We were without a new vehicle to test once again and out friends at Clark Cadillac/Chevrolet in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where Laurie and I live, bailed us out again by allowing us to test-drive the new (and I mean completely new, redesigned, and made over) Chevy Blazer.
A loooong time ago, I bought a K5 Blazer – bright red, lock in/lock out hubs, four-wheel drive and (for me at least) a monster of a truck. I loved it. I drove it everywhere and wound up using it in my guide service business on the Eastern Shore and in my duck hunting days in Arkansas. When it rolled over the 100K mark, I decided on a second one and bought a new K5 Blazer, which I drove for several years before family concerns with long interstate driving requirements prompted me to trade it in for a Mercedes 300SD (but that’s another story).
When Chevrolet went to the ‘Trailblazer’ model, a smaller subset of the tree climbing K5, moved away from the Chevy line, but not without retaining my love and admiration for the ‘old’ Blazer.
Now my heart can beat rapidly again as Chevy has reintroduced the full-size Blazer, complete with a new look, a new feel, a ferocious looking front (my opinion), and a ride my old Blazers only wish they had. My old K5’s had V8’s that were gas guzzlers, but they could climb a tree, work their way through Louisiana mud gumbo, and drive through blinding snow like there was nothing to it (except stopping, which is difficult for any vehicle in the slick snow. A tree will slow you down, and I stopped driving in snow storms after that). I wouldn’t dream of taking the new Blazer on those kinds of adventures because a. I’m 50 years older than I was then, and b. it is far too good a looking vehicle to wench through the swamp over tree stumps and through branches that might scratch that magnificent paint job. Ah, yes, I have mellowed in my middle age years (70 is the new 40 … okay, 50)
The new Blazer is billed as an SUV Crossover with seating for five. What I wouldn’t have given then for remote vehicle start, driver and front passenger heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a 120 Volt power outlet, leather appointed seat trim, and a power, hands free, lift gate, which are all standard on the 2019 Blazer RS.
Maybe it was my youthful exuberance that makes me look closely at the safety features on today’s vehicles. It certainly could be. Having thought about that the Blazer RS has keyless entry and start, Rear Park Assist, Rear Crossover Traffic Alert, and Lane Change Alert (to warn you if you are drifting) and Side Blind Zone Alert (to warn you if anyone is in your ‘blind spot’ area, whether coming up on you or you changing lanes), all good things to have today.
Our Blazer RS starts at $40.6K, but the model we drove also had the ‘Enhanced Convenience and Driver’s Package for $3575, which included a Rear Camera Mirror (more on that in a minute), a Safety Alert Seat (definitely a few words on this), the Premium Chevrolet Bose based Infotainment System, wireless phone charging (nice), heated rear seats, cooled driver and front passenger seats (really nice in this heat), Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control, Intellibeam headlamps (don’t you love how the car companies make up words? Intellibeam = controlled high beam/low beam), Following Distance Indication (no tailgating, you hear); Forward Collision Alert (really good); Forward Automatic Braking (love it); Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning (good); Front Pedestrian Braking (aka, save a life); HD Surround Vision (cool).
Okay, a minute or two on Rear Camera Mirror and the Safety Alert Seat.
The Rear Camera Mirror is a cool concept. You push the lever in the center of the underside of the mirror as if you, in the old days, were moving from daytime to nighttime reflection. Your review mirror is standard, what we all are used to seeing when we ‘look in our rearview mirror’ – until, you flip the switch, which gives you a 180-degree camera view of what is going on behind you. There is no distortion and it would be the same if you were looking out of the rear window as if you were seated and looking in that direction. It will take some getting used to if you decide to use it. For me, in my peripheral vision is seemed as if I were driving forward and backward at the same time, and I turned it back to regular rear view mirror status. It does give you, however, a very clear high-definition look at everything going on behind you, and I am sure that it will be in vogue soon enough.
The Safety Alert Seat may not be to everyone’s taste in the ‘warning’ department. Having my right or left butt cheek vibrate when I get too close to the center or outside line on the road is unnerving and distracting to me because my first instinct continues to be, “I am being shocked by the seat”, not “What is going on outside the car?” I don’t mind beeps or the car trying to keep itself centered when in cruise control, but a vibrating butt? Sorry, I will pass.
The V6 engine was powerful, and with SIDI (yes, I had to look it up), Spark Ignition Direct Injection, which “optimizes fuel efficiency and driving performance”, you get 20 mpg around town and 26 mpg on the highway for a 22 mpg average. I think that is good for good sized, five passenger vehicle with lots of storage capacity ‘before’ you put the rear seat down. With the rear seat down there is plenty, and I mean plenty of storage space for trips to the landscaper, the dump, the dog groomer, the beach and just about any other excursion you can plan.
Our RS also had the Sun and Wheels package for $2495. That included a power, panoramic sunroof, with sunshade. It opens way back to bring in the sunshine for sure.
With all the options, our $40,600 base jumped to $47,865. BUT, it is a lot of car for the money, and, in my opinion, it checks the boxes for families as well as empty nesters looking for style and practicality around town.
“The New Chevy Blazer – I am a big fan, period!” ~ JOHN WILES
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Tune in to the Thursday, July 25, 2019th Driving Me Crazy radio broadcast “Live” or “On Demand” at 10am EST, or when you have the time and inclination to listen on your schedule. Access the broadcast “Live” and/or “On Demand” using the follow computer access code to listen “Live” or “On Demand” – http://tobtr.com/s/11412113