Hooniversal Opinion: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer Design

“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.

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!
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!

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.

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.

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.
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?

By |2018-06-26T08:00:20+00:00June 26th, 2018|Featured, Hooniversal Opinion|25 Comments

About the Author:

By day, Robby DeGraff is an Industry Analyst for an automotive market research and product-consulting firm. Based an hour from Road America in Wisconsin, he once piloted a Suzuki Jimny around Iceland for two weeks alone. Robby still has his first car: a red 2001 Camaro, his second Saabaru, and a 1981 Honda CB650. He dreams of owning a first-generation Aston Martin Vanquish or Volkswagen Vanagon.