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Pre-Owned Profile: 1988-1994 Chevrolet S10 Blazer

The original compact SUV has stayed surprisingly fresh.

See all Chevrolet S-10 Blazer articles
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by John Rettie December 1998

Those of you with good memories will remember that, until recently, Chevrolet's large sport-utility vehicle was called the Blazer. When Chevrolet introduced its smaller SUV in 1983, it chose the name Blazer again -- only this time it dubbed the new truck the S10 Blazer. (Chevy did so because the new trucklet was based on the compact S10 pickup instead of the large C/K pickup, which formed the basis of the full-size Blazer.) Eventually, to avoid confusion Chevrolet renamed the full-size Blazer the Tahoe, and kept the Blazer name for the compact SUV in 1995.

Until 1988 the S10 Blazer was underpowered, as it came standard with a four-cylinder engine. That engine was replaced by a V-6 that made the vehicle much more palatable to drive. In the early 1990s the S10 Blazer began to show signs of its age as newcomers from Jeep and Ford as well as numerous importers started to offer bigger and better vehicles.

Despite the stiffer competition, the Blazer has remained a solid performer with decent performance and plenty of options. The revised model introduced in 1995 bought the Blazer up to date, but it still offers less interior space than its closest competitors, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you're in the market for a Blazer, just remember which Blazer -- big or small -- you're after if you're shopping a pre-1995 model.

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1992 Chevrolet S10 Blazer

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Intrepid

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts.

1. Pre-owned Vehicle Review (1992 Chevrolet S10 Blazer)

My Likes: looks since 1995, ruggedness

Dislikes: square look prior to 1995, choppy ride in 2-door version

Competitors: Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder

Miles: 90,700

Condition: B+

Price New: $18,863

Estimated Current Value: $13,000 (April 1998)

When I decided to test a six-year old S10 Blazer (the S10 designation was dropped in 1995) with a fairly high mileage, I presumed that it would not make a particularly good pre-owned vehicle purchase. But I was pleasantly surprised.

As soon as I jumped in the red, four-door, four-wheel drive Tahoe LT model, I realized that this was a good truck. The black carpets were almost as good as new and the seats did not look as though they'd seen much wear. In fact, the only sign of wear inside the vehicle was on the dash. The surface of some of the plastic trim was peeling off. Fortunately, it was in an area all but hidden from view. Compared to newer vehicles, the dash is dated but functional.

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When I fired up the 4.3 liter V-6 engine, I noticed it was a bit loud. It was not an unpleasant noise, but a powerful throaty type sound. It might, however, become tiresome on a long journey. The transmission seemed to be in fine fettle. On the highway, I expected the steering to be somewhat sloppy but it wasn't. There were a couple of rattles coming from the rear tailgate, which seemed to need slamming quite hard to shut properly.

This S10 Blazer was fitted with alloy wheels and large off-road tires. Consequently, the full-size spare was standing in the rear luggage compartment where it took up far too much room. Also there was no split rear seat, which is a disadvantage if you are carrying more than two people and need more cargo room. Access to the rear luggage compartment is via a split tailgate, which is an unusual feature. Derived straight from the S10 pickup, it's a feature that appeals to some buyers. It means the glass window has to be lifted first before the tailgate is lowered. Long loads can be carried and the tailgate makes a useful table for picnics. But, it's also a bit of a reach to get to anything in the cargo area when the tailgate is down. In 1997 Chevrolet made this split tailgate optional, which suggests it is not a feature everyone liked.

The exterior bodywork was in pretty good shape. The paint was slightly faded and some of the trim had nicks in it. It sure did not look as if this SUV had seen much, if any, off-road duty. Overall, I reckon this was a decent pre-owned vehicle to buy. It doesn't offer as much room as an Explorer or as much style as a Grand Cherokee but it's a solid performer.

Check out the GMC S15 Jimmy and the Oldsmobile Bravada as well -- they are all but identical.

2. Summing It Up -Owners Views


"Size (four-door), acceleration, gas mileage (22 highway), comfortable controls from the driver's position"


"Body flex, motor reliability (electronics), transmission shifts erratically, tight turn radius way too large."



3. History of Blazer

The Chevrolet S10 Blazer was the first compact SUV when it was introduced in 1983, just beating the Ford Bronco II to market and preceding the Jeep Grand Cherokee by one year. At the time, there were only full-size SUVs on the market including the "Big" Blazer. To avoid confusion, the smaller Blazer had the S10 tag to indicate that it was based on the S10 compact pickup truck.

It is generally accepted that this was when the SUV craze started and it was the S10 Blazer that charged to the front in the sales race, handily keeping ahead of its competitors until 1991 when Ford introduced the Explorer.

