Somewhere between Detroit and Dearborn, cruising the potholed I-94 freeway, I saw frantic arms and big smiles coming from a late-model Chrysler 300 in the next lane. Two young guys, baseball caps on backwards and slouched down for the posture you are supposed to adopt in a used 300 in the Motor City, were grinning and giving me enthusiast thumbs up.
Why? I was spending a week in the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Premier, which has a pronounced hood, high beltline, floating roof and overall badass design that stands out from the cookie-cutter design that plagues this high-volume segment. And in the “D,” the reinvention of the Blazer is cool if the antics of those around me are any indication.
Bringing back the Blazer name on midsize, car-based, four-door crossover is a move mired in controversy. The 2019 Blazer is not a body-on-frame SUV, or a two-door, and does not have a removable roof. Purists are aghast that the name, which dates back to 1969 and has not been used since 2005, would return in such an unfitting manner.
Then there are those who don’t remember the original truck-based Blazer but recognize the name and think it’s cool. Many consumers have been waiting for a midsize crossover to slot between the compact Equinox and full-size Traverse—to them, a right-sized crossover with a cool name is a bonus.
Second proof point: as I was leaving the office one day, I saw a local police cruiser drive through MotorTrend’s back parking lot. It slowed as it passed the parked Blazer, then shifted into reverse and backed up for a second look. The cruiser sat there, checking it out, until it noticed my leaving the building, and then it moved on.
This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen. We get tons of cool vehicles at work but few get special notice—especially crossovers or SUVs.
After a week in the Blazer, I was seduced by the sporty exhaust note from the 3.6-liter V-6 in our all-wheel-drive Premier tester. The crossover had lots of power at the ready, with its 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The base Blazer has a 193-hp, 188-lb-ft 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine and is front-wheel drive only. Both are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The five-passenger Blazer—spy shots have captured a three-row version under development—has the same bones as the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 as well as the GMC Acadia. The Blazer has the same substantial feel to it but adds a feisty nimbleness that pairs with the exhaust note like a juicy steak and a nice bottle of Shiraz.
The Blazer is festooned with Camaro design cues. Even though I was in a Graphite Metallic Premier and not the bright red RS that catches the most eyeballs, the SUV’s distinctive and sporty look still attracts attention in the Motor City where drivers know their vehicles, especially from the hometown teams.
The 2019 Blazer’s interior smacks of Camaro as well. I like the large, in-your-face and intuitive air vents: you turn them to adjust the temperature. The cabin looks more practical than luxurious, with lots of plastic and standard-looking trim and materials even though the Premier, which starts at $43,895, is supposed to be the luxury counterpart to the sporty RS trim. The Blazer Premier’s two-tone black and tan is attractive enough and there are heated and cooled seats, heated but plain steering wheel, and easily accessible USB ports for people in both rows. The infotainment screen is nicely integrated into the dash, graphics are crisp, and HVAC and other functional buttons are nicely displayed and intuitive to use.
Both rows are roomy and the rear seat reclines and slides for extra legroom or cargo room, which is important given that the cargo hold is not as ample as much of the competition.
The 2019 Blazer is now on sale and we will see more of them on the road—especially in Michigan where SUVs make sense and many buyers have GM connections for employee pricing. If reactions received this past week are any indication, the Blazer nameplate could become a common sight once again.
More on the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer:
- 2019 Chevrolet Blazer First Drive: Style. Substance?
- 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS First Test: The Camaro of Crossovers
- 2019 Honda Passport vs. 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Comparison Test
- 2019 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Comparison Test
- 2019 Chrysler Pacifica vs. 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Comparison Test
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