Chevy’s Sporty Blazer Democratizes the Performance CUV
I have to imagine it wasn’t supposed to be this way. There have been rumblings from inside Chevrolet for years that the automaker was planning a sporty new midsized crossover to compete with the Ford Edge. Inspired by the Chevrolet Camaro, this new crossover was supposed to do for the CUV what the Ford Mustang did for muscle cars—jump-start a new branch of its segment that younger buyers would flock to. I bet you names like “Camaro Cross” were bandied about—new names for a new vision. And then Chevy went ahead and undid all that hard work by naming its CUV the Blazer. That’s too bad, because the surrounding controversy from bringing that beloved nameplate back from the dead has distracted from what the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS is: a shockingly good crossover.
Rather than build a faithful recreation of its classic off-roader to go up against the Jeep Wranglers of the world, the modern-day 2019 Blazer instead aims to democratize the performance crossover—a segment that’s mostly been dominated by German luxury brands—by turning up the heat on vehicles like the Ford Edge.
At first glance, things don’t exactly look promising for the Blazer. Ignoring the racy sheetmetal and a cabin that liberally borrows from the Camaro parts bin, the Blazer rides on the decidedly non-sporty crossover platform and is powered by either a 193-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder with front-drive or, in the case of the RS, GM’s corporate 3.6-liter V-6 paired with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, making 308 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Forgive me for not getting particularly excited about the above specs, but weirdly it all works.
It’s quite apparent from the get-go that the Blazer oozes personality—the exhaust note alone is more pony car than people mover—and the Chevy has the performance to cash the checks its body is writing. The Blazer’s V-6 and nine-speed automatic are the stars of the show. The former has plenty of power and is quick to rev, while the latter is smartly geared and shifts quickly. The Blazer isn’t half bad through corners, either. A rear-drive crossover will likely leave the Chevy in its dust, but for what it is, the Blazer’s steering is responsive and accurate, and its chassis is composed and incredibly difficult to upset, both through bends and on rough pavement.
Test numbers bear that out, too. Our Blazer AWD RS tester accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and runs the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 95.5 mph (153.7 km/h). Its crosstown rival, the Ford Edge ST, sports significantly more horsepower and torque than the Blazer RS (335 hp and 380 lb-ft), but it only barely keeps up, tying the Blazer’s 0–60 and quarter-mile times but actually lagging behind 2.1 mph (3.4 km/h) in trap speed. The 300-pound-heavier (136-kg) Ford does edge (sorry) the Chevy out in braking and handling tests due to its performance-tuned suspension and stickier tires, though; the Blazer’s best 60–0 stop came in at 126 feet, and its best figure eight lap was a respectable 27.1 seconds at 0.65 g average. The Edge ST did the former in 108 feet and the latter in 26.0 seconds at 0.70 g. We’ll have to line the two Detroit pony crossovers up for some back-to-back tests to really figure out who has the upper hand.
Looking beyond the performance, the Blazer is a pretty compelling package so long as you don’t look too closely at the Blazer’s material quality. The Camaro-inspired cabin surprisingly feels quite organic in this CUV, and the Blazer even sports the Camaro’s vent-mounted A/C controls and its downward-facing high-resolution infotainment screen. The Blazer, being a crossover, is decidedly more practical, with actual storage for drinks, phones, and other knickknacks spread through the front of the cabin. Open the 90-degree-opening rear doors, and Chevrolet has taken care of rear passengers, too. They get a flat floor, a rear bench that reclines and slides forward and backward—perfect for babies or pups—heated seats, HVAC vents, and power ports to stay charged up. And although the cargo area is smaller than some other midsize crossovers in its class due to its rakish roofline, the Blazer’s trunk makes good use of the space it’s got with a wide opening and low lift-over height.
Prices for the 2019 Blazer start at $29,995 USD for the base four-cylinder front-wheel-drive model, but a Blazer RS like our tester will cost you a fair bit more than that. V-6-powered Blazer RS AWD models start at $44,695 USD, but our loaded tester would set you back $48,270 USD—just high enough that some smart shoppers might find themselves wandering into Alfa Romeo, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz dealers to check out similarly priced examples of the Stelvio, X3, and GLC.
The Blazer name may be a distraction, but it’s ultimately attached to a surprisingly compelling crossover. It’s doubtful that the 2019 Blazer will ever have the cultural impact the Camaro has had, but regardless, it’s a stylish, relatively sporty crossover with the substance to back up its style.
|2019 Chevrolet Blazer AWD RS|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$48,270|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.6L/308-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,274 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||191.4 x 76.7 x 67.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.1 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.7 sec @ 95.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||126 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.1 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/25/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||187/135 kW-hr/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.94 lb/mile|