On The Road

Chevy Blazer stacks up well against Highlander

Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Chevrolet Blazer is the company’s sixth SUV. It comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that boasts 308 horsepower.

The slicing and dicing of the crossover/sport utility vehicle market is a wondrous thing to watch. The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is Chevy’s sixth SUV. That’s right – sixth.

The bowtie boys and girls (check the Chevy logo if that reference escapes you) have found a space of daylight between the compact Equinox and the midsize Traverse, and thus we have the Blazer.

Actually, there’s some fair amount of good sense involved here, because the Blazer does a good job going head-to-head against the Toyota Highlander, a vehicle worth competing against.

Chevy chose to set the Blazer apart from the pack not only with its distinctive name (a two-door SUV based on Chevy’s full-size truck wore that nameplate from 1969 to 1994), but with fairly aggressive styling, inside and out – intended, the company admits, to evoke images of its sporty Camaro coupe.

Why do that? Well, to give some comfort to the men and women whose lives, thanks to children, no longer allow them to simply drive a Camaro. And props to Chevy – it’s not all looks. The Blazer’s 3.6-liter V6 engine makes 308 horsepower, which mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission delivers decent fuel economy (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says 18 city/25 highway). It handles well on the road, too. And the interior – especially the gauge cluster and the controls – appear to be Camaro-inspired.

Price and options

The Blazer starts at $29,995 with a 193-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine; our tester was the Premier AWD version, which comes with a $45,600 price tag.

Beyond the engine and its 115 additional horsepower, the $11,000-plus difference comes from a raft of nice standard equipment. That includes 20-inch aluminum wheels, deep-tinted glass, trailering equipment, power hands-free liftgate, remote vehicle start, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel, perforated leather-appointed trim, Bose Premium infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and its own 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

And, rare for a vehicle from a manufacturer press fleet, this particular tester had no extra-cost options. There are plenty available – you could easily end up with a loaded, top-of-the-line Blazer Premier AWD with a sticker price between $50,000 and $55,000 – but the one we drove for a week rang in at $46,795, which is more than reasonable for the performance and the equipment.

But back to the options, and there’s one that bugs me. Adaptive cruise control – which maintains a distance you set between you and the vehicle in front of you (it slows, you slow; it stops, you stop) – is becoming standard equipment on cars priced in the low $20,000 range. It is, in my view, an essential piece of safety equipment. On the 2019 Chevy Blazer, it’s only available as part of the Driver Confidence II Package, which bundles it with a rear-camera mirror, a safety alert seat (it vibrates to let you know when you’re about to hit something or vice versa) and wireless charging. That costs $2,165.

That’s just wrong, and would probably steer me toward choosing the Toyota Highlander, even though it’s not as fun to drive. But Toyota includes adaptive cruise as standard equipment – even on its lowest trim level, the LE, which starts at $31,830. Hopefully, Chevy sees the problem here and makes adaptive cruise standard for 2020.

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