May 18, 2024


Automotive to Us

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer or 2021 Jeep Compass? Pros and Cons

Chevrolet Trailblazer Full Overview

What’s more important: having actual off-road capability, or looking like you do? We’ve seen enough Jeep Wranglers on 22-inch wheels to know that true capability isn’t always why people buy SUVs—appearances matter, too. To that end, the 2021 Jeep Compass and 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer seek to provide a weekend adventurer look in a subcompact package. Both crossovers’ fuel economy scores are higher than their breakover angles, but which is better off-road? Does that matter if you want a versatile, inexpensive, and stylish SUV? Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of these two small crossovers.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer: Pros Over the Compass

Fuel Economy

In most configurations, the Trailblazer ekes out a few more miles per gallon than the Compass. Chevrolet offers it with a 1.2- or 1.3-liter turbo-three engine. The smaller engine is FWD only and returns 28/31 mpg city/highway. The larger engine gets 29/33 mpg with FWD, while AWD drops it down to 26/30 mpg.

Meanwhile, the Compass is equipped solely with a 2.4-liter I-4. It gets 22/31 mpg with FWD and 22/30 mpg with AWD. Expect the Compass Trailhawk to lose efficiency in both measures on account of its off-road hardware. Although the Jeep is quite efficient on the highway given its extra cylinder, the Chevrolet makes more of each gallon of gas in city driving.

Interior Packaging

The Trailblazer looks small outside but feels big inside. Front-row headroom measures 40.0 inches, a bit more than the Compass’ 39.2 inches. Second-row headroom is 38.4 inches in the Trailblazer, about the same as the Compass’ 38.5 inches. Front-row legroom is 40.9 inches in the Chevy, less than the Jeep’s 41.8 inches. However, second-row legroom is slightly greater in the Trailblazer, at 39.4 inches to the Compass’ 38.3 inches.

Although passenger space measurements are similar, we’ve criticized the Compass for its lack of storage areas for keys, phones, and other daily carry items. The Trailblazer has no such issue; its center console and door bins are designed to keep doodads within easy reach.


If you’re looking for new wheels at the lowest price, the Trailblazer is your choice here. The basic L trim has an MSRP of $19,995. Granted, that’s the no-frills fleet spec model, but the one-step-up Trailblazer LS FWD is still cheap at $22,595. That’s less than the least expensive Compass—the Sport FWD trim—which starts at a comparatively steep $25,410.

Even at the high end, the Trailblazer undercuts the Compass. When paired with AWD, the rugged Trailblazer Activ and street-styled RS trims top the range at $27,995 each. Meanwhile, the Compass Trailhawk starts at $32,310. None of this is to say one is necessarily a better value, but the Trailblazer is undeniably less expensive than the Compass.

2021 Jeep Compass: Pros Over the Trailblazer

Off-Road Ability

Can the Trailblazer actually blaze a trail? Um, not quite. In its basic FWD trims, the Compass likely isn’t much of a trail brute, either. But a Jeep ain’t a Jeep without some off-road chops, and for that there’s the Compass Trailhawk. This range-topping model is equipped with a suspension lift, all-terrain tires, off-road driving modes, and a low-range transmission setting among its adventure-ready upgrades. The Trailhawk model is capable off-road, but Compass models equipped with AWD perform well in common low-traction scenarios, too. If you’re after a true off-road rig, a subcompact crossover probably isn’t the right choice. But if you must have a small SUV and want to do some exploring, the Compass offers that hardware.

Cargo Space

Here the Compass beats the Trailblazer fair and square—or should we say fair and cube? That’s because its cargo area has 27.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row, or 59.8 cubic feet with the second row folded. The Trailblazer’s cargo bay is smaller, although not by much; it offers 25.3 cubes behind the second row or 54.4 with the seats folded down. Plus, the Trailblazer is available with a flat-folding front passenger seat to allow storage of long items.

Ride Quality

For as capable as it is off-road, the Compass rides well on sealed surfaces, too—provided those surfaces are smooth. It’s reasonably smooth and quiet on good pavement and feels stable when rounding corners. The Trailhawk model’s generous sidewall tires seem to further soften the ride. However, we’ve found the Compass to struggle on rough, choppy roads, and it even shook and rattled over high-frequency impacts. That’s not great, but it’s better than the Trailblazer. The little Chevy feels needlessly stiff, and hitting road imperfections causes a lot of noise inside the cabin. Neither of these SUVs is luxurious, but the Compass is just a bit more comfortable in most driving situations.

The Verdict

In a segment full of good options, the Jeep Compass and Chevrolet Trailblazer frankly aren’t near the top. Yet they offer some appeal with nice styling and versatility. The Compass isn’t as efficient or affordable, but all-terrain capability backs up its Jeep name. The Trailblazer isn’t as rugged or comfortable, but its clever and spacious interior suit it for modern drivers’ needs. These crossovers must improve to gain a decisive edge over the other.

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer: Pros Over the Compass

  • Better fuel economy
  • Smarter interior
  • Lower starting price

2021 Jeep Compass: Pros Over the Trailblazer

  • More off-road ready
  • Greater cargo space
  • Smoother ride quality