Don’t half-ass your Blazer. Chevy’s charismatic midsize SUV shines brightest in RS form, where it really does act like the V-6 Camaro of SUVs. But the new turbocharged 2020 Blazer doesn’t captivate in quite the same way. Although the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer 2.0T in 3LT trim was mostly enjoyable to drive, this mid-level model left us wanting more. Here’s what the Blazer does right and what it could do better.
The 2020 Blazer’s first issue is the Equinox, or the fact that both spacious SUVs have about the same amount of cargo space. Let’s be honest, though; you probably want the Blazer at least in part for its design. We get it. The 2020 Chevrolet Blazer entices far more than the Equinox we rated last in a large comparison of compact SUVs. The Blazer attempts to earn its price premium with unapologetically bold design from every angle. And as we’ve found, the $41,795-plus RS V-6 version backs up its stylish looks with sporty performance. That’s great, but not everyone wants to spend that much on a midsize SUV.
How Does the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Turbo Drive?
Despite offering only 230 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0T’s turbo-four versus the 3.6-liter V-6’s 308 hp and 270 lb-ft, the 2020 Blazer Turbo still shows traces of the RS’ entertaining moves. The accurate steering makes the Blazer remarkably easy to track on the highway and yes, as capable as you can expect of a midsize SUV on a winding road. Perhaps thanks to our 3LT’s 18-inch wheels (versus the RS’ 20s or 21s), the Blazer even provided a compliant ride. Just as we’ve found with the nine-speed automatic when mated to the Blazer’s V-6, the transmission is well-behaved with the 2.0T engine, too. One of the only dynamic disadvantages is a brake pedal that requires a bit too much effort to press down.
As for that engine—now the middle step between a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I-4 and the 3.6-liter V-6—don’t be fooled by the lure of turbocharged power. The Blazer’s turbo-four provides perfectly satisfactory acceleration; maybe the Equinox 2.0T’s extra 22 horses would help. Oh, and considering the way the tires squeal as they struggle for traction in FWD mode, keep the Blazer in AWD mode if you want to avoid the stink-eye from pedestrians.
The 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Turbo’s biggest surprise comes at the pump. Moving from the Blazer’s base 2.5L to the 2.0T unit actually means slightly improved fuel economy (21/28 mpg to the 2.5L 21/27, comparing front-drive models). Go for a Blazer Turbo AWD model like our tester, and you’re in for a theoretical 586-mile highway driving range; no Blazer can match it, thanks to the combination of 2.0T efficiency and the AWD’s extra 2.3 gallons of fuel capacity.
What About the Blazer’s Interior?
Inside, the Blazer’s backseat makes a positive first impression. Rear-seat passengers will have plenty of space, and there’s no drivetrain hump to hamper middle-seat space. On our 3LT tester, the package is topped off with two USB outlets, a 120-volt outlet, an easy-to-use backrest recline lever, and two-tone seats. Nice.
Moving to the front seat reveals too many disappointing compromises. Maybe you dig the Camaro-style central air vents—they’re cool, right? It’s an unmistakable design feature. But there might be a reason for that—rotate the air vent to redirect the flow, and tell me it didn’t require a tad more effort than you expected. Then hit the lock/unlock buttons on the farther side of the door handles—why are the buttons awkwardly facing away from the driver, making them that much tougher to press? Also, the air-recirculation button is too hard to find and harder still to tell in the daytime whether it’s engaged.
We wish the story ended there. As we noted after driving the 2019 Blazer when the stylish SUV launched, we’re still unhappy about Chevrolet’s decision to restrict automatic emergency braking from sub-$45,000 trims. As much as we appreciate the incredible screen clarity provided by the 360-degree multi-camera system on the 8.0-inch touchscreen, we’d trade it in a second for what some MotorTrend editors feel is one of the most important safety features available today.
Our $41,595 Blazer also lacks adaptive cruise control. Although some adaptive cruise control systems work poorly enough you’ll only use them once, the best versions of the tech can lower the stress of a traffic-filled commute by accelerating and decelerating for you. While we’re dreaming of changes we’d like on the 2021 or 2022 Blazer, Chevy, please consider moving the electric parking brake button to somewhere near the gear stalk and add touch-sensitive unlocking doors. (Some cars unlock when they sense your hand on the door handle instead of requiring the extra step of pushing a button.)
Hmm, OK. So Is the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer Worth It?
Despite all those little issues, we still like the Blazer. In RS trim, it might even be one of our favorite Chevys on the road today, but the SUV’s overall package is too uneven elsewhere in the range. At the Premier’s fancy-pants $45,000–$50,000 pricing, we might consider an Acura, Volvo, or Lincoln. At the Blazer’s 2.0T 3LT AWD’s $40,195 MSRP before incentives, the value is hard to discern. If you absolutely must have the Blazer’s style but can’t handle the RS’ high price with desirable options, stick with the 2.0T engine and try a 2LT Redline Edition. You’ll regain some of the RS’ visual attitude, but at a lower price.
|2020 Chevrolet Blazer AWD (3LT)|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/230-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,150 lb (MT est)|
|L x W x H||191.4 x 76.7 x 67.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||21/27/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||153/102 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.75 lb/mile|
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