Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2024 Chevy Trailblazer RS is shown from the side on a city street.

The Chevy Trailblazer: A Tale of Two Drivers

When looking at a Chevy Trailblazer for sale, one of your first steps would be to review its trims, as these are how this model is subsequently fine-tuned to appeal to different lifestyles. The ACTIV and RS trim are perhaps the best examples of this practice, as they serve two distinctly opposite types of drivers: outbacking, adventurous drivers versus sporty, social drivers.

Plenty of folks like to have a little bit of both, but it’s worth examining how much these two trims are targeting different audiences despite coming from the same model. If you’re planning on purchasing a Trailblazer soon, you want to know how the trims differ and what each will allow you to do.

These two Trailblazer trims are a remarkable example of just how much difference some tweaks can make. Other vehicles have trims that just make small, cosmetic changes—ones other drivers and passengers may not even notice. In this case, the ACTIV and RS trims almost seem like different models; they both make a statement in appearance and capability but in completely different ways—and that’s exciting if you’re deciding on a new crossover.

The Chevy Trailblazer

To truly understand the ACTIV and RS trims, you must begin with an overview of the Chevy Trailblazer. This nameplate has been around for decades, but the current iteration—a crossover SUV—hit the marketplace in the 2021 model year. Despite the crossover SUV segment being so competitive, the new Trailblazer made an immediate impact and sold well. It appeals to a wide variety of drivers, ranging from families to solo drivers who want extra room for athletic gear and equipment.

Both the ACTIV and RS trims form around the Trailblazer’s upgraded powertrain, helmed by a 1.3L EcoTec Turbo engine that produces 155 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. You’ll enjoy a steady, smooth ride with this engine and its CVT (or nine-speed automatic transmission) no matter where you drive. This setup provides solid fuel economy, too—with an EPA-estimated 26 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway in all-wheel drive—so you’ll go quite a few miles before having to visit the gas station, even if you’re doing a lot of stop-and-go in bad traffic.

As a crossover SUV, the Trailblazer more than fulfills one of the most important duties an SUV has: substantial cargo room. The Trailblazer has up to 54.4 cu.ft. of cargo volume when the back row is folded down and a still-hearty 25.3 cu.ft. when all seats are occupied—so don’t let the Trailblazer’s subcompact size fool you because it can still handle plenty of luggage.

Now that we’ve established our baseline, let’s see how the ACTIV and RS trims shake the Trailblazer up and turn it into something truly special…

A yellow 2024 Chevy Trailblazer Activ is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has a Chevy Trailblazer for sale.

The Adventurous Lifestyle

When we talk about a trim like the ACTIV—one that lets you outback and live an exciting, outdoorsy lifestyle—it’s easy to feel slightly unsure of what that means. Are we talking about taking some serious jaunts across a desert, or are we just saying it can handle driving on dirt?

To us, an adventurous trim should mean you feel comfortable no matter where your trip takes you. With an outdoorsy trim, you should feel like your possible destinations increase greatly; rolling out to a campsite or tackling rocky roads shouldn’t cause anxiety. Nature should feel inviting, not intimidating, and your vehicle should have features that don’t just “handle” offroading but make it as easy as going down the highway.

The ACTIV Trim

When Chevy designed the ACTIV trim, they were clearly keeping that adventurous lifestyle in mind. If you want your weekends to be spent outdoors, away from trodden ground, then the Chevy Trailblazer ACTIV is a no-brainer purchase. This will let you have a lot of fun without worrying that every bump you hit will lead to a visit to your local mechanic.

Case in point, the ACTIV trim brings off-road suspension tuning to the Trailblazer, which will ensure that your trips go smoothly. You’ll be able to manipulate height and tire traction so that your Trailblazer will be in the perfect condition for your adventures.

In a similar vein is the skid plating that your ACTIV trim features. Skid plating does you a huge favor as it protects your vehicle’s underbody from damage if you drive over jagged rocks or comparable obstacles. While it won’t protect you against something truly unruly, you’ll drive with confidence even if the road becomes hazardous.

Another great outdoorsy feature is the roof rack cross rails, as these allow you to strap gear and equipment to the roof of your Trailblazer. This will prove useful if you plan to do some serious sports, as it gives you extra room to carry longer items—such as kayaks, bikes, or skis—that you don’t want or can’t fit inside your vehicle.

As a fun bonus, this trim comes with ACTIV badging so that everyone who spots your vehicle knows you enjoy the great outdoors.

The Sporty, Social Lifestyle

Don’t assume a crossover can’t supply you with some flashy fun because it surely can. A sporty vibe tells folks you’re a social person and that, when you pull up to a party, a club, or even the office, you want your ride to stand out among the rest.

If you’re looking for that sporty feel, you’ll want to add some character to your ride, an aerodynamic look, and a couple of exterior upgrades that draw the eye. For the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the RS trim does precisely this.

The black interior of a 2024 Chevy Trailblazer RS is shown from the passenger seat.

The RS Trim

This trim makes a statement with its 19-inch high-gloss black machined wheels that will catch attention on the road, with their spiral look adding class and coolness to your crossover. These wheels will shine in the sun and give you great traction in the rain.

This is a perfect example of how simple changes convert the RS into an enviable ride. Likewise, the front grille features a dark chrome bar that provides a sense of intimidation to the front of your Trailblazer; it pairs well with the blackened bowtie emblem, too. If you opt for a darker exterior, such as the Mosaic Black Metallic, the combination of color and grille bar will make your crossover seem like a creature of the night. Just as the ACTIV trim came with ACTIV badging, the RS comes with its own badging that matches the sporty nature of your crossover.

The interior appears just as sleek and cool as the exterior. You’ll enjoy a luxurious touch with the flat-bottom steering wheel—just like you’d find in a performance vehicle—and it’s heated, to boot; your driver’s seat will be heated, too. Red interior accents give your crossover a true “sports car” vibe and will have all your passengers impressed and likely envious.

For those who want a sensible crossover with a fashionable touch and performance features, the RS trim waits for you.

What Type of Driver Are You?

When choosing between trims like the ACTIV and RS, you’ll have to ask yourself what type of driver you are. This is part of the fun of buying a new vehicle: deciding what you plan to do with your new ride, how you’ll adapt to it, and how it will expand your opportunities over the coming years.

What makes the Trailblazer particularly exciting in this regard is how its trims allow you to enjoy radically different driving lifestyles, all while still having the benefits of a crossover SUV. There’s no one-size-fits-all here. When you test out both trims, you’ll discover just what it is you want from your next crossover and what type of driver you plan to be.