By Eric Peters
How far can you stretch a name?
The Chevy Blazer was, once upon a time, a full-sized, two-door, truck-based SUV with a removable roof and a V-8 engine. Lee Majors drove one in “The Fall Guy.”
The current Blazer is a five-door, hatchbacked crossover with a four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels (with a V-6 engine and all-wheel drive optional).
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The roof does not come off.
Is the aura enough?
What It Is
The Blazer — in its modern iteration — is a midsize, five-passenger crossover similar to other light-duty models in the same class such as the Honda Passport, Ford Edge and Hyundai Sante Fe.
It differs from midsize SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee — which are based on rear-drive layouts, offer four-wheel drive (with low-range gearing) and, in the Jeep’s case, can be had with a V-8 engine.
Prices start at $28,800 for the base front-wheel-drive L trim, equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
A more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is available in the 2LT trim, which stickers for $33,100 with front-wheel drive and $35,100 with the optionally available all-wheel-drive system.
A V-6 engine is available in the RS trim, which stickers for $40,800 to start with front-wheel drive and $43,700 with all-wheel drive.
The top-of-the-line Premier comes standard with the V-6; the front-wheel drive version lists for $43,000. With the all-wheel-drive system, it tops out at $45,800.
All trims, including the base L, now come standard with the previously extra-cost automated emergency braking system.
You have a choice of three different engines — versus the usual two (or just one).
There’s a useful cargo management system.
There is abundant second-row legroom (39.6 inches).
What’s Not So Good
It isn’t as rowdy as it tries to look.
It only tows 1,500 pounds — even with its optional V-6 — unless you buy the extra-cost trailering package.
It’s more expensive than others in the class.
Under the Hood
In the Blazer’s corner is the fact that there are three available engine options.
The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, without a turbocharger, that makes 193 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic is the standard transmission. This version of the Blazer is front-drive-only.
If you want all-wheel drive, you’ll have to buy the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which comes standard in the 2LT trim. This one makes 227 horsepower — and you can pair it with front-wheel drive or (optionally) all-wheel drive.
The same nine-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The Camaro-themed RS Blazer gets the same 3.6-liter V-6 that’s available in the Camaro — mounted sideways (the Blazer being a front-wheel-drive vehicle) and powering either the front wheels only or all four, if you buy the optional all-wheel-drive system.
It makes 306 horsepower.
This one can also get to 60 in about 6.5 seconds, which compares favorably with the performance of ’80s-era V-8 muscle cars.
On the Road
What you get here is a more visually interesting alternative to visually bland rivals such as the Pilot, Sante Fe and Edge — with the perk of a wider selection of engines (the Pilot comes with just the one engine, take it or leave it; the Sante Fe gives you the option to pick one of two).
But the looks of the thing do not line up with the drive of the thing, and that can be a little disappointing — in the same way that a jar of salsa that touts how spicy it is via colorful graphics but that you can easily drink straight from the jar without needing a glass of water is a letdown.
The Honda Pilot — which looks as bland as a piece of toast — is actually quicker than the RS Blazer.
It gets to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.
At the Curb
Rowdy looks are the Blazer’s primary selling point.
It has a Camaro-like front-end treatment and gauge cluster — complete with a hugely optimistic 170 mph speedometer — as well as the RS (for Rally Sport) nomenclature that dates back to the classic Camaros of the ’70s.
Plus, it has up to 21-inch wheels.
It also has something no Camaro ever had — back seats with almost as much room as up front. There’s 39.6 inches of legroom in the Blazer’s second row — which is (no joke) more than a foot more legroom than in the current Camaro’s back seats.
There’s 30.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row, too, for whatever you need to tote — about three times as much space as in the Camaro’s trunk. This can be expanded to 64.2 cubic feet by lowering the second-row seatbacks.
This Chevy’s got a very weak tow rating — just 1,500 pounds — even with the V-6, unless you buy the extra-cost towing package. It then increases to 4,500 pounds — which is more than the Pilot’s max of 3,500 pounds.
But the Pilot’s standard tow rating is still twice as high as the Chevy’s.
The Bottom Line
This isn’t a bad crossover — but it’s hardly a Blazer.
And it’d be better if it were more like the Camaro.
Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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