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Retro Renaissance: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Test Drive

We’re living in a sort of automotive renaissance right now. After being absent from the North American market for nearly a decade, the Ford Ranger is back. The next-generation Bronco is coming. And the Chevrolet Blazer is all-new for 2019. Unlike its big and boxy ancestors, the latest Blazer is an angular, front-wheel-drive midsize SUV with four- and six-cylinder engines and available all-wheel drive. Chevy offers it in four basic trim levels: L, Blazer, RS, and Premier.

I recently spent a week in the sporty Blazer RS model. It showed up in my driveway a few days before the start of the Texas Motor Press Association’s first annual Texas Off-Road Invitational, a two-day event at General Sam’s Offroad Park where my colleagues and I would drive a variety of pickups and SUVs to determine the winners of the top titles of Off-Road Truck of the Year and Off-Road SUV of the Year. The roughly three-hour drive from my place near Austin to Huntsville gave me the opportunity to get more familiar with the new Blazer.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Exterior

Before I even got behind the wheel of the Blazer RS, I knew one thing for sure: Chevy nailed its styling.

It was bold and dramatic, an eye-catching combination of sharp lines and gentle curves. With its slim LED daytime running lamps mounted just below the sculpted hood, the front end of the Blazer looked sleek and futuristic. Lower down, the HID headlights flanked the RS’s signature blacked-out mesh grille.

Other RS design cues include black bowtie and red RS badges, black “Blazer” lettering, 20-inch “Dark Android” wheels, and chrome rectangular dual exhaust outlets.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Interior

I had a lot of luggage and gear to take with me so I was grateful the Blazer RS comes standard with a hands-free power liftgate. It also features Chevy’s first-ever Cargo Management System, which consists of two vertical rails in the floor of the cargo bay and a sliding fence designed to keep stuff in place. According to Chevy’s website, you can configure the rear seats and the Cargo Management System in a variety of ways, whether you’re a Shopper, DIY-er, Weekend Warrior, Traveler, or Commuter. I was going to use the Blazer RS for traveling; I left the rear seats up and pushed the fence all the way back so I could use as much of the 30.5 cubic feet of available space as possible. That was more than enough to hold my suitcase, briefcase, camera bag, tripod, and gimbal case.

Once I was out on the road to Huntsville, I discovered I had everything I needed to feel physically and mentally comfortable. When I left Austin, it was a little chilly, so I was grateful my test vehicle had a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. The eight-inch touchscreen was within easy reach and responded to my navigation system inputs quickly. Chevy paired that slick and modern system with a traditional volume knob and tuning buttons. (Why fix what’s not even broken?)

My test vehicle featured the optional Enhanced Convenience and Driver Confidence II Package. In addition to a variety of safety features (more on those below), that bundle added a few creature comfort upgrades, such as three-stage front seat cooling, heated outboard rear seats, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system. On the long stretches of country roads that led me to Huntsville, I was most thankful for the adaptive cruise control because I could set my speed and following distance, then just concentrate on steering as the Blazer RS managed the throttle and brakes.

I made the trip out to Huntsville alone, but if I had needed to bring people with me, they would’ve had plenty of legroom in the second row. I’m 5’10” and I found that it offered more than enough space for me. It even had its own HVAC vents and device charging options.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Performance

If you see an RS badge on a Chevy vehicle, you can expect it to be a little sportier than its more ordinary siblings. My press loaner had the power to back up those two red letters. Its naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 routed its 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic and an on-demand all-wheel drive system.

To save gas, the Blazer RS could run in front-wheel drive only. With the twist of the Driver Mode Control system’s dial, I could bring the rear axle into the mix and put the Blazer RS into different drive modes, depending on the road ahead. It rained at certain points during my drive out to Huntsville, so just to be on the safe side, I engaged the AWD setting. Once I got closer to town, I selected the Sport setting to tackle curvy back roads. The Off-Road mode was perfect for the 1.5-mile washboard gravel road that led from the main road to the entrance to Uncle Sam’s Offroad Park.

According to the EPA, the Blazer RS is capable of getting 18 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined.* Over the course of 327 miles, I averaged 21.1 mpg.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Safety

Given how far I had to travel, it was nice to know the Blazer RS had a long list of safety features. Standard equipment on the Blazer RS includes an array of airbags, Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. The Enhanced Convenience and Driver Confidence II Package added a variety of features, including automatic high beams (Intellibeam in GM speak), Forward Collision Alert, Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and an HD Surround Vision setup with multiple camera angles. The Safety Alert Seat kept me from getting into a fender bender while reversing out of a parking spot by vibrating to alert me to a vehicle crossing behind me before I could even see it.

2019 Chevrolet Blazer

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS Overall

Prices for the 2019 Blazer start at $28,800.** The top-of-the-line Blazer Premier has an MSRP of $42,700.** The RS model sits somewhere in between at a starting price of $40,600.** My press loaner had a final price of $48,270.

Whether you want a basic Blazer, a loaded one, or a Blazer just like the $48,270 one you see here, you can find it at an AutoNation Chevrolet dealership.

* Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

** MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

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