It’s not always easy being the middle child, as the 2022 Chevrolet Blazer can attest.
In size and price, it sits between the smaller Equinox and three-row Traverse, both of which usually outsell it. But the Blazer has points in its favour, especially its driving performance, and shoppers should give it a closer look.
It comes in four trim levels, starting with a base four-cylinder LT in front-wheel drive (FWD). I had the LT with its optional V6 and all-wheel drive (AWD), starting at $42,893 including a non-negotiable delivery charge of $1,900. My tester was further equipped with packages and stand-alone options that brought it to $46,603 before taxes.
Perhaps the Blazer being overlooked could have something to do with the styling. The vehicle is handsome enough but does little to stand out from the crowd. My tester added a Redline Edition package, and while taste is subjective, I’d definitely have kept the $1,495 it costs in my wallet instead. It blacks out the grille, door handles, mirrors, and window surround, and includes 20-inch gloss-black wheels with goofy red stripes on them.
The interior is sharper looking, and borrows a few design cues from the Camaro sports car, including its infotainment screen tucked into the dash, and large round air vents with bezels that are actually the temperature dials.
The Blazer gets a top five-star crash rating from the United States National Highway Traffic Institute (NHTSA). It also gets the top “Good” crash rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but misses being a Top Safety Pick because of its headlight performance.
The base LT trim includes emergency front braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, a rear-seat reminder, and OnStar connected services, along with the rearview camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is optional on the LT, as part of the LT Plus Package for $1,595, but is standard on all other trims.
The base LT includes items such as 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic high-beam control, an eight-way power driver’s seat, eight-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated seats – although that last feature was missing from my tester due to microchip shortages, with a cash discount for now and future retrofitting when the chip supply ramps back up.
The LT Plus Package added a power tailgate, integrated garage door opener, roof rails, blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming mirrors, and rear parking sensors – that last one also a retrofit when chips are available. The LT’s standard four-cylinder was also swapped for a V6 in this tester for $595.
If you’re going the V6 route, you might want to look at the next-step-up True North. It comes only with the six-cylinder, has all of the LT Plus features, and for $1,410 more than a V6 LT Plus, you also get floor and cargo liners, six-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped wheel.
User Friendliness: 7.5/10
The Blazer’s centre stack manages to look uncluttered while still maintaining buttons and dials for most functions. However, most of the climate control buttons are small, and if you sit high in the driver’s seat – as I do because I’m short – they can be hard to see because they’re under a lip in the dash. But the Camaro-style vents are brilliant, as they’re easy to adjust even with gloves on; you simply turn their bezels to adjust the temperature.
It’s easy to get in and out, thanks to wide-opening doors and a fairly low sill, but cargo access isn’t quite as simple, with a smaller hatch opening and high liftover. It isn’t impossible, of course, but some competitors do a much better job.
Along with the liftover into the cargo compartment, its 864 L of space with the rear seats up is smaller than many competitors, where the Ford Edge offers 1,110 L, and the Honda Passport gives you 1,166 L. The Blazer’s back seats fold flat to carry longer cargo, but competitors still have the edge for that capacity as well. Should it not be enough space, the Blazer has a maximum towing capacity between 680 and 2,041 kg (1,500–4,500 lb), depending on the trim and engine.
Up front, the Blazer offers small-item storage in an open cubby and covered console box. The glovebox opens electrically with a button, but it isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel when a simple mechanical handle does the job and without the complication of a switch and wiring.
The Blazer has a bit less legroom than some of its rivals, and its headroom gets tighter in the rear seat; less headspace back there than the Edge and Passport, for example, but marginally more than the Hyundai Santa Fe.
The seats are supportive and stay comfortable on longer drives, and they’re clad in cloth in the LT trims, and in leather in the upper ones. The ride is smooth and the cabin is fairly quiet, and overall, it’s a pleasant place to be.
The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, making 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s the only choice in the LT FWD, and the standard powerplant in the LT AWD.
For an extra $595, my LT AWD was optioned with the 3.6L V6 that’s standard with all other trims. It makes 308 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and it would be my choice for its smooth strength, as well as the simplicity of a non-turbo engine over long-term ownership. Both engines use a smooth-shifting, nine-speed automatic transmission.
The AWD runs primarily in front-wheel drive but transfers power to the rear as needed for more traction. The upper trims get a more sophisticated system that can also transfer power between the left and right rear wheels as required. The system is selectable, and you can leave it in front-wheel for better fuel economy if you prefer, although I’m more inclined to leave it on and let the system figure it out should I hit a wet or slippery patch and need more traction.
Driving Feel: 9/10
The Blazer’s driving performance is the standout here. The steering is smooth, the vehicle is responsive, the turning circle is tight, and the transmission always finds the right gear, even on inclines, without any of the gear-hunting that these multi-speed units can sometimes do when they’re suddenly faced with an uphill climb.
This sport-ute tackles corners with a minimum of body roll, brakes straight and smoothly, and while it’s not a low-slung sports car, it handles curvy roads with the same confidence as it does a straight highway run. If anything’s going to win you over into the Blazer camp, it’s the way it drives.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
The Blazer with 3.6V and AWD is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 12.6 L/100 km in the city, 9.2 on the highway, and 11.0 in combined driving. In my week with it, in cold weather, I averaged 12.9 L/100 km.
Should you opt for the four-cylinder, it’s rated at a combined 9.9 L/100 km in AWD. The Blazer isn’t an exceptional fuel-saver, but it’s about average with its peers. The Ford Edge rates a combined 10.1 L/100 km with its 2.0L engine, and 11.2 with a 2.7L, while the Honda Pilot’s 3.5L V6 is 11.0 L/100 km. The Hyundai Santa Fe rates as low as 9.9 L/100 km with its conventional gasoline engines, but is also available as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.
The Blazer starts at $39,398 in its single FWD trim level, including freight, and at $42,298 in AWD, running up to $49,498 before options. The upper trims can feel pricey, but overall, the Blazer is pretty much in line with some of its competition. All with all-wheel drive, the Hyundai Sante Fe runs between $35,964 and $49,854; the Ford Edge between $39,774 and $52,844; and the Honda Passport trims range from $47,270 to $53,870, all with freight charges included.
The Chevrolet Blazer doesn’t generate quite the same sales numbers as its Equinox and Traverse siblings, but it’s worthy of a look. It’s smaller inside than some of its competition, but if you don’t need the extra space, it has a lot going for it, including driving performance that really stands out in the segment. It’s definitely worth a test-drive.
|Peak Horsepower||308 hp @ 6,700 rpm|
|Peak Torque||270 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.6 / 9.2 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||864 / 1,818 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2022 Chevrolet Blazer LT AWD|
|Price as Tested||$46,703|
$4,305 – 3.6L V6 engine, $595; Engine block heater, $195; Interior protection package, $425; Blazer LT Plus Package of auto-dimming mirrors, garage door opener, power liftgate, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist and roof rails, $1,595; Redline Edition of 20-inch wheels with red accents, black grille, mirror caps, door handles and decals, $1,495