SUVs have come a long way since the last time I owned one.
I had a pair of 1991 Isuzu Troopers, the old, boxy ones. I especially loved the enormous cargo area.
The ride quality wasn’t great – it felt a little like driving a box truck – but I loved them both. I wish I still had one.
I’m feeling nostalgic about those SUVs because I spent the week driving the new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer, which is nothing like my boxy Troopers.
Chevrolet has reintroduced the Blazer as a midsize SUV crossover. It seats five and has a starting price of $28,800.
The Rally Sport AWD version I tested has a 3.6-liter V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission and a base price of $43,500. My Blazer came equipped with the optional Enhanced Convenience Package and the Driver Confidence Package, which added $3,575, for a sticker price of $47,050. A $1,195 destination charge brings the sticker total to $48,270.
The Blazer sits nicely in the Chevrolet SUV lineup between the smaller Equinox and the larger Traverse. It shares a platform with the GMC Acadia and the Cadillace XT5.
The interior and nose are inspired by the new Camaro. I had more than one person ask if I was driving a Camaro SUV.
It sure looked like it to me, and that’s a good thing.
I’m not a car reviewer. I drive an occasional new vehicle to take a look at the new technology.
I’m a bells and whistles guy who loves nothing more than figuring out what all the buttons do in a new car. I hate having to look things up in the manual.
So if you’re here to read all about horsepower and torque, you may be disappointed. For gearhead reviews, try Car and Driver or Motor Trend.
Tons of technology
The 2019 Blazer RS AWD is full of technology. For the first few days, I constantly found new buttons and settings to explore. There are different trim levels, so not all the features I am mentioning are available on every model.
The center screen is an 8-inch touch display that controls the Blazer’s entertainment and climate systems (although there are separate climate control buttons under the screen).
The audio system has AM/FM/SiriusXM along with Bluetooth so you can pair your phone to play music or make calls. There is also a 3.5mm aux-in port so you can connect an iPod or non-Bluetooth device.
The entertainment system has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I tested CarPlay with my iPhone. You’ll need to connect via USB cable to enable CarPlay. The Blazer has three sets of USB inputs that include a standard USB-A port and the newer USB-C port.
This was the first vehicle I’ve encountered with USB-C.
There are USB ports on the dash below the screen, inside the console storage compartment and even on the back of the console so that back-seat passengers can use it.
The aux-in port is inside the console as well.
The entertainment system also has apps including iHeartRadio and many others if you’d like to stream from the car.
Speaking of streaming, the Blazer is equipped with 4G-LTE, which can provide Wi-Fi for passengers to get online (internet access is an additional cost).
The bottom of the center controls features a storage cubby that houses a wireless charger that was big enough for my iPhone XS Max.
There is also a 120-volt AC outlet for plugging in things that require electricity.
The Blazer has cameras on all sides, which means it can stitch those images together to show you some pretty crazy angles.
You can control the camera views through the main screen, changing the view as needed. All of the angles were helpful, especially to see how centered I was in a parking space.
The rearview mirror also has an embedded screen to show the view out of the rear camera.
The Blazer has a lot of technology I’ve come to love in new vehicles, including forward collision alert and forward automatic braking.
I got to test the automatic braking the first day when the Blazer didn’t think I was going to stop in time when approaching a line of cars at an intersection. The brake was applied automatically, and the vehicle stopped immediately. The Blazer thought I was a bit of a “late-braker.” I adjusted my behavior and there were no more self-braking instances.
It also has adaptive cruise control to help you maintain the gap between you and the car ahead of you if it slows down. Lane keep assist provides steering correction if you start drifting out of your lane without using your blinker.
The Blazer has rear cross traffic alert, which I love. It vibrates your seat if it senses an obstacle (person or vehicle) approaching when you are in reverse.
Along with the rear camera angles, it is very helpful when you’re trying to get out of a tight parking spot.
The Blazer also has GM’s Teen Driver feature to set some monitoring and limits for selected drivers based on their key fobs. And it has OnStar.
The Rally Sport edition of the Blazer has a custom black mesh grill with a black bowtie emblem and black lettering all around. Inside, the black leather is highlighted with red stitching and the air vents have red accent rings.
The large, round vents are brought over from the Camaro. Interestingly, the outer ring of the vents controls the temperature. My wife appreciated the ease of adjustment for her side.
The Rally Sport comes with all-wheel drive, and a dial on the console lets the driver choose from driving modes including two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, sport mode, off-road mode and tow/haul mode.
The Blazer was a lot of fun to drive, and the technology kept the geek in me very engaged.
The car had the fit and finish of a luxury vehicle.
Driving the Blazer was never a chore, and the ride is very comfortable.
The cargo area is big, and the split back seats fold down with the pull of a lever on each side. The automatic tailgate raises and lowers quickly and quietly.
Chevrolet has a nice rail system in the cargo area with a flexible cargo partition you can adjust from front to back to keep boxes or golf clubs from sliding around.
Overall, the Blazer is a great addition to the Chevrolet SUV family, especially if you’re looking for a sportier design.
Pros: Great looks, tons of safety and technology packed inside; great ride.
Cons: Expensive to get all the bells and whistles.
Bottom line: Solid midsize SUV is no dog when it comes to performance.
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