Mention the names Blazer, or K5, and people often have images of a rugged, off-roading, infinitely customizable, full-size SUV in their mind’s eye. That mental picture was accurate from 1969 through the 1994 model year. Then, in the following years, General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, decided to dilute the Blazer reputation by placing that nameplate on something other than a full-sized vehicle. Things have not been the same since.
The Name Is A Problem
Much like Ford did with the Bronco II, Chevrolet had an S-10 Blazer. It was a smaller version of the full-size Blazer. But, there was also the name, Trailblazer, on the sides of vehicles for a while. Now, there is a Blazer again. But wait, there’s more! There is also another Trailblazer coming.
The name Blazer has been diluted so much that people do not know what one is referring to anymore when the name pops up. What was once a well-defined name and image for decades, has become so washed out that the original full-size, tough, off-roader image is barely identifiable. There is no doubt that the S-10 Blazer, the Trailblazer, and the return of the new Blazer, and the launch of the new Trailblazer are good vehicles in their own right. But, companies do a lot of hard work to build brand recognition. Chevrolet effectively did that for the original beast the first few decades it existed. But then, it seems that Chevy has been hard at work to dismantle what was built by slapping the nameplate willy nilly on things that do not represent the original image. Average consumers and even rabid enthusiasts do not know what to expect anymore.
The new Blazer is not a bland package SUV by any means. The reality is that the old full-size Blazer mission and image were passed on to the Tahoe nameplate. Chevrolet has been doing a good job of building that brand awareness associated with the model. The concern is that the new Blazer is nothing like the old Blazer. So, it should not have been given the moniker. A new name should have been created. Yet, General Motors has a long past of diluting brand images. So, maybe the consumer should not be surprised. After all, the Pontiac LeMans and Chevy Nova names were drastically different when re-incarnated in the late 1980s.
The Blazer now represents a Camaro-like unibody crossover design. It certainly is sporty, and with a V6 engine option, it plays to that sporty image. It produces 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. It moves zero-to-sixty in the six-second range. So, the new Blazer is no slouch. It also has an all-wheel drive option to improve handling in inclement weather situations.
According to Cars.com, the Blazer’s interior has liberal use of materials that seem below its price point. Keep in mind that Chevrolet.com lists the Blazer starting at $28,800. The $50,000 price point or more is not unheard of for the units that are equipped with all the bells and whistles in the Premier trim. Yet, the interior in the base trims has a hard, plasticky feel through the cabin. It gets only a little better with higher trim levels.
Headroom, Visibility, and Cargo Space
The Camaro-ish design makes the Blazer look good. But, the rear headroom takes a hit if the unit is equipped with the panoramic sunroof. It seems rear visibility is also not that great. Edmunds.com advises, “You’ll definitely want to upgrade to at least the 1LT trim with the Convenience and Driver Confidence package to get the blind-spot monitor, which we consider a must-have for the Blazer.” Lastly, Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, and US News and World Report reviewed the Blazer, and all had their qualms about the lack of cargo space. It does not have enough.
In short, the Blazer is a good looking crossover. The aggressive looks are matched with quick motivation when equipped with the V6 engine. That’s why consumers will be attracted to it. Yet, it is an effective package that could have worked with a new name. General Motors did not need to dilute the Blazer brand. This new iteration could have stood up with its own nameplate regardless of the mediocre interior finish and the Blazer’s lack of headroom, rear visibility, and cargo space. Instead, choosing to name it a Blazer, Chevrolet effectively confused the consumer and wiped out what remained of the old brand image.