Burn Book: Flaming (and Defending) the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer
Burn Book: Flaming (and Defending) the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer
By Brian Normile
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Is Chevrolet's recently unveiled 2019 Blazer SUV a good thing? A bad thing? We haven't driven it yet, so we can't say for sure. Nevertheless, that didn't stop me from riling up the staff with the following hot take: the 2019 Blazer is bad and ugly. Always up to argue about vehicles past, present and future, we had a lovely dialogue about the new Blazer and Chevrolet's new design language.
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The new Blazer is lazy. It looks like a Nissan Murano — already in my opinion one of the least attractive vehicles in its class, though far better than it used to be — had the new Camaro front end slapped on it and then was given Hyundai's new headlight setup. This is trying to make something good out of three bad ingredients and, surprisingly, it doesn't work! All it does is look bland and does nothing to make the Blazer stand out in a crowded mid-size crossover field. This isn't as offensive as when Mitsubishi resurrected the Eclipse name for a worse crossover, but it's close. I know why Chevrolet made it and I don't expect it to be a failure, but I'm not happy about it.
I want my Colorado-based SUV, dammit! Ford's bringing the Bronco back and Chevy does this?! For shame. — Me
"There's an easier analog for 'the new Camaro front end slapped on and then given Hyundai's new headlight setup' and it's … well, the Eclipse Cross. A quick glance had me thinking immediately of both that and the Outlander — particularly in the way the headlights meet the grille, but also in the upswept rear cutline (which also reminds me of the C-HR from certain angles). It's difficult to tell how forward-leaning the stance is on the Blazer without standing right next to it — a thing that's always turned me off when it comes to SUVs — but the cognitive disconnect between the polarizing front and anonymous rear is the biggest head-scratcher; it's almost like Chevy couldn't commit to its own design language." — Patrick Masterson, copy editor
"I don't mind the similarities to the Murano with the floating roof. I think the Murano is a stylish SUV that still looks modern even after being around for a while. But I'm lukewarm on the Blazer — not giddy over it, not offended. The RS model looks pretty good with similarities to the Camaro, but the base model is ho-hum. Still more interesting than the Equinox, however." — Joe Bruzek, managing editor
"My $0.02 on the Blazer: I don't hate it. Not nearly as much as some others do, apparently. I think everyone's public butthurt seems to be stemming from the choice of name — they picked a nostalgic name but included a complete lack of nostalgia in the vehicle. It's just the latest in an increasingly long list of Chevrolet naming failures that started with Malibu Classic, proceeded to Bolt EV and has now resulted in Blazer.
"Here's the thing: Everyone is abandoning cars; everyone wants CUVs. So GM has decided to bring a little Camaro styling into the crossover segment in order to try and do something other than the typical boring crossover. I think they succeeded. Is it a total smash hit? No. That Murano floating roof is blatant, lazy styling plagiarism, and I don't think you can really call the front-end headlight treatment Hyundai-esque since they stole it from the Jeep Cherokee.
"But bringing some Camaro excitement to a boring category is something to be applauded, I think. Especially on the interior, where Chevy's crafted a cabin that actually looks sporty and appealing. I mean, c'mon, if Chevy had done another boringly styled, traditional two-box crossover that looked like a Traverse Lite or Equinox XL — or simply rebadged the GMC Acadia — everyone would be giving them crap for not taking chances. They have to go up against the Murano in this category, which already wins on the wildest styling, and Grand Cherokee, which has iconic status on its side. Bringing Camaro styling to the party (and frankly, doing it rather well) gives them lots of talking points. Making the styling more polarizing guarantees that everyone will talk about it. And introducing it in the middle of summer at its own event instead of at an auto show means it has the entire news cycle to itself for a while. I think this was a smart move all around.
"That said, the uproarious laughter you're hearing? With the high-five slapping noises? That's coming from Dearborn and Team Bronco." — Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief
I would like to interject that I think the Camaro is and has been ugly for a while now, and the 2019 isn't an improvement. Adding Camaro-esque exterior styling to anything only makes it worse, not better. — Me again
"I will agree that the latest Camaro update does not go in a good direction. Chevy needs to stop the Toyota-like fish-mouth grilles before it gets out of hand. And I will say this: If you think this Equimaro is unpleasant, wait'll you see the Ford Mustang Mach 1 electric CUV bastard." — AB
"Is it the best-looking design we've seen this year? No. That would IMHO be the Mercedes-AMG GT four-door coupe. But for a new Chevrolet, this is the most design flair we've seen outside of niche models like the Bolt EV, the original new Camaro (I agree on the update) and the Corvette Stingray. Is it derivative? Sure, Chevy didn't reinvent the wheel. But it also has edge and takes some risks. Enough so that we're arguing about it — and when was the last time we cared enough about the design of a Chevy mainstream model to do that?
"Maybe there is a little Murano, a little Lexus, etc., about it, but that's the competition it's taking on, too. More, importantly, this is a lot more fun than the Ford Edge (it's not about the Bronco; Ford should be worrying about Jeep, not Chevy, on that score). The big mouth is dramatic without going over the edge like Toyota. On the downside, I think we all agree on floating roofs (other than on the Volvo XC40, anyway). And why was this odd headlight arrangement picked up for 2019 by Chevy and Hyundai just as Jeep surrendered and dropped the disconcerting look for the Cherokee update and went for a more mainstream configuration?" — Fred Meier, Washington, D.C., bureau chief
"I think it's telling that the foremost defenders we could find for the new Blazer don't actually say they like it — they say 'I don't hate it' in the case of Mr. Bragman and it 'has edge and takes some risks' from Mr. Meier. I would agree with both of those statements; I don't look at the new Blazer and think it's worthy of massive derision, and I do appreciate that Chevrolet didn't drop us a Traverse/Equinox snoozefest clone.
"However, the nature of taking risks is that sometimes, they don't pay off. I actually think that the Blazer's nose is the best part of the vehicle; the Camaro-esque styling looks better to me when it's stretched vertically like this. My bigger issue is with the ascending beltline and the pinched rear glass — which is going to impact visibility and doesn't make the Blazer look more interesting — that makes it look like it wants to be a Murano.
"One other caveat: The car that Chevrolet has been mostly showing around is an RS, the sporty trim with the bigger wheels and blacked-out features. I'm thinking the other trims (especially those that don't fill out the wheel wells as fully) will look much worse and more sedate, as well." — Brian Wong, L.A. bureau chief
While no one here is the new Blazer's most loyal ally, there are those among our staff who would do such crazy things as give it a chance to succeed and not be wildly negative about a CUV we haven't driven yet. I stand by my take until I'm proven wrong — and, honestly, I hope I am!
Stay tuned for our opinions once we end up behind the wheel of the Blazer.
Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.
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