Which Blazer does AMG CARS INC recommend?
While the base L model is generously equipped, we recommend upgrading to the Blazer trim level, specifically the Blazer 3.6L Leather. The Blazer trim includes all the standard items such as xenon headlights, cruise control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. But the 3.6L Leather also adds leather upholstery, the optional V6 engine, heated front seats, and safety equipment such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is an all-new vehicle, but the name is probably familiar for most people. It’s been around in several different forms before, dating all the way back to the 1960s. In its most iconic form, it was a two-door SUV with a removable top. More recently, Chevy used the Blazer name for a compact SUV based on the S-10 pickup truck. Now for 2019, the Blazer morphs into a crossover SUV that fills a gap in Chevy’s lineup between the smaller Equinox and the three-row Traverse.
Similar to the related GMC Acadia, this new Blazer comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine good for 193 horsepower. It’s an underwhelming mill for this size of SUV, so we’d go with the optional 3.6-liter V6. It puts out more than 300 horsepower and is capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds. On the inside, the Blazer offers a long list of available equipment such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with some desirable safety features such as adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation.
As a style choice, the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is certainly appealing; its Camaro-like styling helps it stand out from the crowd. But given the wealth of great choices for a five-passenger SUV, it will also be worth your time to shop around. Other top picks this year include the Ford Edge, the Honda Passport, the Subaru Outback and the Toyota 4Runner.
Chevrolet Blazer models
The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is a five-seat SUV that’s available in four trim levels: L, Blazer (also called the LT), RS and Premier. The L trim level is the base model, with a decent amount of standard equipment, including a few key tech items. You’re more likely to find the next-level Blazer trim on dealer lots, however, and it comes in three subtrims: 2.5L Cloth, 3.6L Cloth and 3.6L Leather. They offer increasing amounts of safety equipment plus the upgraded engine. The RS has a sporty look with some unique exterior details, while the Premier is the most luxurious of the Blazers.
The base L trim level is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (193 horsepower, 188 pound-feet of torque) that’s paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Other standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, four USB ports (two front and two rear), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, OnStar with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and a six-speaker stereo.
The Blazer trim level has three different specifications: 2.5L Cloth, 3.6L Cloth and 3.6L Leather. The 2.5L Cloth adds to the base L trim level with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, rear privacy glass and a spare tire (instead of a repair kit). As its name suggests, the 3.6L Cloth gets the 3.6-liter V6 engine (305 hp, 269 lb-ft), as well as the option to upgrade to all-wheel drive. The 3.6L Leather adds black roof rails, a power liftgate, remote start, heated power-adjustable mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.
Near the top of the Blazer heap is the RS, which has a sporty look and adds to the 3.6L Leather’s equipment with 20-inch wheels, a blacked-out front grille, driver-seat memory settings, dual exhaust tips, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, an upgraded driver information display, a 120-volt power outlet, and an adjustable cargo management system.
The Premier gets all of the RS’ equipment plus some chrome exterior accents, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
Most of the upper-trim-level equipment can be added to lower trim levels in option packages. Other notable options include a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection.
Strong acceleration and crisp handling are two of the Blazer’s hallmarks, but slow and heavy steering and rampant torque steer (the steering wheel tugs at your hands when you romp on the gas) negate most of the Blazer’s sporting pretensions. Optional all-wheel drive is meant more for wet-weather driving than any legitimate off-road use.
The Blazer is slow to get going, but once it does, it delivers a good wallop of power from its 3.6-liter V6 at medium and high speeds. It comes in handy whether moving along in the surge of city traffic or when passing at highway speeds. In Edmunds testing, our Blazer did 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds — a quick pace for a car this large.
The brake pedal is fairly responsive during normal braking. In harder, panic-style braking, the pedal stiffens, sensitivity improves and overall stability is excellent. Our test Blazer stopped from 60 mph in 127 feet, a good result for this class of SUV.
The steering effort is a bit heavy but feels appropriate given the Blazer’s size. Minimal on-center feel and self-centering effect mean you’ll constantly need to make minor corrections to keep the Blazer on a straight path. Around turns, there’s a slight delay from when you turn the wheel to when the vehicle responds.
The Blazer’s body roll is quite well-controlled when making quick turns. There’s admirable agility even though it’s a fairly heavy vehicle. Chevy did a nice job of giving the Blazer secure, even fun, handling.
The transmission’s firm gearshifts are prominent but not off-putting. The Blazer’s steering wheel will tug and pull in your hands if you mash the gas while turning, so it’s best to keep a firm grip on the wheel whenever getting on the gas with authority. Note that our test Blazer was front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive models will smooth out this tendency somewhat.
Chevy doesn’t tout the Blazer’s off-road ability, which is just as well. The Blazer has a modest 7.4 inches of ground clearance (less than a Subaru Outback or a Jeep Cherokee). Its optional all-wheel-drive system is also designed for increased traction on wet roads and improved handling, and not necessarily for dirt trails.
With comfortable seats and a suspension that soaks up bumps and ruts, the Blazer offers a smartly controlled ride that’s right for a family SUV. The same can’t be said for its noise absorption, however, as the cabin is awash in wind and road noise. The climate system takes a while to heat up, too.
