Chevy brings back the Blazer!
By Christopher A. Randazzo
Despite being out of production for more than a decade, the Chevrolet Blazer is a name well-known in the SUV market. We last saw the Blazer back in 2005, when it was based off of the Chevy S-10 pickup, but many remember the Blazer as a full-size sport-utility vehicle from 1969 (and being replaced by the Chevrolet Tahoe in 1995).
This year Chevrolet has brought the Blazer back. If you’re hoping for it to be similar to the original full-size Blazer or maybe even an SUV based off the Chevy Colorado, well, you’re gonna be let down. The new Blazer is neither. But that’s not to say you won’t like it. This new Blazer is very different, but in a good way.
The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is a mid-size, two-row CUV slotted between the smaller Equinox and the larger Traverse. Designed with the Chevrolet Camaro in mind, the Blazer takes styling cues from its sporty family member, especially in the front grille area. Overall, the Blazer demonstrates a muscle car attitude – which is a warm welcome in a class dominated by uninspiring designs.
As you may have already guessed, the Blazer is better suited for on-road use, rather than off-road. It’s powerplant drives the front wheels, but all-wheel drive is available (and standard on some trim levels). Trim levels offered are the base L, the nicely equipped LT – which is further broken down to the 1LT, 2LT and 3LT, the sporty RS and the top-of-the-line Premier.
Three different powertrains are available in the Blazer, the trim level being the determining factor. The L and 1LT get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (193 horsepower, 188 lb-ft of torque). Going with the 2LT or 3LT gets you a new engine for 2020 – a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (230 hp, 258 lb-ft). Finally, the RS and Premier are fitted with a 3.6-liter V6 (308 hp, 270 lb-ft). A nine-speed automatic transmission is the sole transmission. All-wheel drive is standard with V6 Blazers and optional on Blazers with the new turbo motor.
The Camaro inspired exterior carries over inside the Blazer as well. The dash, center console and huge round vents remind me of the last Camaro I was in. Visually, the cabin is quite striking with a two-tone color scheme. The instrument cluster uses a combination of both analog and digital gauges which blends nicely together. An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on every Blazer as are a pair of USB ports up front as well as for back seat passengers. Features available include heated and vented front seats, heated rear seats, ambient lighting and a rear-view camera mirror, just to name a few.
The Blazer that Chevrolet provided for this story was a 2020 RS model which includes the V6 engine and all-wheel drive. I must admit, I was expecting another run-of-the-mill CUV as I was about to embark on my first drive in the new Blazer. Boy was I wrong.
The first thing I noticed was the steering. It’s slightly heavy, but I quickly learned it pays back by feeling very precise and fluid, and along with the RS’s sport suspension and 20″ wheels, results in a very engaging drive.
The V6 delivers impressive acceleration and provides added confidence to the overall driving experience. Tests show the Blazer RS is capable of going from zero to 60 mph in the low 6 second range. I recall some Camaros of past eras that could only dream of being that quick.
Let’s not forget that the Blazer is a utility vehicle, and for those wanting to put it to work, it should suffice. All-wheel-drive versions can tow up to 4500 pounds while front-drive models can tow up to 1500 pounds. There is room for 31 cubic feet of cargo behind the back seat – that increases to 64 by folding the rear seats.
The Blazer is easily the best-driving crossover in the Chevrolet lineup – and may even be the best in its class, where it finds itself competing with the likes of the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano. And while it’s not the Blazer of old, this new Blazer may just be the Camaro of crossovers – and that may just be the best compliment of all.
By The Numbers:
2020 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD
Base Price: $43,500.00
Price as Tested: $49,395.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Horsepower: 308 hp
Torque: 270 lb/ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 city / 25 highway mpg
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