Heavy-metal Chevy Blazers bucked and bounced through the ‘70s, wearing their bare-steel interiors and bone-rattling rides with pride.
Most of those K5 Blazers seemed only slightly more sophisticated than a shovel and could likely survive an avalanche.
Heck, if you happened to roll one, you pushed it back onto its wheels and drove away – with a slight wobble. It just added character, but you won’t find many – if any -- of that big truck’s crusty roots in the all-new 2019 model, the first Chevy Blazer since 2005.
In fact, the only rocks the new Blazer will probably traverse will be imbedded smoothly in someone’s winding suburban driveway.
This mid-sized Blazer – maybe the most attractive one yet – appears designed to tackle potholes, rush-hour traffic and jammed parking lots.
Welcome to the strange new, slightly fake world of crossovers.
In fact, my dark-gray 2019 Blazer RS looked sort of like a Camaro up front, could comfortably negotiate moderate-speed corners that would have upended a K5 Blazer and averaged 21 miles per gallon.
Built on a car-like unibody platform shared with the slightly larger new Traverse, the Blazer glared at the world through skinny, extremely horizontal headlamps barely visible below the front edge of the hood.
Beneath them was a large blacked-out grille tucked tightly into the front facade, while a stylized, creased hood brought another touch of tough to the Blazer.
Short overhangs front and rear and a strong character line on top of the fenders kept the trucklet taut, as did dark, 20-inch wheels wrapped with 235/55 tires.
Even in dark gray, it stood out in the sea of mid-size crossovers swamping the U.S. market, a segment where General Motors needs fresh products.
Fortunately, my $48,000, all-wheel-drive Blazer RS mostly lived up to its aggressive packaging.
Powered by GM’s ubiquitous but still salty 3.6-liter V-6, the Blazer actually drove as if it had a bit of Camaro in it – which it did with the V-6.
The Blazer’s version of the lively V-6 is rated at 308-horsepower and delivered its power through a nine-speed automatic.
Smooth and refined with enough torque to push passengers back in their seats, the engine powers the 4,300-pound Blazer to 60 mph in a quick 6.3 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
Moreover, the RS model of the truck gets stiffer shocks and quicker steering, providing decent handling in the tallish, two-ton vehicle.
Like most high-rider crossovers, it leaned in moderate-speed corners, but kept its balance commendably.
Despite the stiffer suspension pieces, the RS offered a firm but compliant ride, stepping over big bumps pretty well and smoothing out considerably at speed.
For better or worse, the Camaro-crossover theme was carried over in the Blazer’s black interior. Fortunately, it looked a tad better in the Blazer.
As is common in some GM interiors, the Blazer’s flat plastic dashboard intersected with the mid-dash at an unimaginative 90-degree angle.
However, it was softened some by an 8-inch display screen rising from mid-dash, as well as round red Camaro-style climate vents and red stitching on the edge of the dash.
Despite its somewhat old-school look, the dash contained rear cross-traffic and blind-zone alerts, along with a lane-change warning. The stereo also had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.
Unfortunately, it had to be tuned with tabs on the mid-dash, a potential distraction.
Most drivers will forgive GM for that once they notice the handy slot on the Blazer’s console for recharging cellphones.
They will probably also like the five-passenger Blazer’s black-leather seats, featuring smooth bolsters with perforated centers in a muted reddish-black material.
In addition, the back seat offered good headroom and excellent leg-room.
My Blazer arrived with $3,575 in options, though GM did not break down what each cost in the window-sticker provided me.
They included a premium Bose audio system; wireless charging; heated rear seats; adaptive cruise control; forward collision alert; forward automatic braking; and front pedestrian braking.
I’d be happy with an interior I could hose out if the floorboards got too muddy. And the new Blazer definitely has some big tire-prints to fill.
I predict it will find its own urban hills to conquer and be pretty successful – particularly if GM can mitigate its puffed-up prices some.
2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS
- What I liked most: The Blazer’s rakish styling and good performance for a crossover.
- What I would change: As always with GM vehicles, the interior needs better materials and less cheap-looking plastic – particularly in models approaching $50,000.
- MSRP: Base price of RS model, $43,500; as equipped, $48,270
- Official color: Nightfall Gray Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 on the highway and 21 mpg combined with filler on the left.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,572 miles.
- Spare tire: Temporary compact.
- Weight: 4,293 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 191.4 inches long/76.7 inches wide/67 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 19.4 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Up to 4,500 pounds.
- 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS in a few words: One of GM’s most complete vehicles and could become a strong performer in the segment if buyers can get past its lofty window-sticker.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.chevrolet.com
- E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Up next: 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee