Phyllis Diller made the world laugh, Johnny Carson took over late-night television, bands like The Monkees and The Beatles topped the charts, and Captain Kirk uttered the famous line, “Beam me up, Scotty.” It was 1960s America and times, well they were a’changing. But what does any of this have to do with the 2022 Chevy Blazer that will soon make its way to American roads? It’s all part of the Blazer’s incredible legacy that’s left many to wonder if Chevy missed the mark on the newly redesigned SUV.
To fully appreciate everything the 2022 Blazer has to offer requires a trip down memory lane to the 1960s when Ford introduced the Bronco in 1966. Three years later, Chevy gave the Bronco a run for its money with the debut of the bigger and more capable Blazer. The Blazer’s popularity was undeniable. So, what led to its demise in the new millennium and what set the stage for its return that ultimately led to the 2022 model that Chevy equips with unique design features, intuitive technology, and cutting-edge safety and driver-assist tools?
The Birth of An Icon: The Blazer’s Timeline
Competition between Chevy and Ford has always been fierce, as we see with Ford’s debut of the Bronco in 1966 that was quickly followed by Chevy’s debut of the Blazer in 1969. The Blazer, which was based on Chevy’s best-selling C/K series truck, was larger than the Bronco, offering more cabin space for passengers and cargo. While you might think that the Blazer’s size would hinder its off-road performance and its popularity among drivers, that wasn’t the case. The Blazer quickly became a favorite because of its size and standard four-wheel drive system that readied it for every on and off-road adventure. It was the ultimate SUV of the era.
By the 1970s, Chevy made several improvements to the Blazer and introduced the larger, better equipped second-generation model. Immediately recognizable by its boxy design, the Blazer was equipped with full-time four-wheel drive and a removable roof that delivered an immersive driving experience similar to that of the ever-popular Jeep Wrangler. Chevy didn’t stop there, however, and offered the Blazer Chalet, which was a built-in camper unit ideal for outdoor enthusiasts looking to camp from the SUV.
Over the next several decades, the Blazer saw vast improvements to its power, capability, and size with the addition of a diesel powertrain and a more capable V8 engine. The Blazer lineup also expanded to include the smaller S-10 Blazer as well as a four-door option that gave drivers more room for customization. These additions paved the way for the full-size Blazer of the 1990s that was eventually renamed the Tahoe, the Suburban’s smaller sibling, in 1995. This left only the S-10 Blazer to carry the Blazer nameplate and is the first sign that the end was near for the once-popular SUV.
Chevy softened the blow by introducing the high-end TrailBlazer trim to the Blazer lineup in 1999. The TrailBlazer quickly became a best-seller and left Chevy with no other choice but to discontinue the Blazer in 2002. The TrailBlazer took over the lineup from 2002 to 2009 when it was discontinued, leaving the Blazer and the TrailBlazer as distant memories of the Chevy fleet.
The Stakes Are High: The Blazer Makes Its Grand Return
When you think about an athlete who comes out of retirement, the stakes are incredibly high. All eyes are watching to see if he or she will live up to their previous accomplishments and their athletic prowess. Are they searching for the glory of days passed and will they find it, or will they fall short and embarrass themselves? The same is true in the automotive industry and is exactly how you could describe the anticipation leading up to the debut of the 2019 Chevy Blazer. Would the SUV live up to its namesake or barely show any resemblance to the adventurous rig of the 1960s?
Some experts argue that the automaker missed the mark with the 2019 Blazer, while others praise the SUV’s modern style, sport-like handling, and wide array of features. Those who give the Blazer a thumbs down suggest that Chevy could’ve easily taken the lead in the segment and positioned the Blazer once again as a ruggedly capable SUV. Those on the opposite side of the debate argue that the Blazer is exactly what drivers are looking for – a luxury crossover that’s affordable, fun to drive, and loaded with technology. What do you think?
A New Perspective
The 2019 Blazer is a far cry from the Blazer that was first introduced in the 1960s because it’s less of a trail runner and more of a luxury crossover. But what if comparing the models isn’t a necessity, and what if we can appreciate the Blazers as two very distinct entities that reflect the needs and demands of the era? What if we look at the Blazer as evolutionary?
The Blazer of the 1960s filled the need among drivers looking for an adventurous SUV that could handle itself on the trail and compete against models like the Bronco. Fast forward to 2019 when Chevy has a new need to fill and meets the demand for a luxury crossover that’s bold, modern, and loaded with intuitive technology. The 2019 Blazer doesn’t have a Bronco to compete with and instead is positioned to lead the race against models like the Subaru Outback, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Ford Edge.
The new Blazer ushers the nameplate into an era of new technology with a driver-centric interior equipped with digital displays, a state-of-the-art infotainment system, luxury features, and a suite of safety and driver-assist tools that are foreign to the Blazer of generations past. That isn’t to say the original Blazer is any less remarkable; just ask someone who owned one of those early models. It simply served a different set of needs.
The 2022 Blazer continues to cater to the crossover market with its bold styling, new features, enhanced technology, extended exterior color palette, and design details across its multi-trim lineup. It bid farewell to its four-wheel drive capability of decades past and focuses on performance with its available 2.0-liter turbo or 3.6-liter V6 engines that deliver anywhere between 228 and 308 horsepower. The Blazer is ready for adventure so long as you stay on the pavement, which is perfectly acceptable in the luxury crossover segment.
Where Do You Stand?
Ford’s recent debut of the 2022 Bronco has reignited the debate that the new Blazer doesn’t live up to its namesake. When it returned to American roads in 2019, Chevy was tasked with meeting new demands from drivers, and the Bronco was still a whisper keeping the rumor mill busy. At the time, Chevy didn’t need to revamp the Blazer to its former glory and, instead, focused its attention on breathing new life into the best-selling SUV to attract a new generation of drivers. The Blazer didn’t have to compete with the likes of the Bronco as it did in the 1960s.
Where do you stand in the debate? Are you a purist who believes the Blazer should live up to its off-road legacy? Or, do you embrace the changes Chevy makes to usher the SUV into a new era of innovation and luxury as we see on the stunning 2022 Blazer?