The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer revives a nameplate that hasn’t been seen at GM since 2005. The new version is not a truck-based SUV; the 2019 Blazer is a comfortable mid-size crossover SUV with a front-drive foundation. In Chevrolet’s lineup, it fills the gap between the five-passenger Equinox and the seven- or eight-seat Traverse.
Blazers come in four trim levels â€“ L, base (LT), sporty RS, and upscale Premier â€“ with a 4-cylinder or V-6 engine.
Standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, developing 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. The optional 3.6-liter V-6 generates 308 hp and 270 lb-ft. All Blazers use a 9-speed automatic transmission.
All-wheel drive is offered on all but L trim, but only with the V-6 engine. AWD comes in two forms. The basic setup, installed on lower-trim models, can disconnect power that would otherwise go to the rear wheels. Drivers must remember to return the selector to all-wheel-drive mode when it’s needed.
RS and Premier trim levels can get a more sophisticated AWD system with a twin-clutch rear differential. This version can shift torque between the rear wheels, to improve handling and traction. In addition to AWD mode, these Blazers offer three other choices: Sport, Off-Road, and Tow/Haul.
A V-6 Blazer can tow up to 4,500 lb; the 4-cylinder manages only 1,500 lb.
No Blazer has standard automatic emergency braking â€“ an active-safety feature that’s standard on many less-expensive vehicles. Blind-spot monitors and rear parking sensors are available for LT trim.
LT trim and above can be fitted with a rear camera mirror, which projects an uninterrupted view from behind the car onto the inside mirror. Getting used to it takes a while. Adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system are extra-cost options, offered only on top trim levels.
A warning chime alerts the driver to check the back seat for infants and children in car seats.
Only RS and Premier can be fitted with trailer-sway control, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, forward-collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking.
Because it’s new, the Blazer has not been crash-tested by the IIHS. The NHTSA gave it five stars overall.
Prices do not include $1,195 destination charge.
L ($28,800) comes with front-wheel drive and the 4-cylinder engine, including cloth seat upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Base (1LT) Blazer ($32,300) has front-wheel drive and the 4-cylinder engine, along with a power driver’s seat and compact spare tire.
Base (2LT) V-6 ($33,000 with front-drive, $36,000 with all-wheel drive) substitutes the V-6 engine, adding trailer sway control and hitch guidance.
Base (3LT) V-6 ($37,500 with FWD, $40,200 with AWD) adds a power liftgate, lane-change assist, blind-spot monitors, rear parking assist, heated front seats, power front passenger seat, and leather upholstery.
RS ($40,600 with FWD, $43,500 with AWD) has the V-6 engine and features a distinctively sporty appearance with blacked-out elements, including a black hexagonal mesh grille. Standard features include navigation, a cargo-management system, 120-volt outlet, seatback storage pockets, and 20-inch wheels.
Premier V-6 ($42,700 with FWD, $45,600 with AWD) adds more metallic body trim, eight-speaker Bose audio, cooled front seats, heated outboard rear seats, memory mirrors, 21-inch wheels, and a power tilt/telescopic steering column.
With its wide stance, high beltline, and dramatically sculpted bodysides, the properly-proportioned 2019 Blazer has a well-toned athletic look. Contemporary styling, topped by a “floating canopy” profile, places the Blazer far apart from the dowdier appearance of Chevrolet’s smaller Equinox.
Sitting high off the ground, emphasized by big wheels, the Blazer is highlighted by clever body lines and attention-grabbing details. Fenders swell outward fashionably. Blacked-out trim lets the roof appear to float on its rear pillars. Out back are high-mounted taillights.
Grilles differ by trim levels: “signature” horizontal look for base models, black mesh for RS, and chrome-accented on the Premier.
Interesting shapes highlight the Blazer’s driver-centric cabin, with plenty of space for five adult passengers.
Seats in both front and rear could be more shapely and comfortable, though front backrests provide ample support. Good adjustment ranges let most drivers find a workable seating position, though taller folks might find the steering wheel a little too close.
Base models with cloth upholstery get attractively quilted stitching, but bottom cushions are short and firm, and won’t fit the biggest drivers as well. In upper trim levels, eight-way power front seats can be heated/cooled and leather-clad.
The rear bench slides fore/aft to shift cargo and passenger space as needed. Headroom is fine and leg space excels, helped by slimmed-down front seatbacks, but the bench could be more supportive.
Symmetrical banks of buttons accompany the 8.0-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system works sufficiently smoothly.
Cargo space behind the rear seat totals 30.5 cubic feet, expanding to 64.2 cubic feet with seatbacks folded flat. Liftover height is reasonable.
Today’s Blazer isn’t likely to remind anyone of the old version. Base-model Blazer riders should expect a taut, assertively firm ride. Even smaller pavement flaws can induce some fidgeting, but the Blazer starts to relax at higher speeds, overcoming initial low-speed ride stiffness.
Premier and RS models ride a bit better, absorbing more road commotion â€“ despite the RS edition’s stiffer shock absorbers.
Crisp handling qualities are highlighted by steering and road manners that feel more sedanlike than SUV-oriented. Tracking nicely on straightaways, the Blazer can ease through curves with impressive fluidity. As road speed rises, its steering gets heavier, but still tracks well thanks to centering force programmed into it. RS models have slightly quicker steering.
It’s easy to drive the Blazer smoothly, helped by a transmission that tends to linger in middle gears.
Snappy acceleration is the rule with V-6 power â€“ but accompanied by raspy exhaust sounds. Despite its two-ton weight, the Blazer doesn’t feel sluggish. Credit also goes to the carefully-programmed 9-speed transmission.
Though acceptable, the 4-cylinder engine emits more noise.
In any Blazer, the driver can twist a knob to quicken steering, shift points, and throttle response. Outward visibility is generally good, but thick rear roof pillars limit the rearward view.
Fuel economy is typical. Front-drive Blazers with the 4-cylinder engine are EPA-rated at 22/27 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined. The front-drive V-6 Blazer is less thrifty, at 20/26/22 mpg. With all-wheel drive, the V-6 is EPA-rated at 18/25/21 mpg. All Blazers have active grille shutters and stop/start technology to conserve fuel.
The 2019 Chevy Blazer tempts drivers with brisk V-6 acceleration and abundant passenger space. Crisp handling comes with a firm ride. We’d choose the V-6 engine and option up to the latest safety features in the Premier model.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.