2019 Chevrolet Blazer Review: More Tailored Suit, Less Fly-Fishing Vest
Chevrolet’s venerable 4x4 gets revived as a crossover with Camaro-esque styling.
The South Platte River cuts through twisting Rocky Mountain canyons with a muted burble punctuated by the gentle whipping of fly fishing rods on lazy summer days. It’s the kind of place where classic orange and white two-tone Chevy Blazers–equipped with beefy tires and faded parks department passes–still earn their keep today as reliable outdoorsy transport. They ask for little and give back lots in the way of off-road capability and simple durability.
Chevrolet dropped the Blazer from its lineup in 2002, and after a 17-year hiatus, it’s back...and it doesn’t want much to do with its predecessor. The reinvented Blazer is a crossover SUV that’s meant more for adventures of the paved road variety. With its Camaro-inspired design and gutsy V6 engine option, it’s a focused choice.
Chevrolet handed us a 2019 Blazer Premier for a week and, priced at almost $50,000, it’s definitely a business suit—and not a bargain basement one at that. Decked out with big 21-inch wheels wrapped in sporty tires and a business-like interior, the Blazer hustled down a canyon road paved with fresh blacktop. Notably, that price didn’t include driver-assist technology that most competitors now include as standard.
Stretching nearly 16 feet (191.4 inches) between its bumpers, the new Blazer is sized similarly to five-seat competitors such as the Nissan Murano and Ford Edge. It may be a crossover, but it would be as out of place at a dude ranch as Billy Crystal was in City Slickers. If you’re old enough to remember that 1991 flick, the reborn Blazer’s edgy appearance may come as a shock. Its front end channels the Camaro sports car with pinched headlights that flank a tall grille that dives well into the bumper. This new rendition has an immediate presence, one that has nothing in common with any Blazer to have come before.
From the side, the black-painted windshield pillars make its roof appear to float over the passenger compartment, at least until you reach the swept-up intersection of roof and body behind the oversized rear doors. With its high-mounted taillights, the Blazer is more conventional at the rear, at least when compared to other crossovers.
The sport-themed Blazer RS adds additional shiny black exterior garb and upsized 21-inch wheels. The RS package is zippy in looks only, though, as it shares the same V6 engine used in most other versions of the Blazer.
Spacious and tech-heavy inside
The sporty theme continues inside. A crisp, high-mounted 8-in. touchscreen serves as the primary audio and navigation interface. Chevrolet’s infotainment software comes loaded with more tech than that of most rivals. Sorting through audio and navigation menus is easy, and the built-in app store allows you to pay from the car with vendors such as Domino’s Pizza and Shell gas stations. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility ensures easy connection for those who want an even simpler interface, too. A 4G LTE cellular connection teams with a built-in Wi-Fi antenna to turn the crossover into a mobile hotspot, though Chevy charges a monthly fee for the feature.
Climate controls sit low on the dash, and adjusting the temperature involves turning a bezel around the air vents. Fine-tuning the temp can be a challenge without a lengthy glance away from the road, though the automatic functionality means set-and-forget convenience. Secondary controls for drive modes and optional safety features take up considerable center console real estate. USB inputs are scattered about and include a USB-C port between the round climate control vents.
The front seats are cloth-covered on the base and LS Blazer trims. Others have leather thrones that offer good adjustment and can be heated and cooled—with the right options selected—though the hides don’t have an especially plush feel. The rear seat is spacious and access through the wide doors is easy, though the bench itself is flat and firm. The rear seat tumbles forward to create a wide, long loading space, though the relatively low roof means its 64.2 cubic-foot capacity is about the same as its smaller sibling, the Equinox.
While it offers nice interior touches like contrasting stitching, the materials don’t align with a price tag that can climb into the $50,000 range. The high-sheen, hard plastic trim on the doors feels out-of-place at this price point.
A sporty choice for the road
A 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine is available on the base L and LS trims, but it’s only offered with front wheel drive and produces a modest 193 hp—not a lot when you’re lugging around 4,000 pounds of crossover. It seems to exist to enable the Blazer’s base MSRP to start below $30,000.
The 308 hp, 3.6 liter V6 found in most Blazers elevates price as much as it does power. It brings strong acceleration and pairs wonderfully with the 9-speed automatic transmission. For those counting, that’s three times as many gears found in the Blazers of old. The transmission does a good job of keeping engine revs low, which translates into less engine noise and better fuel economy. With all-wheel drive equipped, the Blazer checks in at a 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined, which is reasonable given the power underhood.
Front-wheel-drive versions will eagerly make tires squeal, especially when transitioning from a slippery surface such as a gravel parking lot onto a paved road. One surprising throwback with all-wheel-drive, which costs nearly $3,000 more, is that drivers have to remember to twist a control knob to match the road conditions they may encounter. The system includes a two-wheel-drive mode that ostensibly saves fuel, but can be all-too-easy to forget on a rainy or snowy day.
Our test Blazer had a firm-but-controlled ride. Its steering requires more effort than the comparatively relaxed Murano, for instance, but that may delight drivers who relish the curvature of the road ahead. Certainly, the Blazer’s handling adheres to its Camaro-inspired looks.
A makeover that comes at a price
The Blazer looks and mostly feels like a crisply tailored suit. It’s priced like one, too. The crossover SUV starts at MSRP $29,995 for the base Blazer L, but that model comes only with the underwhelming four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. It’s also only available in a few colors.
Most buyers will probably want to step up to the Blazer LT Cloth or LT Leather trim levels, which with the recommended V6 cost $34,495 and $38,695, respectively. All-wheel drive adds another $2,700 to both trims, meaning snow-belters aren’t likely to find many Blazers for less than $40,000.
Options run the gamut, but one many safety-conscious buyers will want is a full suite of advanced driving aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, and high-beam headlights. Chevrolet restricts those features to the Blazer RS and Premier, and even then they’re bundled with other features. With all-wheel drive, a Blazer RS with advanced safety features tops MSRP $45,000.
Conclusion: Rewarding to drive, and pleasantly comfortable… when it’s optioned right
In its recast of the venerable Blazer name, Chevrolet created a crossover with a legitimately sporty feel and an arresting style that’s bound to attract more attention in town than in the woods. When it’s optioned right, the 2019 Blazer is powerful, rewarding to drive, and pleasantly comfortable. It is also more expensive than its competitors when comparably equipped, which could make it a hard sell for money. Nobody ever said urbane style was cheap or easy.
2019 Chevrolet Blazer
Trim: Premier AWD
Base: $46,795. As tested: $49,290
18/25/21 mpg (city/hwy/comb)
Power (HP): 308
Torque (lb.-ft.): 270
Seating Capacity: 5
Advanced Safety Systems:
Rear Cross-Traffic Alerts
Other Key Trims: FWD/AWD (MSRP w/destination)
LT: $33,495 / $37,195
RS: $41,795 / $44,695
Premier: $43,895 / $46,795