When Chevrolet officials revealed they were bringing back the tried-and-true Blazer nameplate, visions of rough-and-tumble off-roaders danced in the heads of many. Those folks got a big of a surprise when the Camaro-inspired vehicle arrived.
Overview: Unlike its well-known predecessors, the 2021 Blazer is a crossover, not an SUV. Slotting in between the smaller two-row Equinox and larger three-row Traverse, the Blazer offers more on-road thrills than its siblings, along with a hefty amount of added style, and counts the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano as its closest competitors.
The Blazer comes in L, LT, 1LT, 2LT 3LT, RS and Premier trim levels with front-wheel drive; 2LT, 3LT, RS and Premier models can be fitted with all-wheel drive. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, with navigation standard on RS and Premier models and optional on the 3LT.
(Chevrolet charging into electric aftermarket with K5 Blazer conversion for SEMA show.)
Chevrolet’s Safety Assist Package is now standard on 2LT, 3LT, RS and Premier models, and includes automatic-emergency braking, front-pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, following distance indicator, forward-collision alert, and automatic high beams. A trailering package is available on front-wheel-drive models with the 3.6-liter V-6, which increases trailering capacity to 4,500 pounds from 1,500.
Exterior: Credit GM designers for designing a crossover with a visual vocabulary that’s appealingly sporty without looking juvenile. While Chevrolet would like you to think of the Camaro while looking at the Blazer, it’s a bit of stretch. No, actually, it’s a huge stretch. But it’s interesting to look at, something that can’t often be said of crossover-utility vehicles. Sure, those good looks come at a higher price than other Chevrolet crossovers, but automotive haute couture costs more, especially when it comes with all-wheel drive. The value here comes from its looks.
“… The good looks come at a higher price than other Chevrolet crossovers, but automotive haute couture costs more, especially when it comes with all-wheel drive …”
Interior: The Blazer has a pleasingly sporty ambience that incorporates design motifs used in the Camaro, including rotating air-conditioning vent bezels for adjusting the automatic climate control. However, there’s no mistaking it for a Camaro;
you can actually see out of the Blazer. That said, considering this vehicle’s price, some of the trim feels cheap, despite some upscale comfort and convenience features, such as heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats and ambient lighting.
But the Blazer doesn’t skimp on utility in the name of style. There’s 30.8 cubic feet of space for all of your lifestyle debris, which expands to 64.2 cubic feet if you leave you family or friends at home and fold down the rear seats.
Powertrain: The Blazer shares its underpinnings with the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac XT5, and comes with a dual-overhead-cam 193-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. On L and 1LT models. A turbocharged DOHC 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is standard on 2LT and 3LT models and produces a respectable 227 horsepower.
But the engine to have is the DOHC 308-hp 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine; it’s standard on RS and Premier trims and available on 2LT and 3LT. A 9-speed automatic is standard. Towing is rated at 1,500 pounds with front-wheel drive, and 4,500 pounds with the V6, all-wheel drive and the trailering package. Tire sizes range from 18 to 21 inches depending on model.
If you’re looking for fuel economy, the 2.0-liter is your best bet, as it returns 24 mpg with front-wheel drive and 25 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 2.5-liter, available solely with front-wheel drive comes in at 23 mpg, while the 3.6-liter returns 22 mpg with front-wheel drive, 21 mpg with all-wheel drive, which isn’t bad given its performance proclivities. All engines run on 87 octane gasoline.
(First Drive: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer.)
Technology and Safety: The Blazer sustains your electronic life with an 8-inch color touchscreen with navigation system, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six USB ports.
While all Blazers come with a tire pressure monitor and a backup camera (as required by federal law since 2018), if you want any advanced driver-assistance safety features, you must pay an additional $5,495 over an L for a 2LT or above. Then, you’ll get standard automatic-emergency braking, front-pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, following-distance indicator, forward-collision alert and automatic headlamps.
You’ll also get access to all-wheel drive. A $1,650 Driver Confidence II package is offered on the RS and Premier and adds wireless charging, HD surround vision camera, rear camera mirror, adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, safety alert seat and LED headlamps.
Driving impressions: Assured and responsive, the V-6-powered Blazer Premier does feel more engaging than the mushy handling typical of this class – not to mention other Chevy crossovers. The Blazer remains remarkably poised and steady while cornering, with minimal body lean and admirable bump absorption, although you’ll still notice them.
The steering is accurate, and with the admirable road manners, you’ll find the Blazer’s responsiveness engaging. Its strong, smooth flow of power is pleasing in a way no turbocharged four could hope to match, and the transmission shifts discreetly.
Nevertheless, enthusiasts will wish for faster shifts. While there is a fast-reacting manual mode, it’s actuated by a Lilliputian toggle switch on the shifter that’s positively useless. Any pretense of the Blazer being an enthusiast’s vehicle is eviscerated by this idiotic design concession to corporate accountants.
(First Drive: 2019 Chevy Blazer.)
Wrap Up: In many ways, the Blazer is the classic modern American, boasting flamboyant style, smooth power delivery and respectable road manners. It’s not cheap, but one must always pay for fine fashion, and that the Chevrolet Blazer delivers in spades.