G. Chambers Williams

Chevrolet revives the Blazer brand for a new five-passenger crossover

Now on sale at Chevrolet dealers nationwide is the all-new five-passenger midsize Blazer crossover utility vehicle, which brings back an iconic Chevy nameplate that hasn’t been seen since 2005.

The 2019 Blazer comes in six different models, beginning with the entry-level L version, starting at $28,800 (plus $1,195 freight) with front-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and ranging up to the 3.6-liter V-6 powered Premier, $42,700 with front drive or $45,600 with all-wheel drive.

In between are the Blazer 2.5 Cloth ($32,300, front drive only); Blazer 3.6 Cloth ($33,300, front drive only); Blazer 3.6 Leather ($36,500, front drive; $40,200, AWD); and the sporty RS ($40,600, 3.6-liter, front drive; $43,500, 3.6-liter, AWD).

The new Blazer is different from Ford’s Bronco revival for 2020, as that vehicle will be more of an off-road-capable SUV like its original, while the Blazer is a family crossover similar to the midsize, five-passenger Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

For about 30 years, the Bronco and Chevy K5 Blazer – both built on the chassis of their full-size pickup counterparts, the F-series and Silverado – were in head-to-head competition. There was also a smaller version of the Blazer, designated S10 instead of K5, to reflect that it was built on the chassis of Chevy’s S10 compact pickup. That vehicle was essentially replaced in the Chevrolet lineup by the TrailBlazer, introduced in 2002 and discontinued after 2009.

The bigger K5 Blazer morphed into the Chevrolet Tahoe, which remains one of the staples of the Chevy truck/SUV lineup.

This newest Blazer is slotted between the full-size Chevy Traverse three-row crossover and the compact five-passenger Equinox, which is about the same size as the early 2000s S10 Blazer SUV. There is also a subcompact crossover in the Chevy lineup, the Trax.

Chevrolet has never had a crossover in the midsize class, as the Traverse, introduced for 2009, has been marketed as a large crossover. The Blazer correspond in size and mission with the Edge, Grand Cherokee and other midsize five-passenger crossovers, while the larger Ford Explorer has a third-row seat and competes with the Traverse. Ford’s Escape is a compact that goes up against the Equinox, and the new Ford EcoSport is the counterpart to the Trax.

The base engine is a normally aspirated 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder with 193 horsepower and 188 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. EPA ratings are 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined.

Our Premier all-wheel-drive tester came with the 3.6-liter V-6, which is like the one used in the Chevrolet Camaro and several other Chevy models. In the Blazer, it produces 308 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque. It also comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

EPA ratings for the V-6 are 20 city/26 highway/22 combined (front drive) and 18/25/21 (AWD). We averaged 19.3 mpg with our AWD V-6 Premier model.

An advanced twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system is used on RS and Premier trims. As with most crossovers, the Blazer’s all-wheel drive does not have low-range gearing for serious trail use. It does have driver-selectable settings for 2WD, automatic AWD, and various terrains.

The six-cylinder Blazers with all-wheel drive are capable of towing trailers weighing up to 4,500 pounds; the front-drive V-6 models and the 2.5-liter models are limited to 1,500 pounds.

There is 30.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and 64.2 cubic feet with the second-row seatback folded flat. The second-row seat can slide fore and aft to increase leg and knee room or boost cargo space behind it. Also is a cargo-management system with rails and a cargo fence.

A dual-pane panoramic-view sunroof is available in the Sun and Wheels Package ($2,495), and was included on our tester. It also brought 21-inch pearl-nickel aluminum wheels and all-season blackwall tires, replacing the Premier model’s standard 20-inch alloy wheels. Standard on lower-priced models are 18-inch wheels.

The RS and Premier models each has unique styling cues, including different grilles, bright chrome exterior trim on the Premier, and a blacked-out look for the RS.

At the front is a bold grille and hood lines, low-placed HID headlights, and LED daytime running lamps. At the rear are LED Chevy-signature dual-element taillights, dual exhaust outlets and an integrated tailgate spoiler.

