A few months ago, Chevrolet announced that they’d be reviving the Blazer name, and then they showed us the vehicle that would carry the badge. It’s a midsize crossover, and it doesn’t exactly make us think of the “Blazer” models in the past — often large, 4-wheel drive, brutish vehicles.
Personally, I didn’t care about this, because I know that the world moves on and times have changed, so I wasn’t looking for an old-school Blazer revival — even though this seems like the perfect time to do it, with low gas prices and massive popularity of big, off-roader SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner. Even Ford is taking advantage of this moment in time to revive the Bronco, which was the Blazer’s strongest competitor back in the day.
But I really didn’t mind the Blazer taking on a crossover persona, because, let’s face it, crossovers sell. It seemed like a smart business decision. Then I actually saw the Blazer at the LA Auto Show, and I immediately became confused. Who is this for?
Let me give you a little rundown: the Chevy Equinox, which is currently Chevy’s smallest SUV, starts from $24,800 with shipping. The Traverse, which was the next size up before the Blazer appeared, starts right around $31,000 with shipping. The Equinox offers 2-row seating, and the Traverse is a 3-row crossover.
Then, in comes the Blazer. The Blazer starts just under $30,000 with shipping, and it’s a 2-row vehicle. In terms of sizing, the Blazer is 191.4 inches long, versus 183.1 for the Equinox and 204.3 for the Traverse. It’s right in the middle. But is there a middle for it to enter?
The problem, to me, is that the Blazer has roughly the same starting price as the Traverse, but it offers less utility, thanks to 2-row seating. It has the same utility as the Equinox — maybe a bit more, due to its larger size, but the cost is much higher. I’m not entirely sure there’s a market for people looking to pay Chevy Traverse money for Chevy Equinox utility.
With that said, other automakers actually have proven that there’s a market here, as both the Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Grand Cherokee seem to do just fine in this segment. But there’s a big difference: both of those vehicles offer a departure from “normal” midsize SUVs by touting off-road capability, delivering something that buyers of the Highlander and the Sequoia, for instance, can’t have.
But the Blazer doesn’t offer that: it’s in the middle of the Equinox and the Traverse, but with no clear differences between them. No off-roading capabilities, and not even any off-roader styling — in fact, the Blazer’s resemblance to the Equinox is surprisingly strong. It just really isn’t all that different.
The Blazer seems like a nice vehicle, and I sincerely like the Equinox and the Traverse, but I’m just wondering if this pie really needed to be sliced again. That’s especially true considering Chevy still doesn’t have a smaller SUV than the Equinox — a competitor in the rapidly expanding segment that includes the Ford EcoSport, the Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-3 and the Jeep Renegade. If I were Chevy, I would’ve started there, but instead, we’ve got the Blazer. We’ll see how it does.