Carolin Adie was surprised by the 2020 Chevy Blazer. It defied her expectations.
“I was shocked, actually,” the Calgary driver admits. “I figured a Blazer would be kind of bland, but this was definitely far from bland.”
Reintroduced to the Chevrolet line of vehicles in 2019, the Blazer nameplate actually dates back 50 years to 1969, when the automaker first launched a sporty truck-based vehicle to compete with the Ford Bronco. Several iterations followed, some proving extremely popular, but Chevy quit Blazer production in 2005.
Aimed to fit between the larger Traverse and the smaller Equinox in Chevrolet’s current range of SUVs, the newest five-seat midsize Blazer takes some of its design cues from the Camaro. The Blazer has a wide stance, plenty of interesting sheet metal and a rather tall beltline.
“A lot of SUVs seem to have a similar body style,” Adie says. “But, the Blazer had lots of character and I loved the wheels on it, they really helped give it a unique look.”
Adie spent time behind the wheel of the 2020 Blazer RS AWD that comes with larger 20-inch rims Chevy calls “Dark Android”. This particular rig is equipped with a 3.6-litre V6 engine that puts out 308 horsepower through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Depending on the drive mode selected, that can be through just the front wheels or to all four corners — more on that later.
The base Blazer LS, however, features a 193 h.p. 2.5L four-cylinder powerplant, also with a nine-speed automatic, that puts power to the front wheels only. In other models, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is available.
Adie’s RS AWD tester had several options, including the power panoramic sunroof, pearl paint and RS Plus Package that adds niceties such as a Bose premium sound system, memory settings for the driver’s power seat, mirrors and steering column and ventilated front seats. All in, not including taxes, the SUV cost close to $56,000.
The Blazer didn’t disappoint when Adie slid into the driver’s seat, either.
“I was wowed by it,” she says. “But, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, either. The dial controls for the heating and cooling system were large and red and they definitely added to the overall sporty look. All of the materials seemed to be high-end, and there was nothing plasticky about the interior at all.”
She says it took only seconds to get comfortable in the eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat trimmed in leather, while the power tilting and telescoping steering column fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel proved intuitive to manipulate to a setting of her liking.
In fact, all of the controls were intuitive to use, Adie says, and the gauge cluster was highly visible. The centre console, with a long lid to cover the storage bin to the rear, had the gear shift within easy reach alongside a pair of cupholders.
The power panoramic sunroof added $1,695 to the total, but Adie figures it’s worth it.
“It’s so nice to have all of that extra light in the cabin with the shade back,” she says.
Power from the V6 engine didn’t disappoint. Adie drove the Blazer to Banff and up the Mount Norquay road. It never struggled at any time, with plenty of jam to overtake vehicles on the highway. Of the nine-speed automatic transmission, Adie says it was “seamless” and nearly impossible to tell when it was actually shifting gears.
The AWD Blazer is equipped with a rotary driver mode control knob, located just aft of the gear shift lever in the centre console. It offers five positions; Tour places the vehicle in front wheel drive mode; Sport improves handling and acceleration and engages all-wheel drive; AWD puts power to all four wheels when traversing slippery surfaces; Tow/Haul for pulling a heavy load and finally, Off-Road for what GM refers to as ‘off-road recreational driving’.
“I spent the vast majority of time in Tour mode,” Adie confides, but she did place it in Sport mode to test the feature. While it should adjust steering, shifting and suspension settings, Adie couldn’t detect any dramatic changes in performance.
“It rained a lot during my test drive, and sometimes it poured. The traction control was working, and I always felt well connected to the road,” she says. “On gravel or on pavement, I never had any inkling of not being in control. It was confidence-inspiring.”
On the road, Adie says the Blazer was very quiet in the cabin and the overall ride was smooth.
Adie appreciated the rear motion-activated power liftgate and mentioned there was plenty of room in the cargo area with 30.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seat upright and 64.2 with the rear seatbacks folded forward.
“I think the Blazer would best suit a couple or a family of four or five,” Adie adds. “There’s so much room for cargo.”
During her time with the Blazer, Adie was always amused when watching how other people reacted to the SUV.
“People would walk by, stop, and then walk back around it to see what it was, and more than once, I heard a ‘Wow’ from people when they discovered it was a Blazer,” she says.
Overall, Adie says she struggled to make any kind of critical comment about the vehicle, and she didn’t want to give it back at the end of the week.
“It was just a little larger than what I would need for my own use, and it might be a little expensive,” she says, and concludes, “but it was kind of a dream vehicle for me.”
My first impression as I walked up to the Blazer was just how much I liked the look of the vehicle. I was excited to get in and see if the interior was as nice. (I’m happy to report it is.) With a few adjustments, I was in a totally comfortable driving position. I immediately liked the feel, sound and how it handled. I had preconceived ideas of what a Blazer would look and feel like and boy was I wrong. This is a premium vehicle and it felt very much like a luxury brand. The fit and finishes were upscale, and I loved how everything was laid out. We went to The Saskatoon Farm (sorry about the mud), easily fit a host of plants and two Larch trees in it and headed off antique shopping in Okotoks. Found the back seats huge with a lot of leg room. When it was raining the traction control automatically came on and the rain sensing wipers were a bonus. Everything fit me perfectly. The centre console and the door armrest were sized and cushioned for comfort. The seats were very adjustable and provided great support.
Another rainy day so headed off to several local markets. The adjustable cargo rail was a bonus because it kept our purchases in place. It handled very well on the slick roads and through the big puddles.
Road trip! Off to Banff for the day. Up to the Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos, Mount Norquay (the 6km windy road up was really fun to drive), Vermilion Lakes, Bow Falls and into the townsite. It handled fantastic; limited cabin noise, super comfortable and has a lot of power. While at Bow Falls, we heard someone say, “Wow, that’s a 2020 Blazer”. It definitely turns some heads! It was finally a warm sunny day, so we got to try out the ventilated seats and the A/C. No complaints here. The 360-degree camera was great when navigating the parking, too.
Just a quick drive up Deerfoot Trail today. Used the built-in 4G Wi-Fi and wireless charging which worked seamlessly. I find navigating the touchscreen and knob easy and intuitive. All of the safety features are appreciated and reassuring (including the attention-getting vibrating seat notification, which at first was a little shocking). Enjoyed having the massive panoramic sunroof open today.
Another nice sunny day and Bragg Creek was calling. Parked amongst all the other SUV’s, it really stands out. My only comment today is I wish the sun visor had an extension piece on it. I still love the big round vents as they are so easy to adjust both the temperature and the fan speed and you don’t even have to take your eyes off the road. Yet again I caught people stopping and walking around the Blazer to get a better look at it.
I couldn’t resist another trip up Stoney Trail. I tried out all the driver mode options again however I drove in 2WD (Tour) 99 per cent of the time. Despite the V6 engine, I didn’t find the fuel consumption too bad. It has a nice big gas tank which is great for road trips and I appreciate that it takes regular fuel.
Today was the (sad) day I had to hand back the keys. My overall opinion is I love this vehicle. I loved driving it and have to admit I did find myself staring out the window at it … a lot! It really changed my opinion of Chevrolet. I am looking for a new vehicle and if I had a family and needed the space, this would be a vehicle I’d very much consider buying. For me, sadly, it’s just a little too big and it is a little pricey.
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