Aluminum wheels come in sizes from 18 to 21 inches.

Inside, the Blazer has a variety of color and trim choices. That includes a padded knee area, round air vents and grab handles on the doors. Our Premier came with the Jet Black/Maple Sugar perforated-leather seats.

Our vehicle’s exterior was black with chrome door handles and trim. Other exterior color choices are Sunlit Bronze Metallic, Nightfall Gray Metallic, Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Graphite Metallic, Oakwood Metallic and the premium Cajun Red Tintcoat ($495 extra).

The new Blazer has up-to-date connectivity options, intuitive controls and a long list of standard and available safety and convenience features. Six USB ports are included, and wireless phone charging is available.

There is an eight-inch color touch screen featuring Chevrolet Infotainment 3, along with 4G LTE Wi-Fi (with one-month/3gb data trial), along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Among other features are an electronic-locking glovebox large enough for a small handbag. It is locked using the vehicle’s Valet Mode, accessible through the Settings menu. A button on the dash opens the glovebox.

Included on our Premier model were a heated steering wheel and heated/ventilated front seats, which can be operated from outside the vehicle with the Remote Start feature. Heated outboard rear seating positions are offered.

The new comfort-open feature, activated by the remote, rolls all the windows down to help dissipate heat from the cabin before anybody gets in.

Adaptive Cruise Control and a Rear Camera Mirror system are available on RS and Premier, while a hands-free power liftgate with Chevy logo projection is standard on RS and Premier.

Both engines have intelligent stop/start to help maximize fuel economy in traffic.

Also standard on all models is Traction Select, which allows for adjustments to the vehicle’s driving mode for varying road conditions. On AWD models, it can completely disconnect the rear axle so the vehicle operates only in front-wheel drive mode when the extra traction is not needed at the rear wheels.

The front bucket seats on our Premier model were quite comfortable, and included power adjustments. The rear seat has ample leg and knee room even with larger people in the front seats. Three adults can sit relatively comfortably in the rear seat, although it’s better with two adults in the outboard positions, of course.

We had plenty of power with the V-6 engine, even on some mountainous country roads. We haven’t tested the four-cylinder Blazer yet. Shifting of the automatic gearbox was smooth and predictable.

The Blazer’s cabin was surprisingly quiet even at highway speeds, with little wind noise. The ride was mostly smooth, although winter potholes could make it a bit rough.

We used the all-wheel drive for some limited off-road driving in a national forest, but of course nothing rough or tough, as the Blazer is not really designed for that. Even so, it performed well on dirt and gravel roads, and there was enough ground clearance for minor obstacles.

Total sticker price for our Blazer Premier model with all-wheel drive and the Sun and Wheels package was $49,290, including freight.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

The package: Midsize, five-passenger, five-door, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: All new for 2019, this is the revival of Chevrolet’s Blazer nameplate, this time on a midsize, five-passenger crossover utility vehicle. It has a choice of a four-cylinder engine or a more-powerful V-6. It has lots of standard and optional amenities, and available all-wheel drive with the V-6 engine.

Negatives: No third-row seat option.

Engine: 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder; 3.6-liter V-6, gasoline, normally aspirated.

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 193 HP./188 foot-pounds (I-4); 308 HP./270 foot-pounds (V-6).

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Length: 191.4 inches.

Base curb weight: 3,810-4,246 pounds.

Cargo volume: 30.5 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 64.2 cubic feet (rear seat folded).

Towing capacity: 1,500 pounds (I-4; V-6 2WD); 4,500 pounds (V-6, AWD, with towing package).

EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined (I-4, 2WD); 20/26/22 (V-6. 2WD); 18/25/21 (V-6, AWD).

Fuel capacity/type: 19.4 gallons (2WD), 21.7 gallons (AWD), regular unleaded.

Base price range: $28,800-$43,500, plus $1,195 freight.

Price as tested: $49,290, including freight and options (Premier AWD).

Major competitors: Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus RX.

On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

  Comments