While the SUV world obsesses over the Bronco, Wagoneer and other retro nameplates, there’s been one model out there flying under the radar. That should end, and the Chevrolet Blazer should get attention that it deserves.
As a two-row midsize SUV aimed squarely at the heart of the new car buying demographic — adults over 50 — this is an important vehicle for Chevrolet, and a more compelling SUV than you might have thought.
The Chevrolet Blazer was released in its current generation in 2019. If ever there was an inopportune moment to release a vehicle, the period just before the world locked down for COVID had to be the worst.
Despite this, the Blazer was a smart move for Chevy, giving the brand a competitor to the wildly successful Jeep Grand Cherokee and other two-rows such as the Ford Edge, Toyota Venza and Nissan Murano.
While those SUVs don’t get the magazine covers, they appeal to an important segment — grown-ups who no longer need to haul a soccer team or buy groceries by the ton at the big box store. For this segment, an SUV with reasonable luxury at a reasonable price is attractive, and they have the money to buy it.
In terms of curb appeal, the Blazer doesn’t depart from the successful crossover SUV formula. It’s got enough shape to look sporty and pugnacious but isn’t so wild as to turn off the target buyer. The Blazer doesn’t quite blend in the way the midsize family wagons do, but neither is it a self-conscious statement of wealth or machismo. It’s a nice-looking crossover, suitable for a trip to the mall or the country club.
Because the Blazer does not have to make room for a third row, both the front and back seats offer plenty of space. All the compromises that you have to make to wedge that cramped seat in the cargo area go away. Chevrolet accentuates that with an interior that is modern, comfortable and oriented toward a mature owner.
That means you won’t find a single pane of glass mounted on the dash in a science fiction imagining of the SUV of 2050 or a shifter you need to figure out like a puzzle. The Blazer is a no-nonsense vehicle, but depending on trim level, you will have leather touch surfaces, a heated steering wheel and wireless phone charging. The Blazer interior is well thought out, roomy and easy to live with.
The Blazer comes with two driveline options. The first is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 228 horsepower, mostly installed on lower-cost trims. Our test vehicle came equipped with the engine you want, which is a 3.6-liter V-6 putting out 308 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque.
When we last drove the Blazer, the 4-cylinder felt like it was working too hard, while the V-6 simply offers plenty of power. Both engines are paired with 9-speed automatic transmissions and the buyer’s choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
You’ll sacrifice a couple of mpg to get the V-6, but not a lot. When equipped with AWD, the four-banger gets 27 mpg on the highway, and the V-6 returns 26 mpg. There’s a 3-mpg difference in city driving. Towing is rated at 1,500 pounds without the optional trailering package. When equipped with the trailer package, you can pull 3,250 lbs with the 4-cylinder, or 4,500 with the V-6.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated the 2023 Blazer with its top five-star crash test rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Blazer as “good” in all crash tests, which is as good as it gets. The only ding IIHS has against the Blazer is that the child seat LATCH system is not easy to use. They gave the Blazer an “Acceptable” rating there.
Like all automakers, Chevrolet has a whole package of driver assistance and safety features. Standard equipment on the Blazer includes automatic braking, lane keeping, automatic headlights, and a following distance indicator. Additionally, 360-degree HD cameras, adaptive cruise control, rear camera mirror and other advanced features are available in an option package.
On our test car, the front sensors would sound randomly for no reason, and the blind-spot detection would sound when changing lanes even though the coast was clear; it was sensing cars two lanes away.
A 10-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard on all trims. Higher trim levels include a wireless phone charging pad. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 system is generally easy to use, and in the upper trims comes with GPS Navigation.
The driving experience of the Blazer is where this vehicle really surprised me. I remembered that I wasn’t all that impressed with the Blazer at its launch. It was nice enough, but would it really compete with the Grand Cherokee? The answer now is a resounding yes, with the sole caveat that if you want to go off-road, the Jeep is probably still the right choice.
The Blazer probably could handle some off-road work, but that’s not the intention. This is a nice SUV for urban and suburban living, and probably won’t do more off-road than it takes to get to the ski slopes or the fishing stream.
The V-6 engine and 9-speed transmission provides a well-matched amount of power for the Blazer. It’s not a hot rod, but not a lazy dog, either. The Blazer feels stable and solid on the road, and it’s quieter inside than I remembered. Overall, the Blazer is easy to get along with, and would be a fantastic choice as a year-round commuter vehicle or for a long-distance road trip. If there are just two people in your everyday family, the Blazer can easily be your only vehicle.
2023 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD Specifications
DimensionL: 191.8 inches/W: 76.7 inches/H: 67 inches/Wheelbase: 112.7 inchesWeight4,313 poundsPowertrain3.6-liter V-6 engine; 9-speed automatic transmission, AWDFuel Economy19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/21 mpg combinedPerformance Specs308 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torquePriceBase price: $47,095; As tested: $50,865 including $1,395 destination chargeOn-Sale DateAvailable now
Chevrolet offers the Blazer in four trim levels. The base 2LT starts at $36,495 with front-drive, or $39,195 with AWD. If you want that V-6, you have to bump up one level to 3LT and pay a little more at $41,195 for FWD, or $43,895 with AWD. At that point, you might as well go with the sporty RS trim that we tested. That comes with most of the goodies and stickers at $47,095.
For the same money or a little more, you can get the top Premier trim, but that’s mostly just visual stuff like a chrome grille. All trims carry a $1,395 destination fee, but Chevrolet is also offering incentives, so talk to your dealer.
We don’t think you can do a lot better than the RS trim, even though it’s more than $10,000 over the cheapest possible Blazer. With this trim you get almost all the good stuff, including the AWD, V-6, and most of the tech. There’s an additional Driver Confidence II package at $1,375 which gets you the camera mirror, adaptive cruise, and 360-degree camera system, as well as an upgrade to the emergency automatic braking. That’s the main option package you’ll want.
In all, our test Blazer came out at $50,865, which is a healthy price, but you also get a lot for your money. When you compare it to the direct competitors, the Blazer is right in the big part of the bell curve on price, and substantially less than the premium brands with the same features.
2023 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Chevrolet Blazer reliable?
The 2023 Chevrolet Blazer has a J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 86 out of 100. A score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average and 0-69 is considered below average.
Is the Blazer bigger than the Equinox?
The Blazer is bigger and slightly more spacious than the Equinox.
How long does a Chevrolet Blazer last?
A well-maintained 2020 Chevy Blazer can last around 250,000 miles.