Some vehicles seem to hang on indefinitely despite the emergence of an ostensible replacement. After launching its new TrailBlazer midsize sport utility vehicle for the 2002 model year, and even though GMC dropped its equivalent of the Blazer (the Jimmy), Chevrolet chose to keep the smaller, prior-generation Blazer in its lineup. The TrailBlazer name had previously been used on higher-end Blazers.
Now that the subcompact Tracker has left the lineup, the compact Blazer is Chevrolet's smallest traditional SUV. Chevy Marketing Director Russ Clark acknowledged the Blazer's revised role and noted that "we have repackaged option groups to provide Blazer buyers with everything they could want in a compact while also offering them a lower price range."
Only two-door models continue into 2005, though four-door versions are available for fleet sale. A Smoker's Package (an ashtray and lighter) is now standard on all models. Blazers come in LS trim.
The two-door Blazer rides a 100.5-inch wheelbase and measures 176.8 inches long overall. The rear window opens separately from the liftgate and flips up. Five-spoke 15-inch aluminum wheels are standard.
A ZR2 Wide-Stance Sport Suspension Package for four-wheel-drive models features a 3.9-inch wider track, P265/75R15 tires and Bilstein shock absorbers. Heavy-duty components on the ZR2 include a specifically tuned rear suspension, a rear-axle track bar and a skid plate package.
Four people fit inside the two-door Blazer, which has front bucket seats and a split-folding rear bench. A floor-mounted automatic-transmission gearshift lever is standard in two-door Blazers. Available audio systems include an in-dash six-CD changer. With its rear seat up, the Blazer has nearly 30 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the rear seat increases cargo volume to 60.6 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 is the sole Blazer engine. A standard five-speed manual and optional four-speed-automatic transmission are available. Blazers come with two-wheel drive, but an Autotrac four-wheel-drive system, which automatically engages when additional traction is needed, is available.
Antilock brakes are standard. A programmable door-lock feature is optional.
Even if they couldn't quite reach above the SUV pack, Blazers continue to deliver a moderately appealing blend of comfort, performance and handling. Owners can expect a reasonably quiet ride, handling that at least matches most of its competitors and better-than-adequate acceleration. Blazers are unabashedly trucklike, but that doesn't seriously interfere with the compact SUV's practical virtues and easygoing personality.