If you’re a carmaker, one of the most wonderful, cherished gifts you can have is a nameplate with some history and heritage behind it. Think Mustang, Wrangler, Camaro, Beetle, Supra, Continental, Bronco, and so on. Names that evoke real emotion. Pity companies like Hyundai or Kia that have no such names, unless you count the Hyundai Pony, which no one does. That’s why it’s so maddening that the legendary Chevrolet Blazer name got slapped onto this anonymous pile-of-whatever SUV.
Original K5 Blazers were once very much A Thing. A real competitor to the Jeep CJs and Ford Bronco, Blazers were tough truck-based SUVs that looked good and were genuinely capable and fun. You could take the roof off them! Almost every Scoutmaster I had as a kid had one, and every Park Ranger we encountered drove one, too.
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I mean, look at that thing! The whole roof comes off, you can go off-road and seat four comfortably, it’s smaller than a pickup but almost as useful and a lot more fun. The Blazer could do the same sorts of things Jeeps and Broncos could do, and arguably was a bit more versatile, even.
Look, there was even a camper option! Now, I’d like you to look at the 2020 Blazer:
Wait, no, sorry. That’s an Equinox. This is the Blazer:
Okay, sure, it’s a little sleeker and more stylish than the Equinox, but when you’re standing between the two you have to take a step back and look at them a bit to tell the difference.
That’s the whole problem, here. I was holding my judgement until I saw it in person, and now that I have, I can honestly say the new Blazer has all the presence of a bowl of cream of mushroom soup.
I mean, it’s a nice looking SUV or crossover or whatever the hell it is, and maybe if this thing had come out as the Chevy Esquilax or the Chevy Trailmax or whatever I’d have thought that, huh, that’s a reasonably-attractive SUV, and then probably never thought of it again.
But it’s not. It’s a Blazer.
It’s just so damn cynical. If Chevy wants to just slap one of their most valuable names on a bland, wet wad of adequacy like this, then they absolutely deserve scorn. If they’re going to squander everything that the Blazer was on something you can lose in a parking lot almost immediately, then they need to hear that the feeling you get when you see this with the concept of what a Blazer was in your mind is like being gut-punched with a fist full of the grim, gray realization that nothing really matters.
It’s disappointing. And it’s not fair to do that to this otherwise just-fine SUV, or the good people who worked so hard on it. Naming this thing “Blazer” is like calling an accountant with nice taste in clothes a pirate captain—it’s just not a name they can live up to.
In defense of the Blazer, it does have a USB-C port right in the dash:
Of course, if I’m defending the Blazer because of a type of USB port, you know all is lost.
Didn’t anyone at Chevy look at what Ford is planning with their re-born Bronco and at least have a moment’s pause and think, huh, maybe we shouldn’t just flush away the Blazer name like this in a cynical, half-ass attempt to shove yet another almost indistinguishable SUV into people’s driveways?
I’ve stared into the squinty face of the new Blazer, and I saw nothing. I saw no Blazer, I saw no potential for rugged fun, for utility and joy, for anything any human could actually be excited by.
I looked into the face of the Blazer, and saw nothing but tired marketing avarice, a cynical contempt for automotive history, and a future of a car condemned to a life of Costco parking lots and mild, unspoken despair.