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2019 Chevrolet Blazer First Drive Review

2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new Chevy Blazer will blindside the midsize 2-row SUV segment. With little doubt, it is the one to consider.

Baie St-Paul, QC – If you pay close attention to the car business these days, you’d swear a new SUV is announced every other week. At one point, you’d be excused to think that they’re all the same or just about. But there’s one exception, and you’ve noticed.

One of these latest arrivals is the new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer. You’ve spotted it because it looks like nothing else, or more specifically, like no other SUV. This is the case if mostly because the only Blazer you have seen is a Red Hot RS-trimmed example. It is the Blazer but it’s probably not the one you’ll end up buying.

GM’s marketing plan is to front-load styling, gather attention, build momentum, get you into showrooms and have you sign off on a True North edition. It’s going to work and no, you’ll not have fallen into a trap.

Handsome and gifted

2019 Chevrolet Blazer
2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is really good at everything it was designed to do – it’s a true hook, line and sinker type of deal. Design-wise, the story is 90% in the front facia. The thin LED daytime running lights evoke Camaro, the fog-light are the actual headlights and then there’s the massive grille. Myself, I’m no fan of the black or dark chrome on the RS but who am I?

Overall, the new Blazer’s proportions are perfect, with a wide footprint, a confident butt – to put it simply, I find only the standard wheels on the Blazer and True North trims unfortunate as they remind me of the previous-generation Traverse’s rims.

On board the new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, it’s all about the passengers. The second-row bench will fit three abreast with ease. The seat itself slides fore and aft as well as reclines for maximum comfort. The boot is equally accommodating. GM stipulates that its volume is of 864 litres but it looks far greater than that.

Up front, it’s more of the same. The perches are large, the level of features is complete and includes superb Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus System as standard. The 8-inch screen is not exactly elegantly integrated into the dashboard however the screens, menu and their function are intuitive and quick. The graphics are fluid and accessing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among others, through in-vehicle apps is simple.

Blazing a new road

2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer’s main highlight is how it drives. Now, I’ve driven the most recent iteration of the GMC Acadia, the vehicle the Blazer shares the majority of its components with and, well, forget about the GMC.

The new Blazer is first and foremost as refined and civilized as any, if not more, of its competitors. This came as a welcomed surprise. The Blazer is setup on a 5-link rear suspension which even when coupled to the tested RS’ sport tuned dampers, cradles the passenger quarters beautifully. The ride is sufficiently compliant, plenty sporty and quite responsive. Moreover, steering and brakes are equally good.

I would have liked to sample a non-RS Blazer on the drive event, but they were rare. Some of the rougher roads I traversed managed to upset ride quality, which was not helped by the available 21-inch wheels. While 20-inch wheels are standard on the RS, I’d recommend the expected volume-leader True North, its 18-inch wheels and “regular” suspension tuning.

The V6 is the only way to go

2019 Chevrolet Blazer
2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The basic Blazer will be powered by a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine which will, according to GM, account for less than 5% of all sales. Although it will be capable, I’d suggest staying away from it if only for resale value. It is only available with FWD and the 3.6-litre V6 can also be delivered as such.

For $40,300, the Blazer V6 AWD is the first version to consider. To put bluntly, the 2.5-litre serves only to set a lower starting price and reduce the nameplate’s fuel consumption average. The 3.6-litre provides 308-horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque in the smoothest possible fashion. It’s incredibly polished and quiet.

With the standard-for-all 9-speed automatic transmission, the Blazer turns out to be rather quick. What it is not is especially fuel efficient. Expect to average close to 12L/100km in real world driving. By comparison, the Ford Edge ST with its 335-horsepower twin-turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 should do about 0.5L/100km better – it’s also much more powerful with 380 lb.-ft. of torque.

Traction Mode Select mistake

2019 Chevrolet Blazer
2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

I could write a 750-word paragraph right here on GM’s misguided Traction Mode Select wheel – I made the same comment in my recent Cadillac XT4 review. The dial is not the issue. The fact that there’s a FWD (x2) mode seems like the most pointless feature, especially in a $40k+ SUV. Essentially, in x2, the rear axle is locked out. If you happen on a slippery surface, you will experience wheelspin until you manually engage AWD (x4.) Knowing full-well that the majority of owners never use drive modes, why would this even be a thing?

GM reps state that this is for fuel economy purposes. Preposterous. Nearly all other SUVs have an on-demand AWD system that does not require any input from the driver and their stated fuel economy numbers are better than the Blazer’s. I asked countless questions as to why GM opted for this system I have yet to be given a satisfactory answer. Obviously, you can set the truck into AWD (x4) and forget it, but will that negate any possible fuel economy savings from offering an x2 mode? No word yet.

I like the Blazer more than expected

2019 Chevrolet Blazer | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

With the sole exception of this pointless x2 drive mode, the 2019 Chevy Blazer is brilliant. It’s spacious, comfortable, well-appointed and handsome. I’d stay away from the RS and Premier and stick to the Blazer AWD or better yet, the True North which adds roof rails, power tailgate, power passenger seat and a few other items.

As much as I enjoyed the new 2019 Honda Passport, the Blazer takes the top step on the segment’s podium.

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