Even after launching its new midsize TrailBlazer for 2002, Chevrolet chose to keep the smaller, prior-generation Blazer in its lineup at least into 2003. The TrailBlazer name was previously used on higher-end Blazers. GMC decided to drop the Jimmy that companys equivalent of the Blazer when it introduced the midsize 2002 Envoy.
In size and price, the Blazer falls between Chevrolets Tracker and TrailBlazer. Acknowledging the Blazers revised role, Marketing Director Russ Clark notes that we have repackaged option groups to provide Blazer buyers [with] everything they could want in a compact [while] also offering them a lower price range. To no ones surprise, the Blazers sales have fallen from 225,948 units in 2000 to 149,195 units in 2001, according to Automotive News. In contrast, thats more than the new TrailBlazer sold in its first year.
The Blazer comes in two- and four-door LS forms, as well as in a two-door Xtreme model. A new fuel-injection system goes into the Blazers 4.3-liter V-6 engine for 2003. Several seat fabrics are new, and a new Flame/Heat decal highlights the Xtreme Blazer. Two-door models can now be painted yellow.
In four-door form, the Blazer rides a 107-inch wheelbase and measures 183 inches long overall thats 6.5 inches longer in both dimensions than the two-door model. Each body style measures approximately 65 inches tall and 67.8 inches wide and is available with either a swing-up liftgate or a drop-down tailgate. The rear window opens separately from the liftgate and flips up on all body styles. The Blazers spare tire stows beneath the rear of the vehicle.
Five-spoke aluminum wheels are standard on the LS model, while the Xtreme gets 16-inch rubber on deep-dish alloy wheels. Body-colored moldings, grille and bumpers decorate the four-door LS. The sporty low-rider Xtreme features a lowered sport suspension and an aggressive exterior with flared fenders, lower bodyside cladding, deep-tinted windows, fog lamps and a body-colored grille.
Depending on the model, either five or six passengers fit into the Blazer. Four-door models have split front and rear bench seats for a six-passenger capacity. Front buckets and a two-place split, folding rear bench are standard on all two-door Blazers, including the Xtreme version. Four-door Blazers have a roomier rear seat and more cargo space than the two-door models. A floor-mounted automatic-transmission gearshift lever is standard on two-door Blazers.
Under the Hood
A 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 is the sole Blazer engine. A standard five-speed manual and optional four-speed-automatic transmission are available on two-door models, while the automatic is standard on the four-door versions. Two four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems are available. Pushing a dashboard button on the 4x4 LS engages the Insta-Trac 4WD system. The Autotrac 4WD system, which is available on two-door Blazers, automatically engages when additional traction is needed.
The Blazer comes with an optional automatic door-lock feature that allows the driver to set the locking and unlocking preferences. Antilock brakes are standard.
Even if they couldnt quite reach above the SUV pack, Blazers continue to deliver an appealing blend of comfort, performance and handling. Owners can expect a reasonably quiet ride, more-than-adequate acceleration and handling that at least matches most of its competitors. Blazers are unabashedly trucklike, but that doesnt seriously interfere with the compact SUVs practical virtues and easygoing personality.