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Hooniversal Opinion: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Design

Robby DeGraff June 26, 2018 Featured, Hooniversal Opinion 25 Comments

“The Blazer is back!” were the words I saw flying across the Twitterverse late yesterday evening. I was ecstatic to read this, cuing up vivid dreams of a newfound rebirth of the truck-based Blazer I had grown up with, coming back from the dead. Would we see a new, small 4×4 in the Chevy lineup to potentially compete with Ford’s upcoming Bronco? Would we see a boxy, body-on-frame small SUV with aggressive styling paying tribute to the old Blazers we’ve all grown up with? You know, the ones that pulled ice shanties out onto frozen lakes in February, hauled your family up muddy two-track roads to the cabin on weekends? The Blazer that plowed through farm fields hauling equipment around  or had the rad ZR2 off-road package with knobby tires and that rear tire slapped on its liftgate?

That’s the Blazer that sticks out in my mind and the Blazer we all were hoping for. But nope, that’s nowhere near what was revealed last night, because there’s a new crossover in the Chevrolet’s lineup to join the Equinox, Trax, Traverse…I feel like by the time this post gets published, another crossover will probably bow wearing the nameplate “Bel Air,” “Monza,” or “Avalanche.” God I hope not.

We haven’t seen a new Blazer since the 2005 model year, and the new one will sell in dealerships as a unibody crossover that fits in between the Equinox and larger Traverse. Pricing for the Equinox currently ranges from $23,800 all the way up to $35,600, while the Traverse starts at $29,930 and can be fully built to just shy of $53,000. Let that number sink in for a hot sec.

Power will come from a standard 193 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower. The latter powertrain would be awesome in some kind of an off-road-oriented trim like the old grungy Blazer ZR2, but good luck accomplishing that in this concrete-bound crossover. All Blazers get a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive is standard. There will be optional all-wheel-drive but it won’t that old-school four-wheel-drive system with a manual transfer case we had hoped for. I’m curious to see if the 1.6-liter turbo-diesel in the Equinox hops over to the new Blazer.

I’m mixed on the appearance of this CUV. The front looks like a Camaro, I see tons of Lexus NX in the side sculpting and C-pillar, and then the rear looks too similar to the bowtie’s Equinox and Traverse. The interior is typical GM, and it truthfully doesn’t look horrible. Ugh, I’m starting to lose faith in new car design though. Ford, please give us the Bronco we really want. Let’s gather around the round table and poll the other members of the Hooniverse editorial staff on their thoughts.

Chevy has thrown a ZL1 Camaro grille on a Lexus NX and built an abomination of a vehicle that not only looks like another attempt to pass off a front-drive CUV as a “sports vehicle” but that in the process simultaneously shits on the storied Blazer name that it fails to do justice to. There’s really nothing positive I can say about this new Blazer; it’s wrong-wheel-drive, it looks like the design was thrown together in an attempt to be “young” and “sporty” and a “Camaro for those who need a CUV” without having any Camaro in it whatsoever, it uses mundane engines, and it takes a name once synonymous with 4WD off-road truckiness in an attempt to use history and nostalgia to sell to those who remember the true Blazers of yore. I don’t expect it to drive all that well, and it trades style for usability. Swing and a miss.

But what frustrates me most about this is the horrible misuse of the Blazer name and the way in which Chevy seems to be completely missing the point on this. Yes, they sell the ZR2, and that’s great. But Ford is bringing back the Bronco, and they’re building Raptor versions of both a Ranger and F-150. Jeep is doing fantastic things with the new JL Wrangler, and even companies the likes of Range Rover are pushing the off-road limits for what a CUV/SUV can do on passenger tires. But Chevy? They take a name once used on true, honest four-by-fours and put it on a car that in no way matches the name’s history, and that doesn’t even have the credentials to be good at its intended purpose. Scratch that, its intended purpose is to sell. And it probably will. But that’s a sad thing; it’s like putting Bronco on a Mustang-grilled Escape. Hopefully at least Ford gets that part right, because Chevy missed the mark with this one. Big time.
-Ross

Is passenger car design really so stagnant that the only “distinctive” looks left lie so far beyond the realm of “attractive?” For some reason the new Blazer seems very much like the 4-wheel equivalent of 1980s Yamaha design language. Angles, if they’re big enough and numerous enough and random enough, fix everything!
-Peter

Yo! GM! I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but small body-on-frame SUVs are selling in higher numbers than this made-for-a-rental agency ever will. Look at the Jeep Wrangler that’s pushing 200,000 units annually. Look at the 4Runner that’s selling at over 100,000 despite being dated AF. Ford and possibly Nissan are getting in on this action, too. People want these things. But here you are, GM, with the same thinking that sunk you ten years ago. You bring another one of exactly the same cars to a market that’s already overwhelmed with the same cars. 

Enclave, Acadia, Envision, Terrain, Encore, Traverse, Equinox, Trax… They are all the same effing cars with different amount of seats and trunk space!!!

