By Eric Peters
Once upon a time, Chevy’s Blazer was a full-size 4×4 — this was before there were “SUVs” — and it came standard with a V8 engine. It has since gotten smaller — and it’s now a crossover.
Similar to so many others.
But it does still offer a V6, and that’s something that’s becoming hard to find in a new crossover.
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And, so equipped, it can pull more (4,500 pounds) than most crossovers. Many of which are four cylinder-only crossovers.
What It Is
The Blazer is a midsize (and midprice) crossover with two rows of seats, five-passenger capacity and an available V6.
Base price is $36,495 for the front-wheel-drive (and four cylinder-powered) 2LT trim, which can be optioned with all-wheel-drive. This version of the Blazer stickers for $39,195.
The 3LT trim — with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s standard in the 2LT — stickers for $40,695 with FWD and $43,395 with AWD. This model is also eligible for the optional 3.6-liter V6, which only adds $500 to the bottom line.
The sport-themed RS, which stickers for $44,195 to start (with FWD) and $47,095 with AWD comes standard with the V6, as well as a 20-inch wheel/tire package and unique exterior and interior trim differences.
Interestingly, the top-of-the-line Premier trim is priced the same as the RS but does not come standard with the V6. Instead, it comes standard with unique-to-this-trim chrome and silver accents.
What’s New for 2023
In addition to slight styling tweaks, a larger (10-inch) LCD touchscreen in the center stack is now standard equipment in all four trims.
Chevy doesn’t price the V6 such that only a few can afford it.
AWD isn’t mandatory with the V6 — or unavailable with the four.
Enough towing capacity (with the V6) to pull a small RV.
What’s Not So Good
Not as much cargo space as some same-size rivals.
Max tow rating is below that of some rivals in the class, such as the Kia Telluride/Hyundai Palisade twins, which come standard with a 5,000-pound rating and a standard V6.
Rear seat headroom (38.6 inches) is less than in rivals with higher rooflines.
Under The Hood
The Blazer’s standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder that produces 228 horsepower. It gets this Chevy to 60 in just over 8 seconds and gets 22 mpg in city driving and 29 on the highway.
If you’d like more power, better performance — and about the same gas mileage (19 city, 27 highway) — a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 308 horsepower is optional. It is the same basic V6 that is available in the Chevy Camaro, and the association is deliberate. The Blazer is styled to echo the Camaro, and so equipped it can do a decent imitation of one, 0-60. That happens in just over six seconds.
Both engines are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Interestingly, the available AWD system is not restricted to the V6, and you do not have to buy it if you want the V6.
On The Road
The 2.0-powered Blazer drives like most of the rest. This isn’t bad, just uneventful.
It’s the V6 Blazer that drives differently.
And it’s not just because it has more-than-adequate power, either. It is because it has that V6, which generates those sounds as well as that power. It is also a revvy engine because it is not turbocharged. It only makes a bit more torque — 270 foot-pounds vs. 258 for the 2.0 four — and it does not generate its maximum torque until it revs to 5,000 rpm. The 2.0 produces its maximum torque output at just 1,500 rpm. This latter actually makes the much smaller engine feel stronger, initially and at part throttle. But when you floor it, there’s no confusing who’s boss.
Also nice — about either configuration — is the nine-speed geared automatic. It does a good job especially of holding a lower gear when you’re driving downhill, which provides a useful engine braking effect and keeps you from having to ride the brakes to avoid building up excessive speed.
At The Curb
Chevy stylists worked hard to try to make the Blazer look more like a four-door Camaro and less like … all the other crossovers out there. And it does, chiefly because of its raked/lowered roofline. This does, however, cut down some on headroom, especially for the back seat occupants, and cargo room, of which there is a bit less than in some of the others in this class.
Still, it has 30.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind its second row, which is more than three times as much space for cargo than a Camaro has in its purse-size trunk.
But there is another cost you may want to consider.
It is the trade-off that comes with the sexier/lower roofline — and the abbreviated/tapered side glass, which results in not-so-great visibility to the sides (and rear).
If you don’t want a powered liftgate — these often seem to take forever to open and close — you can skip it, as this feature is not standard with the base 2LT trim. But you can also order it, if you’d like to have it — without stepping up to the more expensive 3LT (and higher) trims.
The Bottom Line
You may remember the old commercial about how you could have had a V8 (as in vegetable juice). This is likely one of your last chances to get a V6.
Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. 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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