Chevrolet Blazer — Old name, new style

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Blazer is a storied name in Chevrolet history going back to 1969 when it entered the scene as a full-sized two-door SUV with a removable top. It was later renamed the Tahoe. The S-10 Blazer was introduced in 1983 based on the compact body-on-frame Chevrolet S10 pickup truck. It became a larger model in 2001 renamed the TrailBlazer before being discontinued in 2009.

Chevrolet has revived the name for 2019. The all-new mid-sized crossover SUV slots between the bigger three-row Traverse and the smaller Equinox. Despite its off-road truck heritage, the all-new SUV features style over ruggedness, an on-road unibody family vehicle rather than an off-road adventure truck. But like most crossovers, the Blazer can be purchased with all-wheel drive and it has adequate towing capacity for weekend toys rated at 4,500 pounds when outfitted with the 3.6-liter V-6 making 308 horsepower.

The new entry adopts a more aggressive look than its two siblings, with a prominent dual Chevy grille including squinty-eyed headlights high up on the fenders. Likewise, the taillights sit up high on the rear haunches giving the rear end a thick, chunky, rugged look. The Blazer has a modern guise that might turn some people off, but to us it works just fine.

Inside, the Blazer adopts the Chevrolet Camaro's cabin look with its most unusual feature the huge center air vents with air flow regulated by large wheels around the vents. The Blazer offers generous legroom for rear-seat passengers as well as 30.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats.

In fact, we put the Blazer to an unusual test and we think we're probably the first to haul a full-sized grandfather clock behind the front seats. Careful measurement ahead of loading indicated that with the front passenger seat about half way up on its rails, we would have about two inches to spare. We nailed it and off we went on a 45-mile hike to transport the clock to a new home.

We had to do a little reconfiguring before loading the clock because of Chevrolet's new Cargo Management System, which is standard on the RS and Premier. We had to remove the cargo fence that is designed to help secure smaller items by dividing the cargo area.

The Blazer comes in four trim levels — L, LT, RS and Premier. The LT has three sub-trims — 1LT, 2LT and 3LT — offering increasing amounts of standard equipment. The base L starts at $29,995 including a $1,195 destination charge. The L can only be purchased with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque, and all-wheel drive is not available. We don't recommend the four-banger although it should be adequate for car shoppers on a budget. Other than a price advantage, the base engine achieves a scant two more miles to the gallon overall than the V-6.

We drove the V-6 with AWD mated to a nine-speed automatic in a top-of-the-line Premier trim and found it offers a rewarding driving experience with a 0-to-60 time of 6.3 seconds. While we found passing and merging effortless, we also were pleased with the crossover's handling traits due in part to the torque-vectoring system in the RS and Premier trims that apportion torque side to side to each individual wheel. It gives the Blazer the feeling of agility in the corners. And at highway speeds, the Blazer is agreeably quiet.

The interior is handsome with easy-to-use switchgear, and while there is a lot of hard plastic in the interior, we found it inoffensive. Standard equipment includes GM's Infotainment 3 system, which uses large icons to access various features and responds quickly to inputs; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity; dual climate control; four USB ports including one very attainable in the center console; a nice-sounding six-speaker base audio system with satellite radio availability; and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Our Premier AWD test vehicle came with such goodies as a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, an eight-speaker Bose audio sound system and driver seat memory carrying a base price of $46,795. But even at that price such features as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, roof rack rails, and cargo net have to be ordered as options. Even adding all-wheel drive runs between $2,700 and $2,900 depending on trim level, about double what it is on many nameplates. The only option on our test vehicle was the $2,495 Sun and Wheels Package, which added a panoramic sunroof and 21-inch wheels bringing the bottom line to $49,290.

Base price, $29,995; as driven, $49,290
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6
Horsepower: 308 @ 6,700 rpm
Torque: 270 foot-pounds @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 112.7 inches
Length: 191.4 inches
Curb weight: 4,253 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Luggage capacity: 30.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 64.2 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 4,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 21.7 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 18 city, 25 highway, 21 combined
0-60: 6.3 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Honda Passport

The Good
• Strong V-6 engine
• Responsive handling
• Many desirable features available

The Bad
• AWD can't be paired with base engine

The Ugly
• Desirable options expensive