And I got more news for you. Do you know why Toyota sells a billion RAV4s, and Honda a billion CR-Vs, and Nissan a billion Rouges? It’s because they are an established models that are known for being solid, if boring AF. But even with the Blazer name, you ain’t got that, GM. You made another version of the cars you already have! With it you are taking an iconic name and killing it in some hopes of increased sales of the same effing thing! Congrats!

-Kamil

Thanks, Chevrolet. I hate it.

It’s another cookie cutter crossover but this one is supposed to be sporty. They do that will all sorts of angles and stuff which make it look kind of like a Camaro… a Camaro that gets a gym membership on New Year’s Day and never uses it. Whether it can live up to the name and actually be different than the other million crossovers in its class will determine whether or not I continue to devote brain cells to this. Coming up with a ZR2 variant will help out with that, but I’m not holding my breath. They’ll just stock RS models on dealer lots and let it outsell the Camaro 4 to 1.

-Greg

While I led the charge on dunking on the new Camaro, a Camaro that shares the face of this new Blazer, I find that this doesn’t bother me as much as it does my fellow editors. It’s so interesting to me what gets a pass and what gets shredded. I think because I have no attachment to ANY Chevy SUV, or any Blazer, I find this inoffensive. It seems like they took a lot of cues from the Camaro, but while I hate those changes on the Pony car, I think they look neat here. The red and black model shown off looks sharp and aggressive, but is in line with how sharp the Ford equivalents have gotten. I don’t hate it! It’s not boring, and I think that was the sin of the previous gen of crossovers. The less flashy base model is heinous and boring though. I don’t know, I think it’s fine, while I hated the Camaro with a passion. It’s almost like you shouldn’t pick one design style and apply it to your whole line, because that’s how you get big hits and big misses.
-Patrick

The K5 Blazer was a proper off roader. The S10 Blazer was one of the original daily-driver SUVs, along with the Ford Bronco II/Explorer and Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Following that trajectory, it makes perfect sense for the new Blazer to be a crossover. I don’t like that the proper SUVs have been dumbed down for the mass market, but it makes sense in light of current trends.
-Brad

Now you’ve heard it from the industry’s best, least opinionated, and genuinely thoughtful professionals. What are your thoughts? Will the new Blazer blaze ahead?

  • needthatcar

    New cars just keep getting uglier and same-er. Nissan has perfected the art of ridiculous, non-congruous lines and unnecesary garbage, but Chevy and the rest seem to be on the same track. How can such gawdy design be so universal?

    • wunno sev

      Ford has stood alone amongst non-luxury brands for making a design language that’s contemporary without being overdone. maybe I’d give #2 to Kia. Toyota gets the Golden Raspberry for worst styling.

      I definitely miss the clean lines and simple styling of 80s and 90s cars, but it would be absurd for a carmaker to come out with something looking like a 98 Civic in 2018.

    • Smaglik

      Aerodynamics

      • Zentropy

        You might think, but a 2018 CR-V has a drag coefficient of 0.35. A 1988 Civic Hatchback? 0.33. Cars don’t have to look this stupid.

  • P161911

    I was hoping for a body on frame RWD SUV, but no luck. As the former owner of a K-5 Blazer and a Trailblazer, I don’t have it. I think it looks better than the Traverse. I loved by old K-5 Blazer and put many rough miles on it in college. The Trailblazer was the first new vehicle that I ever bought. It went over 165k miles with only minor issues for the most part. A good solid truck with a surprising amount of room and grunt from the I-6. There is a good chance that our next new family vehicle will be another SUV (currently getting along with a Volt and extended cab Silverado). If I can’t talk the wife into a Alfa Romeo Stelvio with a huge extended warranty, there is a good chance we will be looking at a mid-size GM SUV. Wife gets the GM family discount, her grandfather and uncle retired from GM. There is also a good chance that a Blazer will be right up there with the Traverse in our choices. Just so long as no major components are made in China. As an engineer who has had to deal with Chinese suppliers, I am VERY suspect of anything complicated made in China. I know for a while the Equinox had a made in China engine, and I never heard anything good about those. As a Volt owner, I just want to know when the plug in hybrid version is coming. If I’m going to have to buy an appliance, it damn well better have a cord!

  • GTXcellent

    I hate this new Blazer so, so much – Everything about this abomination just makes me seethe with rage. Seriously, I wonder if I need to seek medical treatment?

    But what would I know, I mean it’s not like I just gave a vehicle manufacturer a huge amount of money for a true 4 wheel drive, BOF, manual transmission, SUV…oh wait, I guess I did

  • outback_ute

    The silver non RS version looks like one of the ‘unfortunate’ mutated creatirec from a scifi movie that ends up dying horribly. It really shows where the real headlights are, that are disguised as fog lamps in the RS.

    Plus there is a rear window that is only useful for seeing if there are cars behind you on the highway, otherwise they might as well have left it out completely.

    Finally how can you build a car in this era without a turbo DI engine and expect to be competitive?

    • ptschett

      Oh gosh, that is where the real headlights are. So brave for GM to adopt a light layout like the current Jeep Cherokee that’s abandoning that layout for the 2019 model.
      Night driving is gonna be fun in 20 years when these are bombing around in the hands of 3rd/4th owners with various degrees of un-repaired & not-worth-repairing crash damage to the headlight mounting structure.

