The new 2020 Blazer is all about style and precision
“Street-inspired.” That’s the first word from Chevrolet on the new Blazer, a sport-utility vehicle that slots between the bow-tie brand’s compact Equinox and midsize Traverse. Unlike the early Blazers, known for ruggedness and utility, the new Blazer is all about style and sophistication. Yet it’s still an SUV, so it can be equipped to tow up to 4,500 pounds, and all-wheel-drive models have an off-road setting that’s a snap to engage.
Base-priced at $28,800, the Blazer has three engine choices and several trim alternatives. Our Midnight Blue Metallic test car was a Blazer Premier with all-wheel drive, the high-end version. Its sticker price was $49,060 with just one option, the Driver Confidence II package ($2,265).
Chevrolet has been turning out some fine-looking SUVs, and the Blazer is no exception. Its styling cues bring to mind the sporty Camaro, and its character lines are eye-catching as well. The interior is stylish yet functional; we were particularly impressed with how easy it is to lower the split rear seat to create a perfectly flat surface for cargo. Some competitors require the front seats to be moved forward before the rear seatbacks can be lowered all the way.
The front and rear seats are roomy and comfortable, with sufficient knee room for rear-seat passengers. However, tall drivers felt the steering wheel was too far away, even at full extension. Also, space for small items in front was limited.
Our Blazer was equipped with the 3.6-liter, 308-horsepower V-6 with a 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission. It’s fairly efficient, given its high power numbers and displacement — 18 mpg city, 25 highway. The standard engine, a 2.5-liter, 188-horsepower inline Four, delivers 22/27 with front-wheel drive. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline Four, rated at 230 horsepower. Fuel-economy data on this engine are not yet available.
We were impressed with the Blazer’s ride, handling and performance — right up there with the Mazda crossovers that are known for their agile handling and refinement. We also liked the audio controls placed on the forward-facing side of the steering hub. Their operation is identical to that of Fiat Chrysler models, an arrangement we have found to be among the most convenient for drivers.
2020 Chevrolet Blazer Premier AWD
Engine: 3.6-liter V-6, 308 horsepower, 270 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic
Ground clearance: 7.4 in.
Weight: 4,287 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 20-in. medium android machined-face aluminum
Tires: P235/55R20 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 30.5 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 64.2 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 4,500 lb.
Fuel capacity: 21.7 gal.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline
The Blazer’s weak spots center primarily on its form-over-function qualities. Visibility out the rear quarters is poor, so a blind-spot monitor, standard on the Premier model, but unavailable or optional on some lower trim levels, is a highly desirable feature. Also, the Blazer costs thousands more than the Equinox, but the two SUVs have practically identical cargo-space ratings.
The Blazer has been selling well, reaching 20,312 units sold in September — unfortunately, just in time for the United Auto Workers union’s strike to bring about a parts shortage that forced temporary closure of the Mexican plant where the Blazer is assembled. The Blazer competes mainly with the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-5 and CX-9, Nissan Murano, Buick Envision, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Honda Passport.
In its first round of safety testing, the Blazer managed an impressive five-star rating in government crash tests.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.