The enthusiasm for SUVs has been so strong that the S10 Blazer is still as popular as ever, even if it is only the third best-selling model in the segment. In fact, 1996 was its best year ever in terms of total sales.

In 1991 a longer wheelbase model was introduced with four doors, previously the S10 Blazer had only been available with two-doors. Although the S10 Blazer has been continually upgraded in its 15-year life, it was not until 1995 that the Blazer was heavily remodeled. The S10 designation was also dropped as the full-size Blazer was renamed the Tahoe. The next major update is not expected to occur until 2001.

The GMC Jimmy and the upscale Oldsmobile Bravada are essentially the same as the Blazer with trim and option differences. As a more upscale model, the Bravada has only sold in small numbers. It is only available as a four-door model with permanent all-wheel drive.

4. Review of Current Blazer

How good is the newest incarnation of the Blazer, introduced in 1995? Although its chassis might not be as refined as in some other SUVs, it still seems to work just as well. The four-door version definitely rides better thanks to its longer wheelbase. There is now just one 4.3-liter, V-6 engine offered. It produces 190 hp, providing decent power. It is also much quieter. There are no less than seven different suspension/wheelbase combinations to suit different needs from rough to smooth and models are available in two- or four-wheel drive.

The body on the newer Blazer is definitely classier looking with its rounded corners. Inside, the dashboard still has a truck-like look to it, but ergonomics are improved. Modern conveniences one expects in a car, such as cup holders and cubby holes, abound. The rear tailgate is now available in two versions. Both offer a glass panel that opens separately and the whole tailgate can lift up as one unit, as in most vehicles, or the lower half can be lowered as in a pickup's tailgate. Interior space has not really changed, as the wheelbase is the same as it always has been. However, there are more seat options, including split front bench seats and two types of split rear seats.

5. Basic Facts: 1989 -- 1994 (S10) Blazer

Vehicle Type: Compact Sport Utility

No. Passengers: Up to six

Origin of Assembly: Moraine, OH; Linden, NJ (since 1994) and Pontiac, MI (until 1994)

Engine: Standard: 4.3-liter 165 hp V-6

Option: 4.3-liter 200 hp V-6

Transmission: 5-spd manual, 4-spd. auto

Length: 170 inches (2-door); 177 inches (4-door)

Wheelbase: 101 inches (2-door); 107 inches (4-door)

Width: 65 inches

Height: 64 inches

Curb Weight: 3300 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo Volume: 67 cu. ft. (2-door); 74 cu. ft. (4-door)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 16/21 (manual), 16/21 (auto)

6. Changes in the Chevrolet Blazer Line 1994 - 1998

1994 Model Year

Refined powertrain, more corrosion protection, and more standard safety features.

1995 Model Year

All new model based on the third generation S10.

1996 Model Year

A new, easy-shifting, 5-speed manual transmission with a new concentric-design slave clutch is optional on 2-wheel drive Blazer.

Models with automatic transmissions have a new brake/transmission shift interlock that requires the driver to apply the brake pedal to shift from Park.

1997 Model Year

A new liftgate option, available on all 4-door models, features a separate liftglass.

All-wheel drive system now includes four-wheel disc brakes.

Automatic overdrive transmission fluid pump has been refined, resulting in smooth shifts and increased operating efficiency.

1998 Model Year

Numerous minor exterior and interior changes.

Safety changes include 4-wheel disc brakes, right front-passenger air bag, Passlock theft-deterrent system and Daytime Running Lamps (DRL) with automatic exterior lamp control.

1999 Model Year

Autotrac 4WD system automatically engages 4WD system only when needed (optional)

Audio controls available on steering wheel

Power front seats available as option

7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating (1995 model year): Driver 3; Passenger 1 (5 is best)

Four-wheel, anti-lock brakes standard on all models with automatic transmission from 1992 on.

Driver side airbag introduced in 1995.

Dual front air bags standard from 1998 on.

Four-wheel disc brakes standard from 1998 on.

