Well, that crossover category in the automotive industry sure exploded, didn’t it? A few years ago, companies had large portfolios of sedans, but now they fed all those sedans their vegetables, and now we have the current automotive selection: crossover after crossover after crossover. In fact, you’ll probably find most manufacturers have three crossovers (or more) to every available sedan. But hey, it’s like IPAs in the beer world. Sure, there are so many other kinds to make, but if that’s what the public wants, that’s what the public wants. And one such kind of crossover is the compact crossover, which gives you a smaller sedan design frame with a larger, SUV-style body. Recently, Chevy unveiled its 2021 Chevy Trailblazer, which we will be comparing against its biggest competitor, the Nissan Kicks. So, if this is the kind of vehicle design you’re looking for, here’s what you need to know with the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer vs 2020 Nissan Kicks.
Kicking off our little comparison battle is the price for the two vehicles. The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer looks to have an entry MSRP of $19,000 with the base trim. The top trim, which will be the RS, will have an MSRP of $25,400. The Nissan Kicks, on-the-other-hand, will have an MSRP of $18,870. This is for the Kicks’ S trim. Nissan usually doesn’t make many trims for its vehicles, and it typically doesn’t vary much with the trims, so the top-tier trim has a lower price because it doesn’t have many additional features. The SR Nissan Kicks has an MSRP of $21,120.
Paying For Engine Performance
Alright, so the Nissan Kicks is less expensive. That’s nice, but it’s only the first step of this compact crossover battle. And let’s face it, a slightly lower price point won’t matter if the rest of the performance features can’t add up. The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer will have two engine options. As we pointed out earlier, Chevy likes to offer different features, while Nissan tends to keep everything pretty universal. This holds true with the engine, as you won’t have a choice with the powertrain here.
The entry engine for the Trailblazer is a 1.2L Turbo that produces 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. This is the engine that comes on all the front-wheel drive versions of the Trailblazer. The second engine offering for the Trailblazer comes with a 1.3L Turbo that produces 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the 1.2L engine, the 1.3L engine can come with both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models.
On the other hand, the 2020 Nissan Kicks comes with a singular 1.6L I4 engine. This non-turbo engine produces 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. This engine significantly underperforms, even when compared to the 1.2L engine. Hopefully, Nissan picks up its game in the engine department with the next model year, but for now, you’re stuck with a crossover SUV that produces just 114 lb-ft of torque. You could nab just about any mid 90’s car, and it would produce more torque, which isn’t a great comparison for the compact sport utility vehicle crossover.
We pointed this out in the earlier section, but the Trailblazer comes with two drivetrains. The base is front-wheel drive, which also comes with the smaller 1.2L engine. The other is an all-wheel drive option that comes with both the 1.2L and 1.3L Turbo engine. The Nissan Kicks comes only with front-wheel drive. You have no all-wheel or four-wheel drivetrains.
We find this to be more than just a little disappointing. At this point in time, any kind of larger vehicle should realistically come with optional AWD or 4WD. The necessary transfer case components tucked on the underside of the vehicle did take up more space, which is just one reason why for the longest time, only full-sized SUVs and trucks came with 4WD (outside of some rather interesting Toyota hatchbacks back in the day). However, in 2020, there’s really no excuse for a crossover of any kind to not have an optional drivetrain. It is just as much a safety feature as airbags or seat belts. You can add all the traction control and smart safety features you want to a vehicle; it doesn’t do much good if the vehicle doesn’t have any power on the road.
Some Cargo Numbers
Okay, so at this point, it’s pretty clear we’re not a huge fan (or a fan at all) of the lackluster Kicks engine or the lack of a secondary drivetrain option. So maybe it will redeem itself with its cargo numbers? It is a compact model, so it is important to keep all of that in mind.
The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer kicks things off with 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. This is when the back seat is locked in and ready to be used. Or, if you decide to fold it down, cargo space jumps to 54.4 cubic feet.
As for the 2020 Nissan Kicks, the compact crossover does start with 25.3 cubic feet, which is the same as the Trailblazer. Not bad. However, when you fold down the rear seat you end up with just 32.3 cubic feet of total space. This, again, is incredibly disappointing. It now only reflects on how poor the overall cargo space is, but it points to just how small the back seat is. If you’re folding down the back seat and you’re only gaining 7 cubic feet, it means either the back seat just won’t fold down, or the back seat has about seven inches of legroom. Either way, not good.
Hopeful For Entertainment
Something has to save the Nissan Kicks, right? People are buying the vehicle, after all. So either completely misinformed people are walking into the shop like zombies and just paying for the first vehicle they see, or there is some kind of selling point to it. Because so far, outside of that $1,000 savings, it doesn’t make sense. And, it should be pretty clear the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer has well surpassed the value of the small price difference.
On the 2021 Trailblazer, the Chevy uses a 7-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system is called the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System, which features both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also comes standard with 4G LTE hotspot capability. Spring to the upper-tier models, and it also allows for wireless charging.
On the 2020 Nissan Kick, it uses the same sized touchscreen. However, the base model does not have either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. In fact, to receive something similar to the Chevy you’ll need to upgrade your trim to at least the SV, and the problem with this is the upgrade will end up costing you more than the base Trailblazer, and up to this point, the only reason you should even consider buying the Kicks is the price savings. Well, that’s all out the window now. And even with that, the Kicks doesn’t offer WiFi on any of its models. Again, it’s 2020. A vehicle should at least have this option. The Nissan Kicks doesn’t.
We’ve always been fans of the larger SUVs and pickups, but we totally get why someone might want a smaller crossover. The thing is, though, when you want a crossover, you still want some performance. The Nissan Kicks has none of it. Frankly, we have no clue why someone would buy it. Maybe the next time we see someone driving down the street with one, we’ll wave them down and ask. But how about you? What do you think?