Vehicle Overview
Even after launching its new TrailBlazer midsize sport utility vehicle for the 2002 model year, Chevrolet chose to keep the smaller, prior-generation Blazer in its lineup. The TrailBlazer name was previously used on higher-end Blazers. When GMC introduced the midsize Envoy in 2002, it decided to drop the Jimmy, which was that company’s equivalent of the Blazer.

In size and price, the compact Chevrolet Blazer falls between the company’s subcompact Tracker and midsize TrailBlazer SUVs. Marketing Director Russ Clark acknowledged the Blazer’s revised role and noted 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.”

The Blazer comes in two-door and four-door LS forms, as well as a two-door Xtreme model. A ZR2 Wide-Stance Offroad Performance Package for four-wheel-drive two-door models features a 3.9-inch wider track width, P265/75R15 on/offroad tires and Bilstein shock absorbers, as well as other heavy-duty components.

Four-door Blazers can have optional Autotrac four-wheel drive and optional steering-wheel radio controls. A deluxe overhead console features a HomeLink security system.

Exterior
The four-door Blazer rides a 107-inch wheelbase and measures 183.3 inches long overall — that’s 6.5 inches longer in both dimensions than the two-door model. Each body style 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.

Five-spoke 15-inch aluminum wheels are standard on the basic LS model, while the Xtreme gets 16-inch rubber on deep-dish alloy wheels. 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.

Interior
Five or six people fit into the Blazer, which depends on the model. Four-door Blazers have split front and rear bench seats for a six-passenger capacity. Front buckets and a split, folding rear bench are standard in all two-door Blazers, including the Xtreme version. Four-door Blazers have a roomier rear seat and more cargo space than the two-door versions. A floor-mounted automatic-transmission gearshift lever is standard in two-door Blazers. Available audio systems include an in-dash six-CD changer.

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; the automatic is standard on four-door models. Two four-wheel-drive systems are available. Pushing a dashboard button on the 4x4 LS engages the Insta-Trac four-wheel-drive system. The Autotrac system, which is now available on both two-door and four-door Blazers, automatically engages when additional traction is needed.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard. An optional automatic door-lock feature allows the driver to set the locking and unlocking preferences.

Driving Impressions
Even if they couldn’t 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, handling that at least matches most of its competitors and better-than-adequate acceleration. The Blazer is unabashedly trucklike, but that doesn’t seriously interfere with the compact SUV’s practical virtues and easygoing personality.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 8/27/03