It has now been several years since the Blazer returned to Chevrolet's lineup, and we're still scratching our heads, wondering exactly who this two-row mid-size SUV is for. It's priced like a premium crossover but isn't as luxurious as you'd expect for $50,000. It's styled to look like the Camaro but doesn't have the performance to back up that appearance. And it's definitely not the body-on-frame off-roader that many hoped for when Chevy announced the Blazer was coming back.
But the Blazer must be doing something right, because it's been quietly racking up plenty of sales over the last few years, and an electric variant, the Blazer EV, is set to arrive soon. After testing the refreshed 2023 Blazer in loaded RS trim, we're reminded that it does many things well even if its purpose is less than clear.
The changes for 2023 are largely cosmetic and include revised headlights and taillights, new wheel designs, and a larger infotainment screen. While we think the exterior design is trying a bit too hard, the Blazer certainly looks aggressive and sporty—especially when finished in the two-tone color scheme of our RS test car, which had Radiant Red Tintcoat paint ($495) combined with a black roof ($550). The optional 21-inch wheels ($1000) also contribute to its athletic stance—for a mid-size crossover, at least.
The interior looks lifted straight from a Camaro, with a similar gauge cluster binnacle, air-vent design, and row of HVAC buttons stretching across the dash. Some of these touches don't work as well in a higher-riding SUV, though—the low-mounted vents blow air on your knees, for instance—and the mix of materials leaves something to be desired compared with similarly priced SUVs such as the Kia Telluride.
Underneath, the Blazer doesn't have anything to do with the Camaro anyway. As cool as a sporty crossover based on General Motors' excellent longitudinal-engine Alpha platform would be, that remains a pipe dream for now. Instead, the Blazer's transverse-engine platform is shared with the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia, not exactly pedigreed siblings in terms of driving pleasure. Chevy, however, makes the most of these underpinnings with careful tuning, as the brake pedal is firm, the body control is good, and the steering is reasonably accurate. The Blazer drives well for what it is, and its performance figures from the track—0.90 g on the skidpad and a 70-mph stopping distance of 165 feet—are strong for this segment. But it's not built to satisfy drivers the way the best performance-oriented SUVs can.
The Blazer's top powertrain, a 308-hp version of GM's familiar 3.6-liter V-6 engine, is effective too but looks dated next to the turbocharged competition. This 2023 Blazer, while a few ticks slower than the mechanically similar 2019 RS model we tested, gets to 60 mph in a quick-enough 6.6 seconds. But its 24-mpg result on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test doesn't look so good compared with the Hyundai Santa Fe. That similarly sized crossover, which has a 277-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four, achieved 27 mpg in the same test while also getting to 60 mph more than a half-second quicker. This Blazer's naturally aspirated engine and nine-speed automatic transmission do deliver quick responses, however, as demonstrated by the 5-to-60-mph time of 6.6 seconds—usually, a rolling start exacts a time penalty, but not here.
The Blazer offers a turbo four too, but it's a somewhat weak 2.0-liter unit with 228 horsepower. It does provide a fuel-economy benefit, so that may be a worthy trade-off for some buyers; the related Cadillac XT5, with its 237-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four, for example, achieved 29 mpg in our highway fuel-economy test but is considerably more sluggish to 60 mph, at 7.6 seconds.
The Blazer RS we tested comes only with the six, and the engine's character fits the sporty image of this trim level well. It has a surprisingly aggressive exhaust note, and the engine sounds good when pushed. The RS is also now the only model that, if equipped with all-wheel drive, comes with a more advanced twin-clutch setup on the rear axle that's able to provide torque vectoring.
Our biggest reservation about this model, with an as-tested price of $51,660, is the cost. Slightly smaller but far more posh compact luxury SUVs, such as the Genesis GV70 and Volvo XC60, can be had for comparable money, and they put the Blazer's interior to shame. And similarly sized two-row crossovers such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda Passport can be had for thousands less with equivalent levels of equipment. For somewhere closer to $40,000, the Blazer might make more sense, but at this price, we're just left thinking of all the other attractive alternatives.
2023 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front/all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $47,095/$51,660
Options: Driver Confidence II package (adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, Safety Alert seat, rearview camera with surround-view monitor), $1375; 21-inch wheels, $1000; Enhanced Convenience package (power tilt and telescoping steering column, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, memory settings), $950; black two-tone roof, $550; Radiant Red Tintcoat paint, $495; Storage Optimization package (front console organizer, collapsible cargo-area organizer), $195
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 223 in3, 3649 cm3
Power: 308 hp @ 6700 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.6-in vented disc/12.4-in vented disc
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport
265/45R-21 104V M+S TPC Spec 3115MS
Wheelbase: 112.7 in
Length: 191.8 in
Width: 76.7 in
Height: 67.0 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 56/52 ft3
Cargo Volume, behind F/R: 64/31 ft3
Curb Weight: 4310 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.6 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.1 sec @ 92 mph
100 mph: 18.4 sec
120 mph: 34.0 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.6 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.0 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 165 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.90 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 18 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 24 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 520 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 21/19/26 mpg
Despite being raised on a steady diet of base-model Hondas and Toyotas—or perhaps because of it—Joey Capparella nonetheless cultivated an obsession for the automotive industry throughout his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee. He found a way to write about cars for the school newspaper during his college years at Rice University, which eventually led him to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for his first professional auto-writing gig at Automobile Magazine. He has been part of the Car and Driver team since 2016 and now lives in New York City.