2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD: Blazing a new trail?
Price: $50,765 as tested. $43,500 for the RS. $2,495 sunroof and 21-inch wheels. More options noted below.
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend calls it “the Camaro of Crossovers.”
Marketer’s pitch: “The all-new Blazer.” Simple, direct.
Reality: Definitely lives up to the pitch.
Nervous: I’ve been in enough incarnations of the Equinox to make me more than a little wary of a new small crossover from General Motors.
But, readers, it ain’t one of those.
What’s new: The whole thing. The old Blazer nameplate, retired since 2005, comes back to life in this small crossover.
At first, I thought it looked just like a Nissan Rogue, but, nope, they’re not cousins; Chevy just knows where to look for design inspiration.
Up to speed: The 3.6-liter V-6 engine creates 308 horsepower. It motivates the Blazer nicely — 6.1 seconds to 60 mph, according to Motor Trend. A 193-horsepower 2.5-liter four is also available.
On the road: The Blazer runs in front-wheel drive in normal mode and the handling there can be a little wobbly, like most vehicles that size.
But I ran all-wheel drive through a bunch of rainy days and sport mode (which also uses all four wheels) and found the handling to be much nicer. Sport mode definitely improves the acceleration and gives the steering a taut feel, and four-wheel drive felt confident.
Winding roads are not bad, no worse than similar vehicles, but definitely tops among Chevrolets and Buicks I’ve had recently.
Shifty: The 9-speed automatic is one of the most unobtrusive transmissions I’ve enjoyed in the last few years of testing. Shift capability is only via the button on the side of the shifter, so racer wannabes won’t love that.
Driver’s Seat: I had just finished up a wonderful week in the AMG A53, which was a delightful car but with the World’s Hardest Driver’s Seat. As soon as I hopped in the Blazer, my back went “Ahh.” The seat has good support and a nice amount of padding.
The only problem was where the seat bottom meets the seat back. It seemed noticeably narrow. I did some measurements and found it to be more in line with the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat’s Kia Soul seat than our beefy Toyota Sienna.
Friends and stuff: The backseat offers comfort and plenty of room, even for long Sturgis Kid 4.0. Headroom, legroom, and foot room are all good. (Those rear seats are also heated, which may have swayed his vote.) Middle-seat passengers will be chilly, but also a little scrunched by the front console and perched high.
The seats are heated as part of a $3,575 package, which also includes the rear camera mirror, Bose stereo, and many safety features.
Cargo space is 64.2 cubic feet with the seats down.
Play some tunes: I’ve said some unkind things about recent GM stereo controls and dashboards, but the Blazer has overcome all of that. It has a real Cadillac look and feel.
The stereo disappointingly still has a volume knob with buttons for station changes — a second dial would work wonders. But control is simple. Sound is awesome from the Bose system, an A-.
The view behind: The Blazer tested came with a rear camera mirror projected into the rearview mirror. This Cadillac-inspired technology eliminates the need for peering through passenger heads and tiny rear windows. It’s especially beneficial because the Blazer does, in fact, feature a tiny rear window and side windows that make lane changes difficult.
Keeping warm and cool: The heating and cooling controls follow the recent Cadillac changes — a row of buttons controls seat heating and cooling, where the air comes from, and more. The fan buttons are kind of small and fussy, but they activate lights, which make everything easy to follow (and the touchscreen also shows information during changes as well).
The round vents are delightful, and Mr. Driver’s Seat enjoys the temperature dials on the vent rim. But my large paws might be more compatible than many people’s.
Night shift: The low beams shine disappointingly low and make seeing a little more difficult than it should be. The interior lights were just right, though.
Fuel economy: I averaged a disappointing 20 mpg in a typical week of testing. Feed the Blazer whatever.
Where it’s built: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts its reliability will be a 2 out of 5.