Back in August 2017, new spy shots leaked of a heavily camouflaged Chevy SUV undergoing road testing. Rumors immediately abounded about the new vehicle, and, based on other factors, the consensus was that this new SUV would be a redesign and re-release of the Chevy Blazer or the Chevy Trailblazer. The company filed trademarks on both “Blazer” and “Chevrolet Blazer,” which, to some, seemed to confirm the rumors. And, as it turns out, the rumors were true (and we’re low-key thrilled about it).
The Chevy Blazer was one of Chevy’s most popular SUVs, as many loyal Chevy fans will attest to. Before the name Sport Utility Vehicle and its acronym were essentially ubiquitous, Chevy built the 1983 S-10 Blazer to be sportier and more manageable than the competition, the Ford Bronco, and Jeep Wagoneer. Clearly, Chevy was on to something because the Blazer helped usher in the lasting trend of SUVs. In fact, another very popular Chevy SUV, the Tahoe, actually originated as one of the Blazer’s first trims. To the disappointment of many of its loyal fans, the Blazer was discontinued after the 2001 model year, when Chevy decided to focus on the Trailblazer as its own model instead of just a trim level.
With much anticipation we will welcome the 2019 Chevrolet Trailblazer back into the Chevy lineup. In celebration of the new Blazer, we’ll take you through a history of the popular Chevy SUV and introduce you to the basics of the newest iteration of this iconic line.
The K5 Blazer: First Generation
The Blazer’s story began in 1969 when Chevy launched it to compete with vehicles like the Ford Bronco, International Harvester Scout, and Jeep Cherokee. The SUV used the frame of a pickup truck to ensure it was larger than its competitors, carrying up to five passengers. Initial options on this seminal SUV included air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, push-button radio, heavy-duty shocks and springs, and an auxiliary battery.
The first model year of the K5 Blazer came with four-wheel drive and included three different engines to choose from. There was a 4.1-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower that served as the standard, along with the optional 5.0-liter V8 that produced 200 horsepower and the 5.7-liter V8 topping out at 255 horsepower. Along with the three engines, there were three choices of transmission: a three-speed manual, a four-speed manual, and a three-speed automatic.
In 1970, a two-wheel drive option was added along with an additional engine, a 4.8-liter inline six-cylinder. The only other major change the K5 Blazer saw was in 1971 when a new grille and lights were added. The first generation of the K5 concluded production in 1972 before giving way to the second generation in 1973.
The K5 Blazer: Second Generation
The all-new Blazer in 1973 saw slightly more rounded sheet metal along with the same engine options and the ability to choose from a one-, two-, or five-passenger cabin. There was also a completely removable convertible top, which was an odd choice for an SUV. Consumers obviously thought so, too, as this convertible cabin option disappeared by the 1976 model year.
Along with the disappearance of the convertible top, the 1976 model year saw the release of the Blazer Chalet, which added a pop-up camper top. The standard trim of the Chalet slept two adults, had a sink, a two-burner propane stove, an icebox, and small table. The more premium trims also included a propane heater and a refrigerator, while the top-of-the-line models had overhead fold-out bunks capable of accommodating two additional people.
This generation saw a number of cosmetic upgrades to the interior and exterior, along with an additional diesel engine option. This generation wrapped up production in 1991.
The S-10 Blazer
In 1983, Chevy introduced the S-10 Blazer, a miniature version of the K5. Its smaller size made it more maneuverable and easier to drive. Like the K5, it was also based on a pickup frame, though it did not offer the same amount of space. The original S-10 Blazer had a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine that got 83 horsepower. The optional engines for this model were a 2.8-liter V6 and a 2.2-liter diesel engine.
This version of the Blazer did not include the questionable convertible top and it originally only came in a two-door option. A four-door version wasn’t available until 1991 when Chevy added a wheelbase that was 6.5 inches longer.
After the S-10 Blazer ended production in 1994, its name changed to the S-Blazer and included a standard 165 horsepower 4.3-liter V6 engine and standard rear antilock brakes.
The K5 Blazer: Third Generation
All new models received a full-length steel top to replace the convertible top. Initially, the only engine option was a 5.7-liter V8 with 210 horsepower paired with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. It came in both two- and four-wheel drive. Special features included standard four-wheel antilock brakes, maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds, and optional six-passenger seating. In 1994, a 6.5-liter turbocharged diesel V8 engine with 180 horsepower and 360 lb.-ft. of torque was introduced as an upgrade. From 1995 onward, this upgrade would become its own class of SUV, abandoning the Blazer name and henceforth known as the Yukon.
The End of the Blazer
The introduction of the Tahoe meant the Blazer would become exclusively a smaller SUV. The new generation of the Blazer introduced in 1995 featured rounded body lines and more storage cubbies in the interior. Both two- and four-door models were available with this generation. The original engine was a 4.3-liter V6 with 200 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine was paired with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission with either two- or four-wheel drive. Chevy discontinued the Blazer entirely in 2005.
The 2019 Blazer
An all-new Blazer will return for 2019, nearly 15 years after its discontinuation. It will share a unibody platform with the GMC Acadia. Holding five passengers, the Blazer will fill the gap between the Equinox and the Traverse in Chevy’s SUV lineup. Visually, the Blazer has a wide stance, large grille, slim-lined headlights, sculpted sheet metal, a high beltline, and a strong rear. Inside, there is a center stack featuring round air vents and climate controls nearly identical to the Camaro’s. The new Blazer will offer two engines: the base engine being a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 193 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft. of torque. For a power upgrade, there is a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque that has a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. Both engines are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission in front- or all-wheel drive. The new Blazer goes on sale in early 2019.