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2019 Chevrolet Blazer strays far from its rugged off-road roots

The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is going to make some people angry. The Blazer name was attached to some of Chevy’s earliest SUVs, and has long been associated with old-school ruggedness. When Ford announced that it would resurrect the Blazer’s old rival, the Bronco, enthusiasts assumed a battle of traditional off-roaders would soon be joined. But the 2019 Blazer is a very different kind of vehicle.

Instead of a truck-like body-on-frame design and old-school four-wheel drive system, the 2019 Blazer is based on a car-like front-wheel drive unibody platform, with optional all-wheel drive. The new Blazer isn’t a Bronco rival; it’s yet another crossover, like the Equinox and Traverse it will slot between in Chevy’s lineup. Going the crossover route yields major benefits in road manners and fuel efficiency, which explains Chevy’s choice.

To go with its car-like underpinnings, the 2019 Blazer has more car-like styling than its boxy predecessors. It looks like a somewhat more aggressive version of the Traverse, with a hint of Lexus RX thrown in. It certainly doesn’t look like any previous Blazer. Inside, there is seating for five and 64.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded.

Base models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. An optional 3.6-liter V6 musters 305 hp and 269 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Chevy claims the Blazer will tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped, which is fairly competitive for a vehicle in this class, but less than the Chevy Traverse’s 5,000-pound maximum tow rating. Optional Hitch View and Hitch Guidance features for the rearview camera help the driver more easily line the Blazer up with a trailer.

Chevy did not break down the full list of features, but the Blazer will be offered with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Six USB ports and wireless phone charging will be offered as well.

Drivers will also be able to roll down the windows using the key fob, and fire up the (likely optional) heated steering wheel and heated/ventilated seats when remote engine start is engaged. Driver aids will include adaptive cruise control and the rearview camera mirror previously seen on other General Motors models. It streams feed from the rearview camera to a screen that doubles as a conventional mirror.

The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer hits dealerships in early calendar-year 2019. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date. Chevy’s design rethink will likely broaden the Blazer’s appeal, but fans of old-school SUVs will have to wait for the arrival of Ford’s Bronco in 2020.

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