Chevy revives an old nameplate for an all new vehicle in its latest iteration of the Blazer. All new for 2019, the Blazer is a 5-passenger midsize crossover that's available with either a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. Sharing components and engines with the GMC Acadia, Blazer slots into the bow-tie-brand's crossover lineup between the compact Equinox and three-row Traverse. Competitors include the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Murano and Subaru Forester.
Blazer is available in four trim levels: L, LT, RS and Premier. Standard engine is a 193-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cyinder. Also available is a 308-hosrepower 3.6-liter V6. Both engines mate to a 9-speed automatic with manual shift modes. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions are offered. Towing capacity is with the 4-cylinder is 1500 pounds. When ordered with the available V6 towing jumps to 4500 pounds.
The L trim includes 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-inch touch screen, Apple Car Play and Android Auto support and four USB ports. Within the LT trim are the 2.5L Cloth, 3.6L Cloth and 3.6L Leather, each adding additional equipment. The RS has 20-inch wheels, blacked-out grille and trim, dual exhaust tips, upgraded driver-information display and 120-volt power outlet. Premier adds to the RS chrome trim accents, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and 8-speaker Bose audio system. Prices start at low as $28,800 and climb to $43,895.
From an acceleration standpoint, Blazer is a story of two engines. The base 2.5-liter four provides mediocre acceleration. When pressed, it can push the 4000-pound crossover from 0 to 60 MPH in about 8.5 seconds, which on paper isn't too shabby. However, add a passenger or two or some cargo and things slow down quickly. In addition, the 9-speed automatic is constantly shifting as it tries to deliver respectable fuel economy.
Opt for the available 3.6-liter V6 and Blazer adopts a more authoritative personality. Still a bit sleepy off the line, the engine quickly comes to life and will race the Blazer from 0 to 60 MPH in about 6 seconds, likely the fastest, non-sport-tuned midsize crossover around. Plus, the engine calms the transmission's shift-happy personality quite a bit. Unfortunately, the engine brings with it some torque steer on front-drive models, especially when traction is at a premium.
Speaking of traction, the Blazer's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for heavy off-road use. Think of it as an all-weather insurance policy rather than a ticket deep into the woods.
EPA numbers for the all-wheel-drive V6 are 18 MPG city and 25 MPG highway -- smack in the middle of the competition. Opting for the 4-cylinder saves about 4 MPG city and 2 MPG highway, so that's something in the base engine's favor. In routine suburban commuting expect to average about 22 MPG with the V6, perhaps as high as 27 MPG highway. Like most vehicles in the class, both engines run fine on regular-grade fuel.
Regardless of trim, Blazer offers crisp handling. The suspension provides a firm and planted ride that's not common amongst midsize crossovers. There's enough bump absorption to soften hard impacts, but you'll feel them more in Blazer than you might is something like a Subaru Forester or Hyundai Santa Fe. Body motions are nicely kept in check and there's a noticeable absence of head toss when traversing bumpy roads. Kudos to Chevy for imbuing the Blazer with a bit of character and composure. Obviously, those looking for the most athletic feel should consider the RS with its 20-inch wheels.
The steering has a heavy or firm feel, but it's quick and responsive once up to speed. Highway tracking is good, with nice straight-line stability. As mentioned, torque steer can be a problem with front-drive models and a larger-than-average turning radius can make Blazer difficult to park in tight spaces. Brakes have plenty of stopping power, but the pedal gets touchy as you come to a stop. Body roll is nicely tamed in quick, transient maneuvers.
Around town, Blazer drives along quietly enough. However, out on the highway, there's some wind noise around the windshield pillars or side mirrors that can grow annoying. Neither engine is particularly loud, but the V6 sounds much better in hard acceleration and has a pleasant exhaust note to boot.
Inside, Blazer sports an interior that's innovative and functional. No, Chevrolet didn't reinvent the wheel here, but they did add a few spokes and wrap it up in a nice and contemporary-looking package. Materials are price appropriate, for the most part, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces throughout. There are a few glaring cost-cutting moves below the beltline inside -- most notably the door kick panels and glovebox door.
Drivers face a trio of analog-looking gauges. However, the center gauge is part of a digital instrumentation cluster that's programmable. The overall appearance is quite modern and crisp. Most importantly, the gauges are easy to read, day or night. The center stack houses a large touch-screen for the infotainment system and actual buttons for and knobs for the audio controls. Below that are smallish climate control buttons arranged in a row. One innovative feature are temperature dials that double as air vents. The steering wheel is adorned with plenty of buttons, but the best feature are volume toggles behind the right side that allow you to raise and lower the radio volume without looking down.
The front seats are extremely comfortable and well padded. With plenty of adjustments and a tilt-telescope steering wheel, it's easy for the driver to get comfortable. Head room is good, but leg room is just adequate and taller drivers will wish that the front seat scooted further back. The back seats are as comfortable as the fronts, but again, room is a problem. Not leg room this time, but head room as taller folk will have to scoot their heads to the side.
Getting in and out is easy thanks to wide opening doors, large openings and a modest step in. Visibility can be a problem as the thick rear pillars and smallish rear window obscure the view aft. Good thing blind-spot monitor is standard.
Speaking of tech, the Blazer comes well equipped with the latest electronic wizardry. Staring with the infotainment system that's very easy to operate and doesn't require a trip through the owner's manual to operate. Segmenting the bulk of the climate controls to traditional buttons and knobs helps quite a bit, as well. Android Auto and Apple Car play are supported and all of the key safety features are available, though not standard until you step up in trim. The only thing not offered is a head-up display.
Because of the sloping roofline and tailgate, cargo capacity is just average. Max space is just 64 cubic feet. With the rear seats up, there's enough room for a weekend's worth of stuff and no more. There is no in-floor storage, but the available cargo management divider is a nice touch. Interior storage is just average with a few open and covered bins throughout. Map pockets are smallish, but the glove box and center console are quite large.
Bottom Line -- Forget everything you knew about the old Blazer (if you even remember it). The new Chevrolet Blazer is a competent and fun-to-drive midsize crossover offering. Strengths include a powerful V6 engine, athletic moves and enough utility to be competitive. On face value, prices can seem steep, but remember, dealers will be willing to discount and the manufacturer is offering incentives to lure buyers to this all-new vehicle. The midsize crossover segment is awash in competition, so use that to your advantage when shopping.