By Eric Peters- Whether you like the reincarnated Chevy Blazer may depend on whether you expect it to be like the original Chevy Blazer — which was a rugged (and spartan) 4-by-4 with a removable top and a roll bar. Just the ticket for crabbing up backwoods fire roads and rooster-tailing sand at the beach.
The new Blazer is nothing like that.
It’s actually a lot like the current Camaro — with more doors and better seats.
Which you may actually like a lot.
What It Is
The Blazer name returns — affixed to a mid-sized crossover SUV with a roof and four doors (instead of two doors, like the original) that seats five. The floorboards aren’t metal, and you cool off by turning up the AC instead of rolling down the windows.
It fills the gap in Chevy’s lineup between the compact-sized Equinox and the full-sized Traverse.
Prices start at $28,800 for the base L trim, which is the only trim not available with all-wheel-drive or the option to swap out the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for a much stronger 3.6 liter V6.
Next up is an LT trim, which comes with either the standard 2.5-liter engine or the optional 3.6-liter V6.
AWD is also available — but only if you buy the V6, too.
Blazers equipped with the 2.5-liter engine come in FWD form only, regardless of trim.
There is also a sporty RS trim — which comes standard with the V6 and your option to go FWD or AWD.
A top-of-the-line Blazer Premiere with the V6, AWD, leather trim, 20-inch wheels and a premium Bose audio system stickers for $45,600.
The Blazer is an all-new vehicle.
Standard 2.5-liter engine isn’t turbocharged, so you’ll never have to worry about potentially expensive turbocharger replacement at some point down the road.
V6 is strong — without relying on turbos to make it strong.
Can pull a respectable 4,500 lbs with the V6.
What’s Not So Good
Standard 2.5-liter engine isn’t turbocharged — and so isn’t strong enough to pull more than 1,500 lbs.
V6 is thirsty — 18 MPG in city driving when paired with AWD.
Under the Hood
Crossovers have become very generic-looking, so it’s nice to find something functionally different under the new Blazer’s hood — or rather, to not find it.
Neither the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder (which makes 193 hp) or the optional 3.6-liter V6 (which makes 305) relies on a turbocharger to boost its output. The Blazer’s engines are simpler engines — with fewer parts to potentially wear out or break down over time — which ought to give the Blazer a long-term reliability advantage over turbocharged rivals as well as reduce maintenance/repair costs.
On the Road
The new Blazer is an on-road SUV.
It doesn’t have a two-speed transfer case or 4WD Low range gearing — as the original Blazer did. So it’s not the ticket for scrabbling up rutted unpaved roads.
But its optional AWD system keeps you going when it snows. And its fully independent suspension gives it the car-like handling that has made crossover SUVs far more popular than off-road-adept SUVs ever were.
At the Curb
It’s called Blazer, but it looks more like Camaro — especially the front clip. This was GM’s intention: to conjure the current Camaro’s sportiness as much as the original Blazer’s utility.
There are several ways in which the new Blazer is more useful than the original — beginning with its four doors … and more than two seats. And its 64.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seats, covered and carpeted, with easily a foot more legroom — and headroom — than in the sexy but hugely impractical Camaro, which also does not offer snow-day capability.
All trims, even the base L, come standard with 18-inch wheels — larger wheels than are typically standard in this class. And if you want the largest wheels available in this class, Chevy has you covered. The RS offers a 21-inch wheel/tire package.
The Blazer offers a Teen Driver feature that lets parents program in a maximum speed/radio volume as well as a buckle-up-or-it-won’t-start seatbelt interlock.
Another mention-worthy tech item is the Blazer’s Hitch Guidance/Hitch View system, which helps you hook up (and back up) a trailer without bumping into things.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t need to go off-road — but like the idea of a Camaro that can haul your family and a trailer — then check out the new Blazer!