2019 Chevy Blazer RS AWD Review | Lots of style, not value
The two-row midsize crossover segment has been neglected for a few years, but the crossover craze has started churning new entries out again. The 2019 Chevy Blazer is GM’s take on the vehicle, and it’s already getting lots of attention thanks to its bold, angular design. And none are bolder or more angular than the sporty Blazer RS. We gave it a cool reception in our first drive, but we wanted another, longer test here at our Michigan headquarters to see if the new Blazer makes a better case for itself. Does it drive as good as it looks, and can it support its mega-sized price?
We should get that elephant of a price out of the room before we go any farther. The Blazer RS starts at $ 44,695, which even disregarding the competition, is a significant figure since you can get a Blazer with the same 3.6-liter V6 for as little as $ 34,495. The extra $ 10,000 gets you more aggressive body extensions, lots of black trim, 20-inch wheels and a black leather interior with red accents. It also brings a torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, heated front seats and steering wheel, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, power-adjustable passenger seat, ambient lighting, auto-dimming mirror, navigation, blind-spot monitoring and remote start. Ah, but it doesn’t stop there.
Our tester also came with the $ 3,575 Enhanced Convenience and Driver Confidence II Package that added adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, driver memory settings, rearview camera mirror display, heated rear seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, lane-keeping assist, surround-view camera and a Bose sound system. It also had the $ 2,495 Sun and Wheels Package that adds a panoramic sunroof and 21-inch wheels. That’s a lot of equipment, but its total price of $ 50,765 is a lot of money that could buy you a well-optioned Mercedes GLC-Class or BMW X3. To put it another way, it’s also $ 6,000 more than the loaded Honda Passport Elite we recently tested.
So is it all worth it? Well it certainly delivers on the styling front. Our test car’s bright gloss red pops against the RS trim’s black accents. The deeper front air dam and more sculpted side skirts amplify the creased and curved exterior even more than the regular model. It’s a ferocious beast of a crossover from the outside, and it gets attention. While it sat in our office parking lot, someone came over to compliment the giant wheels, color and shape. That’s expected when we have a cool sports car; it’s practically unheard of in a family crossover.
Inside, Chevy commendably tried to make the Blazer as stylish as the exterior, but it isn’t as successful. It leans heavily on the Camaro stylistically, boasting similarly huge vents with bold red trim rings that are exclusive to the RS. The seats are perforated black leather with red accents in the perforations, piping and stitching. Many of the dash and door surfaces are covered in a leatherette material. It’s a sporty effect, and the leather and leatherette surfaces do give it a more premium feel, but there are still large sections of cheap, hard plastic around the center vents and the glove box, and everything still has a monochrome, chunky feel that just doesn’t feel upscale. That’s an issue when in the $ 50,000 price bracket.
The Blazer is on-par with most of the competition as far as passenger space is concerned, which means it feels spacious with plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder room. The back seat has plenty of space for your 5-foot-10 author to sit behind himself. Backseat passengers will also be pleased by the sliding and reclining adjustments. While there’s plenty of room, there’s a lack of support. They’re basically boards with firm foam over them. It likely wouldn’t be comfortable on a long drive, and when driving enthusiastically, I was sliding right out of the seats.
Cargo space is among the smallest in its class at 30.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 64.2 with the rear seats folded. We go into more detail about it in the video below.
Behind the wheel, the Blazer RS is competent but unexceptional. It features GM’s 3.6-liter 305-horsepower V6. In previous applications, we’ve appreciated this engine’s strong power and eagerness to rev. But the Blazer RS weighs 4,253 pounds, so the performance only feels adequate, and with the power coming at higher rpm, it feels like it’s struggling more than its power numbers would suggest. Perhaps a turbocharged engine with more torque would be a better choice for the Blazer. Still, the engine it has is very smooth with a good tone, and the nine-speed transmission is silky and prompt in its shifting. The V6 is also an undoubtedly better choice than the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four standard on the L and 1LT trim levels, even though that engine is not the doggedly slow lump we were expecting.
The ride and handling continue the theme of basic competence. The Blazer will corner fairly quickly with moderate body roll. It feels very stable and composed doing so. But the steering is devoid of feeling and precision, and it feels unenthusiastic about entering a corner, despite being good about finishing one. There’s a surprising amount of road and wind noise, and the ride is also on the firm side for the segment, especially with the RS’ available 21-inch wheels. We didn’t find it as tiresome back in Michigan as we did during the first drive in San Diego, but would still advise trying a Blazer with smaller wheels before signing on the dotted line.
Overall, the Blazer is a perfectly acceptable crossover, but the RS still doesn’t live up to expectations. Its aggressive, Camaro-inspired styling promises an exciting drive, but it just doesn’t go far enough beyond the typical family hauler. Meanwhile, its $ 50,000 price puts it in competition with crossovers from Audi, Mercedes, BMW and even GM’s own Cadillac, but we get a Chevy cabin that’s no nicer than a Honda or a Mazda — if even a bit worse. Perhaps a less expensive Blazer would make more sense than the sharp-looking RS, but considering that no trim offers compelling value, we suggest you cross-shop the segment before buying one of these pricey showboats.