I drive a lot of different vehicles and there are always issues or problems. The dashboard layout will be quirky, the entertainment system will feel ancient or clumsy, and the back seat passengers might be treated like second class citizens with a complete lack of amenities. Then there’s the actual drive experience too; a lot of car manufacturers seem to focus on luxury features rather than a solid, tight driving experience when behind the steering wheel. Add on the variation of entry level vs higher end vehicles and it’s no wonder it’s hard to find happiness in a single car.
Which is why I was so surprised by the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Premium AWD. After a ten year hiatus from manufacturing, Chevy’s come back with one heck of an SUV that nails it. For this category of vehicle, it’s just about perfect. Now, to be fair, it has quite a price tag too at a hair under $50,000, but these larger SUVs hover in the high $40’s up to $55K or even $60K so it’s not outrageous as a sticker price. Having said all of that, however, there’s still one big thing that I’d like improved: Fuel efficiency. But I’ll get back to that shortly.
Let’s start out with an exterior shot. It’s a nice looking SUV:
What’s particularly nice is that it’s not a tank like the Ford Expedition or similar monster SUVs (most often driven by families with just one or two kids, oddly enough). The drive’s easy because the Blazer isn’t actually that big an SUV. It measures a 112″ wheelbase against its 191″ length and 76″ width. Passenger compartment is 107sf total, so it’s roomy even with its relatively modest dimensions.
Just as importantly, the driver’s area is not only roomy but well designed:
Two items of note in the above photo too: See the circular knob on the driver’s door? That’s the rear hatch open button and you can dial it to only open the hatch 3/4 or have the default of a full open. Neat idea. A bit more puzzling, however, is the knob on the left side of the steering wheel approx above the brake pedal. See it? That’s the emergency brake. Why it’s not in the center console is a bit of a mystery, but it took me a bit of hunting to figure out how to engage and disengage it.
The dashboard design is a good mix of old-school classic gauge layout and more modern tech too:
I’ll have closeups of key elements, but notice that the width of the car allows for a wider armrest / divider, which allows for the shifter and cup holders to be side-by-side. Handy because, well, I use those cup holders, I do!
Let’s move into the main gauge cluster behind the steering wheel:
You can see that the vehicle is averaging 24.1mpg with my driving – it’s rated 19/26 – and that’s okay for a vehicle in its class, but as always I would like to see the number double and have the Blazer delivering 35-40mpg instead. Perhaps for the next generation of this vehicle if these standards aren’t completely discarded in the next few years.Then again, with a hefty 3.6L V6 and 9-speed automatic, getting anything over 20mpg is an impressive accomplishment unto itself, if I’m really honest about it.
Notice along the bottom of the main speedometer gauge the safety mechanisms that were engaged: lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and vehicle ahead indicators. The Blazer actually has quite a lot of safety mechanisms including a terrific smart reverse camera and sensor indicator display:
Notice especially the various indicators along the bottom showing that I’m clear of obstacles in all the directions. I also appreciate that it shows both the (simulated) overhead view and the view directly behind me both. Backing up in a car without these features seems a bit alarming once you get used to this particular feature.
Chevy also took a bold move with the environmental temperature adjustment controls. Look below, can you see them?
It’s the outer wheel of the vent control: turn it clockwise and the temperature goes up, turn it counter-clockwise and the temperature goes down, as displayed in a modest digital display buried in the button strip above it.
Notice all the charging options here too. A modern car for a modern family; USB-C, USB, and, below it, Qi wireless charging.
Moving just a bit more towards the center reveals that this Blazer isn’t just an AWD vehicle, it has some transmission and suspension options you can utilize too:
I’m in AWD performance mode (the checkered flag) and you can see that there are variety of other options here too: Tour (FWD), Sport, All-Wheel Drive (AWD), Snow/Ice, Tow/Haul, and Off-Road. I encountered some bad driving conditions and switched easily into 4×4 but mostly drove 2WD with the front wheels providing the drive. Notice the trailer mode: The 2020 Blazer is rated up to a 1500 pound tow capacity. Not enough for a heavy work scenario, but this isn’t a 3/4-ton pickup either.
Enough interior for a second. Let’s have an exterior view too:
Notice the gas cover: It’s not a locking cover nor is there an actual gas cap, which is nice but might not be the primary choice for some drivers. In practice it worked just fine for me and it was easy to fuel the vehicle as needed. You can’t see it in the photo, but there’s also a move-your-foot-to-open feature called the Kick Zone that lets you open or close the rear liftgate hands free. Pretty nice, and there’s a subtle Chevy logo projected on the road surface below the rear to remind you of its placement too. Very luxe.
Open up that rear liftgate on the 2020 Chevy Blazer and there’s plenty of room:
The adjustable device is the “Flexible Cargo Partition”, part of the cargo management system. In practice we didn’t find it much useful at all, but perhaps you need to organize the back of your vehicle and it would be a boon. Otherwise, notice the spaciousness: there’s a lot of storage space in the Blazer for sports gear and related.
And finally, one more photo, of the many power and charging options for the passengers in the rear seat:
It may seem a bit trivial, but if you do have children or other passengers frequently in the back seat, them having their own USB, USB-C and 12V power options is a definite win in my book.
And so, finally, I just have to confess that I really enjoyed so much about the 2020 Chevy Blazer. From the unique and visually arresting way that it let you browse channels on Sirius XM to the drive – it’s peppy and feels very solid on the road – to the comfort level, it’s one of my top cars of the year after driving it for a week. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a bigger SUV.
CONFIGURATION: 2020 Blazer Premium AWD in Midnight Blue Metallic / Jet Black / Maple Sugar (yes, those are the color names), 3.6L V6 SIDI DOHC with 9-speed transmission. Base price: $45,600.00. Optional Addon: Driver Confidence II Package (rear camera mirror, safety alert seat (a bit weird, honestly), wireless charging, etc). AS DRIVEN: $49,060.00
Disclosure: Chevrolet loaned me the 2020 Chevy Blazer for a week in return for this candid writeup. Thanks, Chevy!