A red 2022 Chevy Trailblazer RS is shown from the side parked on a city street.

The Endangered Automobiles: The Industry Shifts Towards SUVs

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet has become one of the most popular in the world. In 2020 alone, Chevy sold around 1.7 million vehicles in the USA and was the third top-selling brand. With a rise in the popularity of crossovers and other SUVs, the industry seems to be shifting its focus. Chevy gave us a prime example of this shift when they reintroduced the Trailblazer for 2021 after discontinuing their compact sedan, the Cruze. And since the 2021 Trailblazer became one of the fastest-selling vehicles, Chevy decided to continue the SUV sales increase by releasing the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer.

Under Pressure Amid the Shift

As a powerhouse brand like Chevrolet, it is hard to ignore the pressure of the shifting industry. Since its introduction, the small SUV segment has continued to rise in popularity, slowly surpassing the now endangered car segments. In 2020 alone, a little over 1 million small SUVs sold, which was more than 2019. That put the small SUV segment at 7.4% of the US car market. The newly designed Chevy Trailblazer, originally predicted to disappoint its enthusiasts, even added to those sales for 2020 by selling 34,292 units.

Chevrolet is not the first brand to shift focus away from the car segments due to an increased demand for SUVs. Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles decided to change their lineups to focus on the SUV and truck segments first. Toyota has even cut a few of its cars from their lineup that were slow sellers, such as the Yaris and the Avalon. Now offering seven SUV options in all sizes, not including their electric options, Chevy is right up there with providing a variety of choices alongside its leading rivals, Ford and Toyota.

Why the Shift in Demand?

Crossovers and small SUVs offer the convenience of a truck and a car in just one vehicle allowing us to avoid the financial burden of needing multiple automobiles. It’s a luxury that most of us don’t even consider a luxury. Vehicle versatility was never an option in the past. You could choose from vans and wagons and even hatchbacks, but there was never a variety of small, versatile SUVs like we have now.

Small SUV and crossover body types are either compact or subcompact. Compact models, for the most part, have two rows of seating, although some offer three. Subcompact models are the smallest option for an SUV or crossover, offering only two rows of seating for passengers. Compact models that you may be familiar with are the Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, and Toyota RAV4. As for the subcompact variety, the Buick Encore, Jeep Renegade, and the new Chevy Trailblazer are all grouped in this category. When deciding on an SUV body type, you need to remember that size is not always everything.

An open tailgate on a brown 2022 Chevy Trailblazer shows the rear cargo space.

Small Yet Satisfying

Compact and subcompact SUVs may be classified and described as small, but that does not mean there is a lack of space in these vehicles. Being small means these automobiles maneuver easily in tight spaces, can fit nicely in parking spots and garages, but still offer an ample amount of interior space. Small SUVs not only give you and your passengers plenty of legroom but also have additional room for cargo.

The 2022 Chevy Trailblazer, for example, seats up to five people and offers 40.9 inches of legroom in the front and 39.4 inches in the back seat. This model also gives you a maximum of 54.4 cubic feet of cargo space with 60/40-split second-row folding seats. The addition of a fold-flat front passenger seat means you can put items as long as 8.5 feet inside the vehicle with no problem. Not to mention, it has a two-level load floor in the back to allow you to utilize even more of the interior space for your groceries or other belongings. It just goes to show, you should not judge any SUV by its exterior stature.

Great Performers in Small Packages

The performance of a vehicle is one of the many things people look for when purchasing an automobile. Whether they want towing capacity, good fuel economy, or even just something that they can drive in any weather condition, people want a vehicle that performs. Small SUVs are options that allow you to have it all.

When you look at the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer, it offers the whole performance package. The available 1.3L Turbo engine provides a solid 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, which compares favorably to other popular subcompact models like the 2022 Honda HR-V, with its 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. The Trailblazer is also available with all-wheel drive for greater versatility.

While SUVs are known for all-wheel drive, many subcompact models, like the 2022 Hyundai Venue or the 2022 Kia Soul, do not offer this important feature. With all-wheel drive, you get the freedom to drive stress-free and safer in any weather or on uneven road surfaces. No matter what the road conditions are: whether they are wet or slippery from rain, ice, or snow, you can worry less about losing traction. And less stress and worry means a more enjoyable ride.

The Trailblazer also offers a combined fuel economy rating of 30 to 31 mpg for front-wheel drive versions and 28 mpg for all-wheel drive models. That is a high average for fuel economy when compared with some of the other subcompact SUVs, especially when you consider the Trailblazer’s capable engine options. The handful of subcompact SUV options that do offer more power have significantly worse fuel economy.

A close up of the front of a brown 2022 Chevy Trailblazer shows the driver's side headlight and grille.

Everything You Need at an Affordable Price

When you think of buying a vehicle that fulfills all of your wants and needs, you would expect a hefty price tag to go with it. Especially when you are getting the best of a truck and a car, you would think the convenience alone would mean more money, but it does not. Small SUVs are affordable options for the amount of versatility you get with them.

The 2022 Chevy Trailblazer, for example, has a starting MSRP of $21,600. That is on the lower end compared to some in its class. Luxury subcompact SUVs can be expensive, with options like the 2022 BMW X2 carrying a price tag of $36,600, but most small SUVs start with an MSRP well under $30,000. The smaller SUV body type lineup confirms that your budget does not need to suffer for you to get the whole package.

Will the Rise of SUVs Cause the Extinction of Cars?

There is no way of knowing if cars will still be available in years to come. There are many brands slowly shifting their vehicle lineups to match the demands of consumers. We can only assume that we will see even fewer cars on the road than we already do if the rising popularity and demand for SUVs and trucks continue.

A few manufacturers, such as Honda and Toyota, are still hanging on to their best-selling cars. Although there are only a few sedan options left, the endangered car segment still stands a chance due to the brands that are not ready to eliminate them. But with the consistent increase in demand for trucks and SUVs and the production of top-notch models like the 2022 Chevy Trailblazer, it is hard to predict what the future holds for the life of the car segment.