailblazer perfect for on-the-road driving, too. You don’t have to choose one over the other. Impressive fuel efficiency of 29 MPG city and 33 MPG highway is another bonus for daily driving when you aren’t going down the trails.
The ACTIV even features a great program called Teen Driver, which helps you keep a digital eye on your new driver. Set guidelines for your teens that help them become a better driver, get feedback, and even see a report card on their driving habits. You will feel safe knowing when you aren’t in the car, there is still safety guiding your teen.
Join The Off-Road Club
You don’t need to drive a monster truck to experience what off-roading has to offer. For some it’s a lifestyle, and others a hobby, but in the ACTIV it can be a little bit of everything. Many serious off-road vehicles are a joy to drive on the trail, but uncomfortable for the daily commute, which is where you may spend the majority of your drive time. The Trailblazer ACTIV is your invitation to join the club without giving up the comforts of a daily driver. Its compact size makes it easier to drive than other SUVs, and its unique styling is just gruff enough to fit into the pack.
The 2023 Chevy Trailblazer ACTIV comes in at an impressive price, starting at $27,495 for the front-wheel drive model and $28,995 for the desirable all-wheel drive version, making customizing it that much better. Adding on a few packages take the trail-ready SUV and elevate it just enough. Although it isn’t traditional, it is perfect for someone looking to get into off-roading. It truly is a club for everybody.