The clean, straightforward design of the 2020 K5 is let down only by the turbo model’s excessive add-ons.
The Blazer comes with two engine options. The two low-end Blazer trims offer a direct-injected, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, and is offered only in front-wheel drive configuration. Fuel economy is good for the class, running at an EPA-estimated 22 MPG city and 27 MPG highway, with a 24 MPG average. Chevrolet didn’t bring any of these Blazers for us to drive, so actual on-road performance remains a mystery.
Starting with the mid-grade Blazer V6 trim, buyers get a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 308 hp and 270 lb-ft. of torque. All V6 Blazers are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission with the buyer’s choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. When equipped with the former the V6 returns 20 MPG city, 26 MPG highway, and 22 MPG combined. If you opt for the latter, you can expect 18 MPG city, 25 MPG highway, and 21 MPG combined. We did a bit better than that on the test drive, achieving an average of up to 26 MPG with front-wheel drive. Acceleration with the V6 is adequate, but not outstanding. There’s power to make a pass, but with over 300 horsepower and nine gears to work with, we expected a little more muscle than the Blazer showed us. (READ: 2020 Chevy Avalanche Images)
A point worth noting is that there are two different AWD systems available with the Blazer V6, depending on the trim level you choose. The mid-level Blazer V6 Cloth and Blazer V6 Leather trims feature an AWD system with a single clutch that can engage or disengage the rear axle as needed. The top RS and Premier trims offer a dual-clutch AWD system that can automatically engage either of the rear wheels as needed. This feature offers improved traction on ice, snow, or mud, and improves handling on dry pavement. We don’t expect it will keep up with a Grand Cherokee on the trail, the Jeep remains the uncontested off-road leader in this segment, but it will get you and yours home through a blizzard.
Another feature to mention is that all Blazers feature driving modes that control transmission and stability control behavior. Blazers equipped with front-wheel drive offer a selection of Normal, Snow/Ice, or Sport modes. In Blazers equipped with all-wheel drive, the range of driving modes includes FWD Touring, AWD, Sport, Off-Road, and Tow-Haul mode, if equipped.
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The Blazer has distinctly different personalities based on the trim level. The Blazer RS comes with sport-tuned dampers that are a little firmer than the other trims, and a quicker steering ratio. In fact, we found the RS to be a little too stiff for comfort. It’s Chevrolet’s answer to the Ford Edge ST, which packs more power but doesn’t steer as well. Of course, if it’s all-out performance you’re after in this segment, it doesn’t get any better than the 707-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The Premier is a smoother experience, and markedly more comfortable than the RS while still offering flat and responsive cornering. You’ll never find any Blazer wallowing in a corner under normal driving conditions.
HOW DT WOULD CONFIGURE THIS CAR
If we were shopping for a Blazer of our own, we’d bite the bullet and go straight to the Premier trim, and add the relevant option packages. This is where the Blazer really comes together, and it’s the only way to get the advanced driver assistance and convenience features. We found the RS trim good looking, but the ride was too harsh for everyday driving. At first glance, the nearly $50,000 price tag on the Blazer Premier with the Driver Confidence II package seems high, but as we cross-shopped the competition we found that it’s in line with the other brands. If you want a well-equipped mid-size SUV, that’s the ticket price.