ATLANTA – General Motors reveals the 5-passenger ’19 Chevy Blazer, yet another crossover for the automaker’s volume brand to slot between the midsize Equinox and Traverse large CUVs with hopes of drawing a younger, more affluent customer than its stablemates.
“We think we’ve got the right vehicle for the right people,” says Alan Batey, president-GM North America. “It’s not three rows, it’s not a family hauler…We wanted an expressive design. That’s why they buy these 2-row (CUVs) and we think we’ve nailed it.”
The Blazer targets buyers of competitive vehicles such as the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and segment-dominating Jeep Grand Cherokee. In that respect, it fills a big hole in Chevy’s CUV lineup.
It slips between the more value-oriented Equinox and family-focused Traverse, a pair of newly redesigned vehicles drawing customers by the droves as the entire market continues to favor the higher-ride and rugged looks those products offer.
Batey says the Traverse sells the moment it hits dealer lots, while the Equinox is the second-best-seller at Chevy behind the Silverado large pickup. Chevy’s CUV lineup also consists of the tiny Trax, a solid seller at the lower end of the market, and the breakthrough Bolt battery-electric vehicle. The big Tahoe and Suburban body-on-frame SUVs satisfy customers demanding severe towing and hauling capabilities.
The longtime GM executive says the addition of the Blazer should round out the Chevy crossover lineup – for the near future, at least.
“With this addition, we’re going to have the widest range of SUVs and crossovers,” he tells WardsAuto after the unveiling here to journalists and local dealers. “We’ll continue to look at opportunities, but I would say we have all the avenues covered now.”
Pricing will be announced closer to the Blazer’s launch in early 2019, but with a clear focus on high-end Premier and RS models in a market hungry for CUVs GM likely will exercise pricing power. There will be only one other model, an entry-level Blazer.
“First and foremost, this is a design-oriented product,” says Steve Majoros, GM’s marketing chief for Chevy cars and crossovers. “The beauty of these customers is they are not use-case defined. The Traverse customer wants three rows of functionality. The Equinox customer are box-checkers: safety, fuel economy function.
“(Blazer buyers) have much higher personal income, a more well-heeled customer who says, ‘I kinda deserve this,’” he says.
For older buyers, the Blazer name may recall a rugged body-on-frame SUV GM sold for 30 years between the late 1960s and 1990s, and this unibody model may disappoint those seeking more off-road capability. But Batey says that simply is not today’s market.
“It’s a different time and we tried not to get stuck in heritage and really deliver a Blazer for today and tomorrow,” he says.
Key elements of the Blazer include a bold grille and huskier proportions than the Equinox or Traverse; 64.2 cu.-ft. (1,818 L) of potential cargo space; a sliding second row that also reclines; a new, optional cargo management system for the brand with a rail and fences for holding gear; an available panoramic dual-pane power sunroof; and a suite of available active safety features.
Power will come from a standard 2.5L 4-cyl. with 193 hp and 188 lb.-ft. (255 Nm) of torque, and an optional 3.6L V-6 making 305 hp and 269 lb.-ft. (365 Nm). Both engines feature gasoline direct injection and stop/start. They are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and GM’s newly released, twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system will be available.
The Blazer will tow a maximum 4,500 lbs. (2,041 kg) when equipped with the V-6, and an optional rearview camera system helps the driver align the hitch and trailer.
The Blazer is as wide as the Cadillac XT5, with which it shares a platform, but the track was pushed out 2 ins. (51 mm). It is as tall as its Equinox little brother, too, so it has a pushed-down/pushed-out stance.
Sources tell WardsAuto the platform tinkering required several expensive suspension revisions, but the cost was greenlighted to achieve the project’s goals. It also receives a quicker steering ratio to improve driving dynamics.
The Blazer will be built in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.