Introduced in 1969 as a full-size 2-door utility vehicle, the Chevrolet Blazer thrived for three generations as a large off-road-capable truck-based sport ute, and after a 25-year hiatus the Blazer returns. Folks who long for Blazer’s former glory — those nostalgic diehards hoping for a continuation of the boxy, truck-based SUV — may be slightly disappointed, but the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Blazer has been reinvented, rounded and reinvigorated with a thoroughly modern design, a comfortable ride and the latest high-tech features.
Blazer Premier AWD
Our test vehicle was the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Premier AWD. Painted in Midnight Blue Metallic, the vehicle came well equipped with many standard features — the only additional option being a Driver Confidence II Package for a total MSRP of $49,060. Other 5-seat crossovers that compete with Blazer include the Honda Passport, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and Toyota 4Runner.
Although we must admit to being a bit disappointed with the looks of the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer when it first debuted — we were hoping for a more retro look to go with the classic name — this new Chevy crossover can turn heads. The silhouette is about as un-boxy as a crossover could be, thanks to a sloping hood and roofline that flows downward to the rear, terminating at an integrated rear spoiler.
Up front, the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer wears narrow HID headlights with LED running lights that really set it apart from anything else on the road. The Premier’s sculpted hood and bright chrome accents across the grille integrate well with the headlight treatment. At the rear, LED taillights have a unique pattern, and an integrated exhaust and covered tow hitch receiver provide a clean look. The spoiler at the top of the rear window adds a sporty flair.
Inside, the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer’s HD color touchscreen gets nicely integrated with simple but easy-to-use controls. While we would prefer a tuning knob for the radio, at least it has a volume knob. The standard Android Auto integration which works very well, connecting seamlessly every time we returned to the vehicle.
Separate Climate Controls
Thankfully, all climate controls are kept separate. The buttons are small and might be difficult to discern for those with aging eyes, but everything is laid out logically. We especially like the appearance and functionality of the large round vents. The two center vents are also temperature control knobs for the driver and passenger — an excellent example of functionality in a finite space.
Chevrolet has put USB and USB-C ports front and center, as well as a wireless cellphone charging pad in the cubby below, shaped to keep the phone from sliding off the pad during spirited driving. The 2020 Chevrolet Blazer possesses a decent amount of storage space with large cupholders as well as a roomy, covered center console.
Comfortable and Warm
Front seats are both stylish and comfortable. Driving to the Washington Coast on a cold, wet winter day helped us appreciate the automatic heated seats as well as the heated steering wheel.
Spacious Rear Seat
The benefit of a 5-seat configuration really shines from the spacious rear seat. Without the need to make room for a third row, the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer offers rear-seat passengers plenty of legroom, and seats can be reclined for additional comfort. Multiple USB ports in the rear seat also keep passengers back there happy.
Useful Cargo Space
The 2020 Chevrolet Blazer cargo area has generous space, with enough room for multiple suitcases as well as grocery bags and other cargo needed for a few days at the coast. Chevrolet equips the Blazer with a cargo management system that includes a cargo fence as well as tracks that allow the fence to be placed anywhere — a great feature when the space is partially empty and drivers need to prevent cargo from sliding around. The fence is easily removable when not needed.
For those who tailgate at sporting events (or drive-in movies), the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer’s large cargo area would work well. Rear seats can be moved forward to provide a convenient space for taking in the view while staying out of the elements. The high-lift cargo hatch provides a nice rain shelter.
Many SUVs now offer hands-free operation of the cargo hatch, achieved by moving a foot under the rear bumper. However, it can be difficult to discover the sensor’s exact location while balancing on one foot, which can make this task somewhat problematic. Chevrolet brilliantly solves this issue by projecting the bowtie logo onto the ground; simply swipe a foot through the projection and the tailgate opens.
Our Blazer Premier was equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The engine offers plenty of power for cruising on the freeway or quickly passing slower cars on 2-lane roads. The 9-speed transmission shifts smoothly with quick downshifts when needed.
Manual AWD Selector
Unlike some other manufacturers, Chevrolet does not automatically disconnect the rear axle when all-wheel drive is not needed — this has to be performed manually. A centrally-located dial allows easy selection of 2-or 4-wheel drive.
The V6-powered AWD Blazer is EPA rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway; however, the best we saw on the trip computer during our 350-mile drive was about 22 mpg. The extremely wet conditions during our drive created standing water in places, so we selected AWD for much of the trip. However, the trip computer would immediately indicate a drop in fuel economy by a few mpg whenever we engaged AWD.
In wet conditions the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer feels solid and stable. Driving through standing water at highway speeds causes no problems; during our trip we never felt out of control. Overall the ride is comfortable and quiet with very little road noise invading the cabin, and handling is more than adequate when roads get twisty.
On the Washington Coast some beaches are considered state highways, so the public is permitted to drive motor vehicles on certain beaches in designated areas. We had the chance to take the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer out into the sand for a short jaunt in rainy wintry weather. The AWD provided excellent traction with almost no wheelslip under acceleration from a standstill on wet sand. With the traction and stability control engaged, we were also able to take turns at 30 mph in the sand; the Blazer tracked noticeably well, instilling driver confidence in the mushy conditions.
The 2020 Chevrolet Blazer has come a long way since its boxy beginnings 50 years ago, and Chevy has fully embraced the latest in design and technology with this new model. With styling that stands out in a very crowded crossover market, great drivability as well as a comfortable and versatile interior, this new Blazer should be considered a significant option for those in the market for a 5-seat crossover.