2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD
3.6-liter V6, DOHC (308 hp @ 6700 rpm, 270 lb/ft. @ 5000 rpm)
Nine-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive
18 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
22.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
12.7 city / 9.5 highway / 11.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $44,695 US / $48,295 CAD
As Tested: $50,765 US/ $55,485 CAD
Prices include $1195 destination charge in the United States and $1995 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
As I’ve been reviewing cars for this venerable publication for nearly three years, I’ve noticed how easy it is to become jaded about new cars. While I’m not like some journalists, getting handed keys to six figure exotics every week, I am rather lucky to experience cars on a regular basis that frequently cost more than I’d likely ever spend with my own money.
I’m reminded of this most often when something unusual graces my driveway, and a neighbor strikes up a conversation — or when I’m walking back to the car from the supermarket and someone is waiting to ask about the car. It doesn’t happen often — but this new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS seemingly compels conversation.
Plan your trips accordingly.
The styling is certainly polarizing. The new Blazer has been so frequently referred to as a “Camaro but as a crossover” that it’s becoming a bit cliché. From my angle, I see a Camaro that one can actually see out of.
I’ll be here all week. Be sure to try the meatloaf.
But really, thanks to Chevrolet for building a crossover that doesn’t blend in. Most competitors are visually interchangeable save for the preponderance of hideous corporate grilles — I’m looking at you, Lexus.
Here, the style goes beyond the front hubs. Blacked-out A-pillars, a funky D-pillar creating an almost-floating roof effect, and a dramatic upward sweep to the rear quarter panel make this one of the most distinctive crossovers on the market.
My only gripe with the styling is on the rear, where a highly-polished black panel sits below the tailgate, with another black panel of a slightly different sheen makes up the lower bumper. The mismatch is distracting, but if one were to select a darker color than the bright Red Hot hue found here, the panels would likely not be as incongruous.
Inside, the Camaro influence continues with the central HVAC ducts dominating the dash. I love the novel method of controlling temperature by spinning the outer rim of the duct — dual-zone climate control is important as my usual front-seat passenger typically sets her side about ten degrees higher than mine. However, the location of the duct outlet itself isn’t ideal. I’d prefer it be set higher in the dash to allow warm or cold air be blown toward the driver’s face as needed — on a long evening road trip, I’ll often keep cold air blasting my schnoz paired with plenty of caffeine to help with alertness. With these nozzles, my right hand, right knee, and the forward-most cupholder gets the bulk of the airflow.
Otherwise, the interior is perfectly functional, with clear controls for HVAC in a single row above those big ducts, and a quick-reacting touchscreen for audio and phone controls. The plastic on the lower half of the dash is a bit hard to the touch, but the top half is nicely finished in stitched leather(ish?) material, with body-color stitching. Front and rear comfort is quite good, as the kids had plenty of head and legroom in the second row without kicking me. The seats are supportive enough — the lower cushions are a bit flat but, unless one takes this big Blazer corner carving, you’ll never notice.
No, I’m not saying that the Blazer leans toward the “sports” side of the SUV formula. But the driving dynamics are superb for what it is. Steering is light but responsive and cornering is reasonably flat. The ride is a touch firm but controlled over frost heaves and potholes. Some of the harshness likely comes from the optional 21-inch alloy wheels, included on my tester as part of the creatively-named “Sun and Wheels” ($2,495 MSRP) package that adds the panoramic sunroof and the larger (versus standard on the RS trim 20 inch) wheels.
308 horsepower is a lovely thing. However, as the Blazer is equipped with a naturally aspirated V6, the power comes in relatively high on the tachometer. Many other competitors use a turbo four cylinder, which produces power lower in the range. Still, I love the character of the V6 — with a nice subtle growl under load. I’ve generally found the V6 to more consistently meet fuel economy expectations than a turbocharged engine. I was pleasantly surprised to beat the EPA combined rating of 21 mpg in my week of driving mostly in typical city conditions.
It’s fair to say that I like the Chevrolet Blazer. It’s pricey for what it is, certainly, but it’s fair to say that the typical incentives offered on most General Motors products will make this a more appealing buy.
Were I to spec a Blazer, I’d have to select the V6, but I’d shy away from the RS trim simply to bring the cost down. I’m looking at another creative trim name, “Blazer Cloth” with all-wheel drive, cloth seats, the V6, adding the $1,845 Convenience and Driver Confidence package (remote start, heated front seats, power liftgate, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind zone monitor among other things) for a delivered MSRP of $39,040 before any cash on the hood. And this one will have to ride even better on meaty 18 inch wheels. I’d have to imagine that this is a spec that will frequently be stocked by dealers, and thus allow for more aggressive discounting.
Make mine the unusual Sunlit Bronze Metallic, and again thank Chevrolet for making a number of interesting colors a no-extra-cost option.
At that number, the Blazer will continue to turn heads and spark conversations. Yeah, a few of those convos will bring up the “ruined heritage” of the Blazer name. No matter. As an owner of a Chevrolet TrailBlazer, I can guarantee you the “heritage” of that name was obliterated by the GMT360 platform in 2002. Don’t worry about the name — this Blazer is good enough to make most people forget.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn, screenshot courtesy Chevrolet.com]