Chevy Revives the Legendary Mini-SUV
IT’S HARD TO THINK OF A MORE ICONIC SUV NAMEPLATE THAN THE BLAZER. Whether your taste runs to the original K5 that owned the full-size two-door SUV market from 1969 to 1991 or the compact S-10 Blazer that was made in various forms from 1983 to 2005, the Blazer played a key role in Chevy’s truck lineup for 36 years.
Now the Blazer name is back with an all-new design that hits a market segment that’s been missing from Chevy’s lineup until now. As a mid-size, two-row, five-passenger SUV, the Blazer is set to compete head-to-head with the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano. That’s easy enough, but the new Blazer also has to take on the undisputed market leader: the Jeep Grand Cherokee. That’s not something you can do by slapping a trim package on the same old family SUV.
The 2019 Blazer marks new territory for Chevrolet, and it might be a look at future designs across the board. The Blazer shows off new body styling, provocative sculptured cut-lines and a new level of interior comfort at the high end. The Blazer gets a big in-yourface grille with LED daytime running lights and a short wide stance that recalls the original K5 design. If you want a seriously badass presence, the blackout trim and wheels on the Blazer RS sport model look the part.
Under the Blazer’s hood lies Chevy’s 3.6-liter V-6, naturally aspirated and direct-injected to produce 308 honest horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque. Yes, the base trims come with a four-cylinder, but we didn’t drive that one and you probably aren’t going to buy it.
WITH ITS NEW LOOK AND EVERYDAY UTILITY, CHEVY’S GOT A PLAYER THAT CAN GO HEAD TO HEAD WITH FORD, NISSAN AND EVEN JEEP.
The V-6 is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission with the buyer’s choice of front-wheel or either of two all-wheel-drive systems. The base Blazer V-6 gets a simple AWD system that can disconnect the rear axle to save fuel, but the top RS and Premier trims get a twin-clutch rear axle that can send torque to either or both rear wheels as needed. Not only does this system work better on ice and snow, but it also adds torque vectoring capability for dry pavement handling.
All Blazers include a set of appropriate drive modes that optimize the transmission and stability control systems for regular touring, snow and ice, sport driving, and tow/haul mode if the Blazer is equipped with a tow package. Properly equipped, the new Blazer can tow up to 4,500 pounds.
The low-end Blazers get a basic cloth interior, but they also get the same 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as the top models. The Chevy system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so everyone gets navigation and data services.
Top trims get leather, and if you option up to the Blazer RS or Premier, you’ll get heated and ventilated front seats, and heat in the outboard rear seats as well. That same option pack also adds high-end features like adaptive cruise control, 360-degree surround camera with a trailer hitch view, wireless charging and a camera rear view mirror.
The biggest difference in trims is between the RS and Premier. The RS gets perforated black leather sport seats with red accent stitching and red highlights around the cabin, while the Premier gets a more traditional soft leather luxury treatment. Personally, we found the sport seats in the RS to be a little too hard for everyday use, but the Premier trim was just right.
ON THE ROAD
The new Blazer includes active noise cancellation, so the cabin is whisper quiet, which is nice if you got the optional Bose audio system. The five-link rear suspension works to keep the Blazer flat and planted in corners. Even the cushy Premier trim handles crisply around corners and curves.
Engine power is good enough for everyday use, but we found ourselves wanting a little more when it came time to pass a big truck. The V-6 AWD Blazer tips the scales at 4,287 pounds, so that takes a bite out of performance.
For practical purposes, the Blazer provides 64.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front sets, and 30.5 cubes behind the second row. There’s also a little extra space underneath the floor at the back, which is nice for stuff you want to keep hidden.
THE STREET TRUCKS HOT TAKE
The new Blazer isn’t much like an S-10 Blazer, and even less like an original K5. Both those rigs had a real hi-lo 4X4 system, and they were body-on-frame trucks. But at the same time, the new Blazer fits today’s market, where technology and comfort are the name of the game if you want to sell SUVs. With its new look and everyday utility, Chevy’s got a player that can go head to head with Ford, Nissan and even Jeep.
2019 CHEVROLET BLAZER
- Base Price: $29,995
- As-Tested: $50,765 (RS AWD)
- Engine: 3.6-liter V-6 (308 hp/270 tq)
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic, AWD
- MPG: 18/25
- Curb weight: 4,287 pounds