Get pros and cons on the Blazer, a 2020 SUV of the Year contender
- Great-looking RS trim
- Impressive packaging
- The Camaro of SUVs
- It’s expensive
- Base models don’t impress
- Lazy AWD engineering
It was pretty hard to ignore the many updates to past SUV of the Year winners this time around. There were six total in the field: the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class (GL, 2013 winner), Range Rover Evoque (2012), Porsche Cayenne (2011), Subaru Outback (2010), Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (from the ML, 1998 Truck of the Year winner), and Chevrolet Blazer (1995 Truck of the Year). Of those, it’s the modern incarnation of the Blazer that has the least in common with its predecessor.
It doesn’t take a trained eye to spot the differences between the new Blazer and the old; the ’95 winner was little more than a Chevy S-10 pickup with a rear hatch—utilitarian and rugged. The new Blazer, at least in sporty RS trim, is among Chevy’s most successful designs of late, equally at home on beaches of California and on the plains of Nebraska. It seamlessly blends Camaro styling cues into the crossover format, providing a sporty-looking alternative to the traditional cookie-cutter SUV box or lozenge.
Although it’s a design-driven exercise, the Blazer doesn’t give up much in utility, either. Once past the well-received Camaro styling cues inside—like the clever rotating HVAC vents and downward-canted infotainment system—the Blazer’s cabin is comfortable and flexible. In back, passengers get a flat floor and reclining rear seats, and when more cargo space is needed, the seats fold flat with the pull of a handle in the cargo area. “Interior packaging is impressive for such a small-looking vehicle,” executive editor Mark Rechtin said. “Did Chevy steal someone from Honda?”
Chevy offers two powertrains on the Blazer: a front-drive-only 2.5-liter I-4 good for 193 hp and a 3.6-liter V-6 making 308 hp and available with front- or all-wheel drive. Both engines are paired with a nine-speed auto. Chevy was only brave enough to send us a Blazer RS—complete with the V-6 and a more advanced all-wheel-drive system—for our testing. Of our staff, only senior production editor Zach Gale had driven a lesser Blazer, and he was not impressed by the non-RS models, which lose many of the (few) interior accoutrements: “Be careful which model you pick; the Blazer’s magic doesn’t extend evenly across the entire line.”
That said, the RS model does at least deliver on the sporty performance its sheetmetal promises. Acceleration is quick for the segment, though some judges wanted more from the engine and transmission. “I know this isn’t technically a Camaro, but there aren’t even paddle shifters or a manual shift mode,” MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina said. “That seems like a huge oversight.”
Chevrolet Blazer vs. Honda Passport: Read the MotorTrend comparison to find out which SUV will come out on top.
Steering is heavy yet direct for a front-drive-based crossover. The Blazer’s chassis and suspension tuning, however, was most impressive; the Blazer manages the difficult task of balancing steering feel with compliant, livable ride quality.
Misses? There are a few. We’re continually disappointed by GM’s insistence on making its all-wheel-drive systems driver-selectable, which is a slimy way to goose its segment-worst 18/25/21 mpg (13.1/9.4/11.2 L/100 km) city/highway/combined EPA rating. Worse, it’s a quick way for customers to find themselves stuck in the snow when the Blazer’s computers don’t warn you to manually shift into all-wheel drive fast enough. It also leads to decidedly un-sporty torque steer if you’re too eager with the throttle.
Our tester’s $50,765 USD as-tested price also gave us pause because although the Blazer makes a good first impression both inside and out, interior quality is lacking. Fit and finish was generally OK, but the cheap switchgear from GM’s junk drawer—including the plastic drive mode knob that literally flexes when you twist it—detract from an otherwise nice cabin.
Still, if you want to be the “cool dad”—features editor Scott Evans’ words—this might be the SUV for you.
|2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD|
|Base Price/As Tested||$44,695/$50,765|
|Power (SAE net)||308 hp @ 6,700 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||270 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||6.1 sec|
|Quarter Mile||14.6 sec @ 95.6 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||117 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||18/25/21 mpg|