I drove a $48,000 Blazer to see if Chevy's revival of the classic SUV lives up to its reputation — here's the verdict

Matthew DeBord/BIStylish!

The Chevy Blazer, like the Ford Bronco, is one of the original SUVs. The Blazer started life as little more than a pickup truck with a shell over its bed and some seats added.

By the time Chevy most recently retired the nameplate in 2005, the crude original had morphed into a modern SUV.

The revived Blazer bears little resemblance to its ancestors. The styling is downright flashy, and plenty of reviewers have noted similarities to the Chevy Camaro muscle car. Honestly, my first reaction to the $US48,075 Blazer from the 2019 model year that Chevy let me borrow for a few days was, “Hmmm … not sure I like all that exterior jazz. Isn’t a Blazer supposed to get dirty and haul around a couple of dogs?”

If you read on, you’ll find out what changed my tune.


So here it is, the 2019 Chevy Blazer, with a “Red Hot” exterior, coming in at just over $US48,000.

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When I first saw the new Blazer in photos, I thought it looked kind of … un-Blazer-ish.

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That’s because when I think Blazer, I think of the earlier versions (the last time a Blazer was sold in the US was 2005). This 1979 Blazer is effectively a 4×4 pickup truck with a topper and some seats.

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The 2019 Chevy Blazer is a crossover SUV that’s meant to evoke some nameplate heritage and give Chevy dealers another vehicle to sell in crossover-mad America.

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I will say that the Blazer’s sort of Lexus-y design grew on me over time. But it’s pretty far from being a rough-and-ready, bare-bones SUV.

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I mean, look at those sleek headlights and that crispy rendered grille with chrome trim. It’s more sports car than SUV, right?

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No four-wheel-drive here, but an all-wheel-drive system that should be able to handle moderately foul weather and the odd snowstorm.

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My tester was the “RS” trim level — that’s why it’s sporting all those cool black exterior elements, such as the blacked-out Chevy bowtie badge.

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The nameplate is also blacked out.

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Let’s slip inside! The “Jet Black” interior is roomy. The front seats are heated and cooled.

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The rear seats are a bench design, but they also provide ample room for adults.

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The Blazer, in the end, is quite spacious. Or at least it creates the illusion of spaciousness.

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A sunroof would have made it seem even roomier, but there wasn’t one on this test vehicle.

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I’m not kidding about the roominess! The Blazer is made for full-size people!

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There are 30 cubic feet of cargo space available once you open the gesture-activated “hands free” power liftgate.

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Drop the rear seats and you have a capacious 64 cubic feet.

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Let’s have a look under the hood at what’s probably the Chevy Blazer’s best feature.

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That’s a 3.6-litre V6 engine, making 305 horsepower. It doesn’t look like much, and the fuel economy isn’t great (18 mpg city/25 highway/21 combined). You can opt for a 193-horsepower four-banger if you’d like better MPGs.

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Across its portfolio, Chevy’s crossovers have a user-friendly, open interior design. What the driver sees is quite straightforward. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated.

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Power is routed to the wheels through a capable nine-speed transmission.

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The infotainment system is Chevy’s superb, responsive IntelliLink. All functions, from navigation to Bluetooth device pairing, are excellent. You have USB/AUX ports and OnStar 4G LTE WiFi connectivity.

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The Blazer also has wireless charging, and my tester was outfitted with a wonderful Bose premium audio system.

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The climate control venti-knobs are sort of weird, but they’re easy to use — and borrowed from the Chevy Camaro!

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So what’s the verdict?

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The good: The Blazer is a crossover that can be driven with gusto and whose V6 motor is old-school sweet.

The bad: The Blazer looks more like a sporty ute than the rugged Blazers of yore.

To be honest, I hated the new Blazer until I got it out on the highway and let the V6 rip. The 0-60 mph dash passed in about six seconds, and I’m a sucker for turbo-free V6 punch when cruising in a straight line or manoeuvring around semis. The power is V8-mellow without the lurches and untapped reserves. I could gather up all the Blazer’s horsepower and put it to use. For what it’s worth, GM has always been good at V6s, so the Blazer with this mill doesn’t disappoint.

The other nice thing about the Blazer is its serious interior roominess and considerable cargo capacity. Throw in Chevy’s state-of-the-art infotainment system and you have a dandy modern crossover.

Of course, if you don’t like the Camaro-derived style, you can comfort yourself with the understanding the Blazer is a fine example of Chevy being Chevy: the vehicle fits appealingly in the slot between the Equinox and the Traverse, adding some flash to the lineup. Chevy has something for everybody in the crossover market.

Now, there’s one thing about the Blazer that should be noted: it would have been a NAFTA vehicle if Trump hadn’t been elected – it’s assembled in Mexico and exported to the US. If you think that should be a knock against the Blazer, don’t. It’s a well-bolted-together piece of machinery and good indication than GM can move production around. US labour might not like that, but the fact is that GM needs to remain profitable to keep employment relatively stable in America (that doesn’t mean layoffs won’t come, just that major cost-cutting won’t be required).

Another strong-selling crossover will help with that objective.

But enough on business. Basically, I liked the Blazer. Would I pay $US48,000 for the RS, when the base is $US29,o00? Probably not. But I’d definitely want the V6 and the Bose Audio system. But you can’t get the audio system without going to the RS trim. A quick cost-out on the Chevy website got me a Blazer for about $US35,000, minus the roughly $US4,000 package than gives the buyer a suite of driver-assist features and the upgraded audio.

That’s the Blazer worth looking at, for my money.

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