EXPERT REVIEW

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It’s getting so you can’t tell the driving difference between an automobile and a truck, and Chevrolet Motor Division thinks that is just fine.

Chevy has blurred the lines between these two types of vehicles with its all-new 1995 Chevrolet Blazer. As a two-door or four-door sport-utility vehicle, the Blazer combines the comfort and convenience of a passenger car with the toughness of a truck.

That sort of puts the vehicle in a something-for-everybody class. The ’95 Blazer offers a new aerodynamic exterior and a new, highly styled interior. With a long list of standard equipment that runs the gamut of upscale technology to child safety, this sport-utility vehicle covers virtually all forms of transportation.

For ’95, Chevy has dropped the “S” prefix formerly attached to the vehicle. Now it is simply called the Blazer, with the full-sized K-Blazer renamed the Tahoe for l995.

“We got our first ones (Blazers) about three weeks ago,” said Bill Young, vice president of Dan Young Chevrolet-Geo-Isuzu. “Once you drive it, there is no comparison to the old Blazer. And they’re selling about as quickly as we can get them unloaded.”

The new Blazer is the product of redesign from the frame up.

That redesign takes in a more powerful engine, a stiffer body structure, a custom-fit suspension, and an interior that was designed from the inside out. The result is a sport-utility vehicle that rides and drives better than anything the division has built in the Blazer line.

There has been a significant rise in the use of special-utility vehicles as an everyday, go-to-work (and play) means of transportation. As a consequence, the vehicles have to be user friendly both for driver and passengers.

In providing all the comforts of home for this new model, designers have increased the interior room without increasing exterior bulk. Without having to resort to a wider, taller or longer body there is a significant increase in interior room.

Contoured seating has been revamped for improvement in comfort. The instrumentation is easy-to-read analog gauges. And in creating cargo space, engineers used a shipping carton that contained a washing machine to act as a template for designing the rear cargo opening. If you’re interested in hauling washing machines, this is the vehicle for you.

Other user-friendly features include cup holders, Scotchgard protection on seats and trim, dual 12-volt outlets on Blazer LS and LT models, and a plethora of electronic assists.

Admittedly, there are limitations on what you can do in the way of aerodynamic styling a sport-utility vehicle. But the consensus is that the new Blazer, with its rounded contours, semi- flush glass, and raked windshield, is an attractive looking vehicle.

It also is as strong as a bridge, what with a ladder-type frame with boxed rails and riveted or bolted cross members for chassis strength. This separate frame with body on top goes back to Year One in automobile and truck manufacturing, and is guaran teed to add muscle to a vehicle where it is needed most.

Chevy says its design approaches the quietness level of better-class sedans.

Under the hood is a 4.3-liter (262-cubic inch) V-6 engine, the only one offered. Fed by a central port injection in which a single injector positioned within the intake manifold feeds six port nozzles, the V-6 produces 190-horsepower.

That’s 30 more horses than last year’s standard V-6. An even better story is the torque, all 260 foot-pounds of it. That lets a Blazer tow up to 5,500 pounds hooked to the back end.

Two transmissions are available, or will be. Standard is General Motors’ advanced 4L60-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic. Coming about mid-l995 will be a five-speed manual.

However, the five-speeder is going to be available in two-door models only, a rather clear indication that the transmission of choice is the automatic.

Another indication of choice — Young states the four-wheel drive vehicles far outsell t he two-w heel drives, even though the 4WD is a more expensive package.

“They (the customers) just prefer four-wheel drive,” he said. “Even if they’re not into off-roading, four-wheel drive is better in the winter.”

Four-wheel drive is a $1,760 option on a base $18,630 two-wheel drive two-door Blazer. The base on the four-door comes to $22,438 with 4WD included.

On balance, it’s rather obvious that Chevrolet intends to flex its muscle in the highly competitive sport-utility vehicle market.

1995 Chevrolet Blazer

Base price:$18,630Type: Front-engine, rear-drive, five-passenger, two-door, rear-drive sport/utility vehicle.Engine: 4.3 liters, OHV V6, 12 valves, 195 horsepower, 260 foot-pounds of torque.Transmission: Four-speed automatic. Mileage: 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway. Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 10.0 seconds. Wheelbase: 107.0 inches. Length: 181.5 inches. Width: 67.6 inches. Height: 63.2 inches. Curb weight: 3,509 pounds. Towing capacity: 5,500 pounds. Options: Preferred equipment group, four-wheel drive, touring suspension package, six-way power seat, overhead console, tachometer.

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