Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close up shows driver side headlight on a yellow 2023 Chevy Trailblazer ACTIV.

Is It Ever Practical to Buy the Top-of-the-Line Trim? When Splurging Makes Sense

Buyers nowadays worry about value. Bound by tight budgets and concerns about reliability and durability, many new SUV buyers put premium features on the back burner. Choosing a high-end trim isn’t a luxury most practical buyers would consider. Still, sometimes a more expensive trim might be the better value. Consider the 2023 Chevy Trailblazer, one of Chevy’s most popular SUVs. With four trims priced only a few thousand dollars apart, the best value hides in plain sight.

Trim selection is essential whether you buy or lease your new vehicle. Leasing allows one to move up the trim range without driving up monthly payments. Buyers looking to finance their cars might be tempted to decide based on the monthly payment amount, but residual value plays a role, especially when it’s time to trade or sell. What other factors should you consider as you narrow your search to a specific trim?

Buying a practical car doesn’t always mean settling for the base model. Each trim in the 2023 Trailblazer lineup offers a unique value proposition, such as a low sticker price or an upgraded premium audio system and infotainment screen. Considering subjective factors and not just the number on the window sticker can help you squeeze as much value as possible out of your new SUV. As it turns out, practical can also equal premium.

The Trailblazer LS: Base Model Features

As base models go, the 2023 Chevy Trailblazer is surprisingly well-equipped, especially compared to other SUVs in the category priced far higher. For example, Chevy includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a tech feature typically only seen in top-level trims. Chevy also includes Chevy Safety Assist, a suite of driver-assist safety technologies that utilize radar, sensors, and cameras to monitor the area surrounding the vehicle for potential hazards.

One premium system in the Chevy Safety Assist suite is IntelliBeam auto high beams. They automate the Trailblazer’s headlights to automatically switch between low- and high-beam settings when driving at night. The feature is proven to combat driver fatigue and increase nighttime driving visibility for the operator and other motorists.

Another standard safety feature found across the Trailblazer trim range is Teen Driver. Teen Driver allows parents to closely monitor their young driver’s behavior through a series of app-based systems that alert when a set speed is exceeded or when the vehicle travels outside a preset geographical boundary. Teen Driver also logs the number of times the Forward Collision Alert system was triggered, which typically indicates the driver may be tailgating. This system and many others found standard on the base Trailblazer offer advanced technologies befitting a far more expensive vehicle.

A close up shows the center console and shifter in a 2023 Chevy Trailblazer RS.

The Top-Of-The-Line Trailblazer RS Is Surprisingly Practical

The Trailblazer RS is a big jump financially at roughly $4,000 more than the base LS. Still, it has several key features that can improve the residual value and fetch you more when it’s time to trade. Also, vehicles with higher residual values mean lower lease payments, so lessees benefit from upgrading. The best part about the Trailblazer RS is that the included additional features are practical yet feel premium.

First, the RS comes with all-wheel drive and the larger 1.3-liter turbocharged engine. The more powerful 155-horsepower engine speeds up acceleration and overcomes the extra weight of the all-wheel drive system. Even with more power, the configuration only decreases fuel economy slightly. Second, Chevy adds larger 18-inch wheels to the RS, which provide additional traction in wet weather and slippery road conditions.

Chevy skips stuffing in extra bells and whistles to keep the Trailblazer RS’s price point low. These features can be found in extra-cost add-on packages, a price strategy Chevy uses to give buyers the freedom to choose what’s worth paying more to add. For example, the available Convenience Package adds automatic climate control and a larger 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. These features may not be important to more practical-minded buyers.

Incremental price increases are a hallmark of Chevy’s value-oriented trim logic. Choosing the upper-level RS trim bundles all-wheel drive and the more powerful engine, along with larger wheels, all of which increase performance and capability. If your budget allows you to spend a few thousand more, selecting this trim will pay benefits over the years. All-wheel drive and a more powerful motor are two attractive features used car buyers want.

When a Mid-Range Trim Makes Sense

Automakers like Chevy prefer to bundle popular features in every trim. For the 2023 Trailblazer, the LT and Activ trims represent tremendous value for practical buyers. On the LT, the standard remote start and keyless open feature add value to buyers who don’t want to fumble with a key. LED fog lamps are also standard on this trim, a feature that adventure seekers might value and be willing to pay more to have included.

When deciding whether it’s practical to move up from the base model, consider factors like your area’s geography. For example, if it rains frequently, or if you live in a four-season climate, it might make sense to spend more for an upper-level trim with cold-weather features like heated seats and all-wheel drive, which will increase your comfort and the vehicle’s potential resale value. As you shop, be aware that many mid-range trims are designed to push buyers further up the trim range.

Most dealers order inventory that reflects the most popular configurations in their region. Therefore, if you desire a specific set of features, you may need to work with your dealer to order a vehicle directly from the factory. This also applies to buyers who want a less popular exterior color. The Trailblazer is unique in that some of the most popular colors are the least common on most SUVs. Hues like the bright Nitro Yellow Metallic pair with a two-tone roof for a vehicle-specific curb appeal.

Additionally, a mid-range trim may also make sense within the context of how and where you drive. Any 2023 Trailblazer trim offers benefits for commuters, but the mid-range LT’s remote start feature might justify the extra cost. Conversely, upgrading to the Activ or the RS isn’t ideal for commuters because the more powerful 155-hp engine reduces overall fuel economy. For commuters, comfort and convenience play a more prominent role because drivers are behind the wheel for longer stretches. These considerations may justify purchasing a mid-range model like the Trailblazer LT.

A grey 2023 Chevy Trailblazer is shown from the side parked on a city street.

Find The Trailblazer at Your Chevy Dealer

Many decisions go into purchasing or leasing a new vehicle with practical features. Whether you opt for the least expensive base model or graduate through the trim range to a more expensive version isn’t always a price-driven decision. How you define practicality is what should ultimately determine your decision. No two buyers are alike, which is the purpose of a varied and diverse trim range.

Manufacturers like Chevy offer popular models in multiple configurations so buyers can easily vector in on the SUV with features they determine are practical and necessary. Still, not all automakers follow this logic, so be sure to focus on each specification to determine the most practical option. Factors like fuel economy, breadth of standard features, and technology all play a role in helping you end up with a car you’ll enjoy driving and one that will hold its value.