      • outback_ute

        Well I must admit I am making an assumption, but it certainly looks that way.

  • Maymar

    It’s awful, but mostly, I’m just bothered by the placement of the B L A Z E R badges on the doors (looks too high).

    • Ross Ballot

      Oh god, I didn’t even notice that before. Now I can’t unsee it. It’s *awful*.

    • outback_ute

      Right above where the rub strip would be?

  • neight428

    They should have called it the Le Mans and by doing so, given a tip of the cap to the only people that care.

    • ptschett

      #triggered

    • Alff

      The Blazer LeMans edition will be a hybrid with CVT

  • I’m fine with everything until you get to the driver’s door shut line. Everything after that is pretty abysmal.

    I’m generally okay with it otherwise. GM may have whored out the Blazer name in a barely excusable manner, but it’s not as if they were every going to do anything more worthwhile with it. Ultimately, before long, it’ll have faded into white noise with all the other SUVs.

  • Citric

    First, I don’t get the grousing over the Blazer name. The majority of Blazers were soccer mom specials just like this. You COULD get a real off roader out of one, but most of them were mediocre grocery getters. I guess other people remember cool K5 Blazers, I remember rusty S10-based ones with beige body cladding carrying milk from the store.

    Second, the more annoying thing is GM already makes the Brazilian Trailblazer, which would actually make sense as a distinct model rather than this odd splitting hairs between the Equinox and Traverse. And since that is basically a Colorado already, it would take almost no work to get it certified for sale here. Why spend a pile of money engineering something new when you’ve got something already that will, at a minimum, return whatever investment they make in it fairly quickly? Even if the market for a true body on frame SUV is small, it would be profitable.

    • Zentropy

      Your point has some merit, but despite their capability, most Wranglers I see are kid haulers, or else jacked-up, angry-eyed beasts that LOOK off-road aggressive but in reality only go off-road when the soccer tournament parking lot is full. A vehicle is only what the owner makes of it. The point is that the Blazer WAS a legitimately capable SUV (as was the Bronco), but this new one is an image-focused crossover.

      Now, your comment about the Trailblazer from Brazil is spot-on. Chevy could bring in the Trailblazer from South America as the new Traverse, and attach the Equinox name to this new “Blazer” abomination. Problem solved.

  • Fuhrman16

    I feel the fact that they called this a Blazer is the least offensive thing about this car. It is a bit of a shame that Chevy is using a storied nameplate on something mundane, but really, this hasn’t been the first time.
    But the styling, good god, what were they thinking? It’s a mess of angles, those stupid, angry squinting headlights, and what is up with that D/C pillar? Enough already. Can we go back to proper automotive design?
    Also, is there really that much of a market for a CUV sized between the Equinox and the Traverse that this needs to even exist?

  • ptschett

    I’m still good with my “2045 Camaro” take. Tempted to amend it to “2045 Camaro full-autonomous battery-electric vehicle” just to make it that much more awful because lol nothing matters

  • 0A5599

    In my world, the new Blazer would be somewhere between the Jeep Scrambler that FCA hasn’t had the balls to bring back yet, and the H3T Alpha that was stillborn with the death of Hummer. Give it real 4wd capabilities, make it narrower than a full sized truck, but leave room for two adults, two kids, a dog, and a weekend’s worth of camping gear.

    Under the hood motivation should be a high tech V6 with a turbo, blower, or a 4 banger with both. In $40k configuration, you get a hose-out interior, but soccer moms can easily option it up to $60 grand.

    What GM has instead decided to announce as the new Blazer should have been designated the Ranier; you know, the crossover with its claim to fame being all the best parts of Aztek, minus the hideous cladding.

  • Alff

    Not relevant to my interests… but only a handful of new vehicles are. This is a concerted effort to wean old guys like me off of vehicles altogether so we don’t become mad bombers when the motor law passes. That’s why I keep my old barchetta.

  • SoldierofaDifferentStripe

    Bought a ’75 Blazer in early ’76. Did my best to kill it over the next 4 years, while stationed at Ft Hood, TX. Had to leave it when Uncle Sam needed my services in West Germany.
    Somehow I just don’t see this new one being ready to take what that old one charged through.

  • smalleyxb122

    With the plethora of CUVs in Chevrolet’s own lineup, let alone all of GM or the entire new vehicle market, this new Blazer is entirely unnecessary. It’s fine. It’ll sell. I’m not sure it will equate to more total sales for GM, though. There are already enough CUVs for CUV buyers. Anyone who will buy this, would have just bought a different one. I would have preferred something with the Blazer name to have more off-road credentials and a higher tow rating, but that’s really separate from the name. I’d just like more options for a “proper” (read: truck-based) midsize SUV, and the Blazer name would have been well suited to such a vehicle.

    Real off-roading and/or the need to haul an open car trailer is a much smaller part of the SUV market than the need to haul progeny. The new Blazer is fine. It’s just depressing.

  • Matthew Edwards

    This new “Blazer” has all the appeal of a Yugo combined with all the offroad prowess of a Prius with a flat tire.