Chevy brings back a different kind of Blazer

By Jim Prueter

(August 16, 2019) For 2019, Chevrolet has brought back the Blazer nameplate, affixing it to an all-new, two-row, five-passenger crossover utility vehicle targeting Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It shares a platform with the three-row GMC Acadia and the compact Cadillac XT5. The Blazer slots between the smaller Equinox and the larger three-row Traverse.

The Blazer is slickly styled with its bulging hood strakes, sliver-thin LED headlamps and massive split cowcatcher grille. The side profile is replete with sweeping curves, resulting in an upswept beltline that eventually leads to a floating roof look at the rear of the vehicle. Our up-market RS trim level came shod with 21-inch gloss black wheels and tires that are part of the $2,495 optional Sun and Wheels package that also includes a power tilt-sliding panoramic sunroof. The overall exterior styling looks youthful, aggressive.

The interior is said to be inspired by the epochal Chevy Camaro and looks trendy, contemporary, and pleasing. What immediately grabs your eye are the prominent metallic red-trimmed Camaro-inspired vents for the climate-control system.

The two center vents sit low on the instrument panel, nearly even with the bottom of the steering wheel and blow more air on the front passengers’ knees than on the body. They’re also functional with the outer ring of the vent serving as the temperature adjustment with a twist of the ring in either direction.

The perforated leather seats are properly comfortable, supportive with heated seats both up front and in back, but ventilated only in the front. They were nice looking with contrasting red stitching to go with the black leather trim. Our RS included a power tilt and telescoping steering column and a heated steering wheel.

While the rear seats do slide fore-aft and recline, they are nothing special — flat with little support or bolstering — making longer rides a fatiguing affair.

For a two-row midsize crossover, the Blazer doesn’t offer much in the way of cargo space and its 30.5-cubic-foot hold is one of the smallest in its class. Folding the second row flat expands cargo space to 64.2 cubic-feet. But consider that we recently drove the compact Kia Soul hatchback whose cargo space was 24.2 cubic feet and 62.1 with the seats folded. However, we did like the cargo management system that came with our RS and included a cargo fence and a floor-mounted rail system, which makes loading things like golf clubs, sporting equipment, luggage and bags of groceries more convenient.

While attractively styled there’s little that’s soft touch other than the door armrests and center console armrest. There’s some padding on the front of the dashboard and door-trim inserts, but otherwise the rest is hard black/gray plastic. There’s an overabundance of hard, economy looking glossy piano black trim, including the center console and door trim.

Technology includes an eight-inch touch screen and Chevy’s Infotainment 3 interface with Bluetooth audio streaming Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, in-vehicle apps and personalization capability. There’s also 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, four standard USB ports, and wireless charging for enabled smartphones. Overall, we liked the system, finding it intuitive and easy to use.

A 308-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive powered our RS. Acceleration felt ordinary and at times laborious with a loud, groaning engine when called upon for highway passing.

Handling felt controlled and confident with little noticeable body lean in corners. It didn’t feel as sporty as a recently tested Ford Edge, but certainly better than either the Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Murano.

We were also disappointed in our overall fuel economy, with just 19 mpg in our weeklong testing on a mix of urban, suburban and rural roads. Start-stop technology is part of the package to improve fuel economy, but the system cannot be deactivated like in most competitor vehicles.

Overall, the new Blazer fails to excite, impress or engage the driver. We do give the Blazer kudos for its design and good looks but there is just too much cost cutting with materials and features in the cabin to make you feel like you are driving something special. Sure, there are high-end trims with the RS and Premier offerings, but we don’t think they they’re refined enough or offer the special extras to justify the steep price. For the cost of these trim levels we think you’d be better off with the Cadillac XT5.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $43,500
Price as Tested: $50,765
Engine: 3.6-liter 308-hp V-6 paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 18-mpg City – 25-mpg Highway – 21-mpg Combined
Seating: 5

Where Built: Mexico

Crash Test Ratings: Highest possible 5-star rating from the NHTSA

Competes With:
Ford Edge
Honda Passport
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Nissan Murano

Fab Features
Responsive, easy to use infotainment system
Attractive exterior styling