By: Jag Dhatt
When Chevy announced the return of the Blazer, there was speculation whether it might be like the old Blazer – truck based, big, tough, rough. But not so; the new Blazer retains the name, but that’s about all. And for the modern times, it’s probably a good option.
The Blazer fits nicely in Chevy’s lineup between the Equinox and the Traverse. I find it’s a nice size and will be a good option for many buyers, if you can accept the higher price tag, especially when optioned out.
The vehicle I tested was the RS edition, and it’s handsome. The Red Hot paint scheme, complete with high gloss exterior accents, 21-inch black wheels, and a large black grille make this family hauler sporty, and rightfully so. I find the front end to be menacing, especially with the slit-like headlights, very Camaro-like. Other neat features on the RS include the hands-free liftgate, Chevy puddle lights and that floating roof. And if you want to be noticed, this entire set-up will get you noticed.
The dark-schemed cabin, complete with RS red accents, is attractive and lives up to expectations. The turbine vents, borrowed from the Camaro, reflect the sporty theme. I sat in both front and rear seats and found the Blazer to be surprisingly roomy, with ample room for five adults. Seats are comfortable and supportive and passengers won’t mind a long road trip. And as is the case in most modern SUV’s, the rear seats recline for that added comfort. The cargo area is smaller than others in this category; that being said, the lower lift over height and wider space allows for more versatility.
I like the minimalist look of the interior. Chevy has done a good job in keeping the interior simple, without clutter. The infotainment system is very easy to use, and my kids loved the complimentary in-vehicle hotspot. If you have kids and can choose the monthly option, do it. HVAC controls are easy to use; however, some of the buttons could be slightly larger. If you’re wearing gloves during the winter months, you’ll know what I mean.
The Blazer proves to be a very capable Sport Utility Vehicle, with an emphasis on Sport. The base model has a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that puts out 193hp and is available in front-wheel drive only and will be appealing to many buyers. The RS, along with the True North and Premier models have a 3.6L V6 that puts out 305hp and has an impressive AWD system that puts most of the power to the rear wheels; when traction is lost, then power is also sent to the front wheels as needed.
On the road, the Blazer RS is impressive, and not just by the numbers and specs. Even the exhaust note is notable. No, it doesn’t sound like the Durango SRT, but is still pretty good for a V6 family hauler. The entire package of engine, transmission and all-wheel drive work just like you’d expect them to.
Off the line, the Blazer RS can get from 0 – 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds. I would choose the V6 over the four-cylinder; the acceleration is silky smooth and the nine-speed transmission is quick. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting the engine and transmission to be so good, but they are. Passing on the highway is breeze, even with all seats occupied by adults.
Around town, the Blazer is nimble, the size being perfect for just about everything. On the highway too, this Chevy is agile, taking corners with precision, thanks to its responsive and accurate steering. There’s little body roll when going around bends and turns. And whether you’re driving on smooth pavement or rough roads, the chassis and suspension are so well engineered that the Blazer remains comfortable.
In all honesty, the Blazer RS was a complete blast to drive – it did everything you’d expect and then some. The Blazer also has remote engine start and during the cold days we’re getting now, it’s a great feature.
So now, what about the shortcomings? For starters, Chevy decided that for the 2019 Blazer, the auto start/stop feature cannot be turned off. Yes, it’s for better fuel economy, but I’d rather make that choice myself – the good news is that there will be an option to turn this feature off for the 2020 model year. Second, some of the interior parts, like the shifter, look cheap. For the RS trim, I’d expect it to be a little better. Finally, the biggest shortcoming could be the sticker price, especially if you’re considering the higher trims. The RS that I tested came in at just under $50K, which is knocking on the door of competitors like the Stelvio, BMW X3 or even the Mercedes GLC. Granted these competitors would be for the entry trims, but some buyers may be swayed.
The Blazer name may bring back memories of a rough and tough truck, but the 2019 Blazer is nothing of the sort. What you get here is a fantastic SUV that is stylish, well-engineered and provides a fantastic ride. The 2019 Blazer starts at $35, 100.