You’ve probably seen the auto headlines screaming, “The new Chevy Blazer is coming for 2019” and while it is true that the new Blazer will be at your favorite Chevrolet dealership early next year, it may not be what you think it should be. The 2019 Blazer, an all-new midsize crossover utility vehicle slotted between the compact Equinox and the full-size Traverse in Chevrolet’s lineup, will be available in base, sporty RS, or luxury Premier trim levels. The Blazer will be a stylish and versatile five-passenger crossover SUV, but it won’t have the tough, rugged off-road capabilities of its namesake.
The Return of the Chevy Blazer
The Blazer name will return to the Chevrolet portfolio for 2019, marking the first time that name has been used since 2005. This time, however, instead of offering off-road capabilities like its famous ancestor, the new Blazer will offer stylish and versatile transportation for five passengers as a crossover SUV. Alan Batey president of GM North America and head of Global Chevrolet says, “The introduction of the all-new Blazer further strengthens the most comprehensive lineup of crossovers and SUVs on the market today.”
The new Blazer will not have a body-on-frame design as did its venerable predecessor, but will have unibody construction based on GM’s C1 platform also used for the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac XT5. Since the U.S. facilities capable of building midsize SUVs are currently at full capacity running three shifts a day, the Blazer will be built in Mexico. Be aware that the Blazer will be offered only with two-row seating and there will not be third row seating even as an option. Pricing details have not yet been released, but will be announced closer to the start of production.
An All-New Look for the Blazer
Each 2019 Blazer model offers a unique look with distinct styling to suit different customers’ tastes. The various Blazer models are differentiated by unique grille appearances, additional bright chrome on the Premier trim and a more sinister-looking, custom black mesh grille and front air dam for the Blazer RS. All models feature a powerful front end with a strong grille and hood lines, and low-placed HID headlamps. The sculpted body sides lead to a rear end that’s highlighted by LED-illuminated Chevy-signature dual-element taillamps, dual exhaust outlets and an integrated tailgate spoiler.
Blazer also will offer a range of stylish wheels, with 18-inch aluminum wheels standard on the base model and 20-inch wheels standard on the RS and Premier. Twenty-one inch wheels are optional on the RS and Premier models. Inspired by the Camaro, the 2019 Blazer features a wide stance, tall hood, big grille, and a high beltline. “The Blazer has attitude,” according to John Cafaro, executive director of Global Chevrolet Design. “It looks commanding on the road, while fulfilling the promise of versatility at the heart of every Chevy crossover and SUV.”
Two engine choices are available, the 2.5-liter I-4 LCV making 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque is standard on the base Blazer, and a 3.6-liter V6 producing 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft is optional on the base model and standard on the RS and Premier. Both have direct-injection and intelligent stop/start technology that seamlessly shuts off the engine when power is not needed, based on a variety of driving factors. The engines are mated to a new GM nine-speed automatic transmission. The base Blazer can be had with Front Wheel Drive (FWD) or All Wheel Drive (AWD), while AWD is standard on the RS and Premier.
Traction Select is standard on all models, allowing the driver to make real-time adjustments to the driving mode to account for varying road conditions. On all-wheel drive models, Traction Select can disconnect the system from the rear axle allowing operation of the vehicle in FWD when AWD is not necessary. A more sophisticated twin-clutch AWD is offered in RS and Premier models that optimizes traction providing excellent performance in wet, snowy, and icy conditions, and enhancing stability in dry weather. Towing capacity of the new Blazer is estimated to be about 4,500 pounds.
The interior of the new Blazer has materials and features that were unheard of back in the days of the original Blazer. Emphasizing space, craftsmanship, and customer personalization, today’s Blazer offers several color and trim options for each model. The RS model has red design touches throughout, while the Premier offers a two-tone design theme with chrome trim. Chevrolet’s first Cargo Management System, standard on the RS and Premier, features a rail system with a cargo fence to help secure smaller items by subdividing the cargo area. A sliding rear seat is standard along with a dual-zone climate control system. Options include a panoramic roof and a hands-free power liftgate.
Chevrolet also has blessed the new Blazer with the latest in connectivity and technology features, such as:
- Hitch guidance is available on models with the 3.6L V6 to align the hitch to a trailer by showing the center line on the rear-vision camera
- Hitch View is an optional feature that shows a birds-eye view making it easier to hitch a trailer without a second person to assist
- An electronic-locking glove box roomy enough to hold a small handbag, locks when the vehicle is in Valet Mode
- Available automatically heated steering wheel and automatically heated/ventilated front seats work with Remote Start and/or automatic climate control to maintain comfort
- Comfort-open windows activated by the key fob allows all windows to roll down before the occupants enter
- Heated outboard rear seats are available on the RS and are standard on Premier
- Adaptive Cruise Control and Rear Camera Mirror are available on RS and Premier
- Wireless charging and six USB ports are available
- Eight-inch diagonal color touch screen with Chevrolets Infotainment 3 is standard, along with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility
Old Name Revived on a New and Different Vehicle
The original Blazer debuted in 1969 and quickly acquired a reputation for off-road toughness that was legendary, going head-to-head with Ford’s original Bronco for the best American off-road vehicle. With the famous name now being used for a midsize crossover vehicle, Motor Trend magazine felt compelled to remind its readers that, “The 2019 Blazer has little in common with its predecessor two-door truck-based SUV.” Hard core off-roaders might take offense at Chevrolet using the name on a new unibody SUV that has no off-road bona fides. This possibility must have been considered by Chevrolet during the Blazer design efforts, as Alan Batey said during the introduction, “I don’t think there will be a push back on the name.”
It may not be a problem for Chevrolet as the industry has used discarded names on other new vehicles in the past without causing any issues. The elephant in the room that Chevrolet seems to be ignoring is the upcoming new Ford Bronco, now promised for 2020. If the new Ford Bronco is also only another midsize crossover SUV, then the Blazer and Bronco can once again compete with each other. However, should Ford, cognizant of the Bronco’s off-road heritage, make the new Bronco a killer off-road vehicle, the Chevrolet team may have to do some quick scrambling to get a toehold in the serious off-road market.
Today’s Blazer is a mainstream vehicle intended to compete in a crowded midsize crossover market against the likes of Ford’s Edge, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, and Nissan’s Murano. It is a fine vehicle, but is it a vehicle that should invoke the name of its famous off-road predecessor? We’ll let Car and Driver answer that question: “We knew the Blazer. We loved the Blazer. And this, GM, is no Blazer.”
PHOTOS: All credited to Chevrolet