8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed, as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1993 Model Year

New: $13,889 to $20,006

1994 Model Year

New: $14,811 to $21,126

1995 Model Year (new model)

New: $17,200 to $24,427

1996 Model Year

New: $18,086 to $25,630

1997 Model Year

New: $19,081 to $25,973

1998 Model Year

New: $20,120 to $28,656

9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1993 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 16%

4-Door 84%


Automatic 96%

Manual 4%

4WD 77%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 99%

Power Windows 89%

Cruise Control 90%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1994 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 11%

4-Door 89%


Automatic 97%

Manual 3%

4WD 80%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 99%

Power Windows 95%

Cruise Control 99%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 12%

4-Door 88%


Automatic 100%

Manual 0%

4WD 81%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 99%

Power Windows 97%

Cruise Control 97%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 13%

4-Door 87%


Automatic 99%

Manual 1%

4WD 80%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 97%

Cruise Control 98%

Leather Seats 20%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 73%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 13%

4-Door 87%


Automatic 99%

Manual <1%

4WD 84%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 97%

Cruise Control 99%

Leather Seats 31%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 73%

10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally, a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced, it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect, as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers

1993 Model Year

Production Run: Oct. 1992 through Sept. 1993

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 158,836

1994 Model Year

Production Run: Oct. 1993 through Sept. 1994

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 148,714

1995 Model Year (first year for model)

Production Run: Oct. 1994 through Sept. 1995

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 231,965

1996 Model Year

Production Run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 236,262

1997 Model Year

Production Run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 230,219

1998 Model Year

Production Run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 225,044

11. Awards and Commendations


"Truck of the Year" - Motor Trend

"North American Truck of the Year" - North American Auto Writers

"Truck of the Year" - Truckin'

"Top Ten Trucks" - Consumer Review

"Best Buy" - Consumers Digest

"Drivers' Choice Award for Best SUV" - MotorWeek TV Show

"Design & Engineering Award" - Popular Mechanics

"Best in Class, Best New Utility Vehicle" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance


"Best Buy" - Consumers Digest

"The Best Value Intermediate Utility (2-door)" - IntelliChoice


Like all SUVs, the enthusiast magazines have been temperate in their judgment on the Blazer and its twins, the GMC Jimmy and Oldsmobile Bravada. As always, they say that the ride and handling are just okay but people don't buy SUVs for those qualities. Instead they buy them for perceived safety, a high driving position and rugged looks. The Blazer seems to meet these criteria as well as any other SUVs.

"So while the completely redesigned 1995 Chevy Blazer, like its twin, the GMC Jimmy, still can scale the mountain peaks, it will keep its buyers as comfortable inside as if they were in their favorite Olds Delta 88." - AutoWeek, May 22, 1995

"In a 40,000 mile, long-term test of a Chevrolet Blazer LS, we found it to be something of a rattler, although there was also much to like about it. "The suspension . . . felt plenty coordinated enough to make many competing SUVs feel like reworked trucks," we noted. It never left us stranded, and not one of its major-or even minor-components failed over the course of our long-term test." - Car and Driver 1998 Truck Buyers Guide

13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 94V093000

Component: powertrain: transmission: automatic

Year: 1993

Year of Recall: 1994

Potential Number of Units Affected: 72,664

Summary: Significant wear can develop on the low and reverse clutch preventing the park pawl from engaging. This can prevent a "no park" condition from occurring while the engine is running, causing unintentional movement of the vehicle without operator action. (The "no park" condition will not occur while the engine is off.) Unintentional vehicle movement could result in a vehicle accident and injury to persons in the path of the vehicle.

ID Number: 95V180000

Component: engine cooling system: fan

Year: 1995

Year of Recall: 1995

Potential Number of Units Affected: 73,163

Summary: Fan blade rivet breakage can occur causing the fan blade to separate from the spider. If this occurred while the hood was open, a person working under the hood of the vehicle or in the vicinity of the vehicle could be struck by the fan blade and injured.

ID Number: 96V234000

Component: fuel: fuel tank assembly

Year: 1995-96

Year of Recall: 1996

Potential Number of Units Affected: 432,183

Summary: During development testing, the prop shaft contacted the inboard side of the fuel tank allowing fuel leakage. This leakage was in excess of the amount permitted by FMVSS 301, "Fuel System Integrity." If an ignition source is present, and there is a fuel leak, a fire could occur.

ID Number: 97V096000

Component: interior systems: seat and shoulder belts and belt anchor: other parts

Year: 1996-97

Year of Recall: 1997

Potential Number of Units Affected: 587,950

Summary: Extended cab pickup trucks equipped with 60/40 front bench seats and extended cab pickup trucks and 2-door utility vehicles equipped with manual locking recliner bucket seats. The outboard safety belt webbing on the driver's and/or passenger's seat can separate during a frontal impact. If a separation occurred and there were secondary crash events or vehicle rollover, there would be no belt restraint of the occupant and increased injuries could occur.

14. Cost of Parts and Service (Relative to Other Vehicles)

Headlight unit: $215 (above average)

Side marker lamp: $27 (below average)

Door (left front): $417 (average)

Fender (left front): $258 (above average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of mid-1998 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision

The Rettie Report and Pre-Owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Pre-Owned Profile: 1988-1994 Chevrolet S10 Blazer - Autotrader