The front seats are wide and have moderate bolstering and firm cushions. Overall shape prioritizes comfort over performance; these are not sport seats but remain supportive during long stretches. The rear seats are fairly flat but are positioned at a comfortable height and angle. They also slide and recline.
The stability and taut body control are impressive. While bumps and road rash are felt, the well-damped suspension minimizes sharp and jarring impacts. The Blazer demonstrates that both handling and a comfortable ride can coexist in a family-oriented crossover.
Noise & vibration
A fair amount of wind, road and tire noise seeps into the cabin. It’s a constant ambient presence especially when driving on older, rougher and textured roads. It doesn’t rise to the level that would impede conversation among front-seat passengers, although drivers might have to raise their voices with rear passengers.
The air conditioning cools the cabin fairly rapidly, but heat and seat heaters take a while to ramp up on cold mornings, even on the max setting. The front-seat heaters warm your back to a higher degree than your legs and thighs. Chevy has independent back-and-leg dual-stage seat heating in other cars; why aren’t they here?
Slipping in and out of the Blazer is easy, but taller passengers in the back seat will feel the pinch of a sloping roofline that reduces headroom. Certain buttons and controls are cryptically marked and awkwardly arranged. Blind-spot monitoring is standard; good thing, too, since you can’t see much out the rear quarters.
Ease of use
Most controls are within easy reach. But design and placement of certain secondary controls seem like an afterthought. There are cryptic icons on the stalks and buttons, and the hard-key climate control buttons are arranged in a strange fashion.
Getting in/getting out
The seat cushions are low enough that stepping in and out of the vehicle is easy for nearly all passengers. Those who are more than 6 feet tall will need to duck on their way into the back row. Rear doors don’t open particularly wide, hindering some overall utility. But there’s enough of an opening for passenger in-and-out.
The eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column provide suitable amounts of adjustment. There’s a good range between low and high seating positions.
Front passengers get plenty of room to relax and freely move arms and elbows. Rear passengers don’t have it so good. There’s plenty of legroom, but only enough room to seat two adults comfortably (three children would be fine). The sloping roofline also compromises headroom for 6-foot-plus passengers.
The rising beltline at the rear compromises side and rearward visibility. It’s another Camaro styling cue that might look good from the outside, but you probably won’t see a passenger sedan or small compact car with a casual look over your shoulder. The view directly behind the car, out of the wide rear window, is good.
Our test vehicle had an odd lumpy and rhythmic vibration from the engine bay at idle. It was subtle enough that you’d get used to it, and it didn’t happen every time, but it manifested frequently enough to make you wonder about a car with just 1,400 miles on the odometer. Otherwise, our test Blazer was solidly put together.
The Blazer lacks the cargo capacity of most of its competitors, and it doesn’t offer much room inside the cabin for your personal items. Towing capacity is decent as long as you get the V6 and the towing package.
The center console is wide and deep, but the door pockets are shallow and narrow. Cutouts in the lower center tunnel offer space for small, thin items. A phone tray in front of the gear selector is useful, and upper trims have wireless device charging. The large glovebox can be locked via a passcode entered on the display.
The Blazer has 64 cubic feet of maximum cargo space (with rear seats folded). Competitors such as the Honda Passport and Hyundai Santa Fe offer much more (the Santa Fe also provides innovative subfloor storage). The Blazer’s liftover height is also tall and less friendly for loading heavy, bulky loads. The optional cargo-rail storage system, however, is useful for tying down items.
Child safety seat accommodation
The LATCH anchors poke out from the base of the rear seatbacks, offering easy access. Plenty of rear-seat room means rear-facing seats will pose no problem for all but the tallest driver (assuming a seat is placed behind the driver). Also handy: The rear seats slide and recline.
Equipped with a V6, all-wheel drive and the optional tow package, the Blazer can tow up to 4,500 pounds. A front-wheel-drive Blazer like our test model is rated up to 1,500 pounds with either a four- or six-cylinder engine.
The Blazer features GM’s latest Infotainment 3 software. Its crisp-looking touchscreen, app functions and cloud connectivity raise the bar for these kinds of systems. Apple and Android functionality is also included, but the native software is fine in its own right. Passengers will appreciate onboard Wi-Fi hotspot.
Audio & navigation
The look and function of the navigation system are impressive. It’s featured fully enough to be a real alternative to Apple and Google apps. This native system is one of the few worth the money if you prefer not to task your phone with navigating. Bose audio system isn’t quite “premium,” but it’s decent. The three-band EQ is nice, but the sound is solidly midrange and can’t get too loud before distorting.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work as you’d expect: quickly and responsively. But the native Infotainment 3 system is good enough to offer three legitimate options for controlling your device.
Our test car came with standard blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, lane change alert and rear parking sensors. The rearview camera creates composite images of the Blazer with several different camera views (top-down, curbside, etc.). This tech is helpful when parking and maneuvering
Standard prompts for placing calls, changing audio selections and choosing navigation destinations respond to clear, deliberate commands. More conversational speech is often met with prompts to repeat, but the basic syntax for most commands is easy and intuitive.