General Motors needs a win, and it needs it bad. Apart from a dizzyingly successful truck lineup and some pretty amazing (but niche-appeal) performance cars, the auto giant doesn’t have much for customers looking for a competent family car that won’t break the budget.
GM’s Ultium modular EV platform promises just that – good driving dynamics, decent range, and price savings thanks to shared development costs. The Chevrolet Blazer EV is the fourth Ultium product to hit the market (after the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq, and Chevy Silverado EV), but it’s arguably the most important.
Given the popularity of crossovers industrywide, most consumers’ first EVs will probably be SUV-shaped, and the Blazer carries the weight of a legendary brand name on its long, lean shoulders. But the EV is arriving late and with a base price that’s about $10,000 dearer than first estimated, high bars to clear when the cheaper Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Ford Mustang Mach-E have had the segment to themselves for a couple years.
But the Blazer EV returns volley with smart styling and plenty of on-board technology, as well as a snappy driving experience that will feel like a huge upgrade to anyone trading in one of Chevy’s ICE-powered crossovers. Still, with an array of excellent competitors out there, it’s hard to get excited about the electrified Blazer.
|2024 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD
|288 Horsepower / 333 Pound-Feet
|$55,320 + $1,395 Destination
|Price As Tested
Gallery: 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV First Drive Review
Part of that is the trim structure for the Blazer, which will be offered as an entry-level 2LT with front- or all-wheel drive and a stylish RS with rear- or all-wheel-drive. For some reason, the largest battery – a 12-module, 102.0-kilowatt-hour unit with a 190-kilowatt DC charge rate – is only available on the rear-drive Blazer. If you want four driven wheels, you’re stuck with the 10-module, 85.0-kWh battery that’s limited to 150 kilowatts of charge speed. What’s more, the rear-drive single-motor Blazer has an impressive 340 horsepower, but the dual-motor version only has 288 ponies.
That means the all-wheel-drive Blazer EV is actually cheaper than the rear-driver, good news for folks in the snow belt but a bummer for anyone expecting the Ioniq 5 AWD’s fleet acceleration. The Blazer’s 62-kW rear induction motor only supports the 180-kW permanent-magnet front motor for a few seconds at a time, like in passing maneuvers or on slippery surfaces. The rear-wheel-drive variant’s lone motor is a stout 254-kW unit, and it’s noticeably quicker as a result. If you want it all, be patient: The forthcoming Blazer SS will package the front motor with the stronger rear hardware for an outrageous 557 hp total.
Once I got my mind wrapped around the motor hierarchy, I hit the road in a single-motor Blazer RS. Off-the-line thrust isn’t as ferocious as expected (perhaps a powertrain tuning decision to protect EV first-timers from neck injuries), but the Blazer offered ample shove once I was on the trot. Passing maneuvers and freeway merges happen seamlessly, and once up to speed, the EV is commendably quiet and hushed, with limited wind noise and only a trace of tire roar coming from the Bridgestone Alenzas wrapped around 21-inch wheels.
Large, repetitive undulations – like the ones I frequently encountered on San Diego’s coastal roads – will introduce your butt to the Blazer’s jounce bumpers, although the ride is commendably smooth and well-damped over smaller obstacles like railroad tracks and potholes. The 5,591-pound SUV feels ponderous in quick transitions, and the flat seats did little to keep me in place around corners. But around town and cruising down the freeway, the Blazer EV drives very nicely indeed.
Swapping to an all-wheel-drive RS revealed a few interesting personality differences. The power difference isn’t really noticeable when blasting away from a stoplight, but the dual-motor SUV’s “mid-range” response is definitely less zesty. Chevrolet claims a 6.0-second sprint to 60 miles per hour, and while no one would call that slow, it is a half-second off the single-motor Blazer and about a second slower than the dual-motor Hyundai Ioniq 5 HTRAC.
That said, the Blazer EV AWD is about 200 pounds lighter than the RS owing to its smaller battery, and that pays dividends with better handling on twisty roads and a smoother ride over those larger bumps that maxed out the rear-driver’s suspension travel. The light, slow steering still requires a lot of hand-over-hand at parking lot speeds or in tight corners, but there seems to be more feel than with the Blazer RWD, an odd occurrence given that all-wheel-drive cars usually have less feel than their supposedly purer, rear-drive counterparts.
Another pleasant surprise comes from the excellent regenerative brakes found on both Blazers I drove. The one-pedal driving system has two different settings – strong and stronger – and when you need to summon even greater stopping force, the brake pedal works its way from regen to friction very smoothly. There’s also a little paddle on the left side of the steering wheel (borrowed from the Bolt) that commands even more energy recuperation, and it operates whether one-pedal driving is on or off. The level of control Chevrolet gives to EV enthusiasts is a wonderful thing, and it also makes the learning curve for newbies a bit easier to scale.
Style And Profile
In my mind, the greatest argument for the Blazer over a Mach-E or Ioniq 5 is its bold styling. Riding on a long, 121.8-inch wheelbase, the Blazer EV looks planted and ready for a fight, with narrow, full-width headlights on the RS that look futuristic and aggressive. The sculpted coves behind the front wheels hide a charging port on the driver’s side, with a streamlined shape that reminds me of the C1 Corvette – “When you’re in the design center surrounded by all these legends, some of those ideas subconsciously sink in,” said Blazer stylist Justin Salmon.
Salmon was primarily in charge of the interior, which borrows liberally from the designer’s former roles at Chevrolet Performance. The trio of round HVAC outlets beneath the 17.7-inch touchscreen look like they came from a sixth-generation Camaro, with a matching vent on either end of the dashboard. Their bezels feature unique 3D fluting with chiseled edges appearing beneath a glossy, transparent surface, giving the pony car design a futuristic update. The screen isn’t a neat little rectangle either, occupying the entirety of its angular housing and dovetailing nicely into an 11.0-inch digital instrument cluster.
Materials throughout the Blazer’s cabin are very nice, with soft-touch surfaces where you want them – extra credit for the padded knee bolsters – and nicely-grained hard plastics elsewhere that hide their cheapness, visually speaking. That said, I drove three different Blazer EVs during my time in San Diego, and two of them evinced some annoying interior squeaks and creaks despite being low-mileage, series-production examples.
The Blazer’s chop-top roofline looks hunkered down, but the Chevy is actually 2.0 inches taller than the Ioniq 5 and 1.1 inches taller than the Mach-E, with more front and rear head and shoulder room than both to alleviate claustrophobia. Unfortunately, the Blazer EV’s 25.5 cubic feet of cargo space is down on the Hyundai by 0.7 cubes and the Mustang by 4.2, and that’s before you take into account that the Chevy doesn’t have a frunk, unlike its primary competitors. The leader of this particular pack is undoubtedly the Tesla Model Y, which has a cavernous cabin and fire-sale pricing to go along with its long range and blue-chip status.
The Blazer EV’s aforementioned screen setup features an Android Automotive operating system, with built-in Google Maps, Hey Google voice assistance, and a wide variety of apps available from the Play store. The Blazer is the first GM EV to do away with Apple CarPlay, an omission Chevrolet representatives said would give customers a better holistic experience. That’s because the built-in Google Maps can provide range- and charging-friendly routing with proactive DC fast charge preconditioning if your destination includes a high-speed charger.
I found myself missing CarPlay when streaming Apple Music or attempting to send a voice text through Hey Google, so I wish Chevy would have given consumers the choice at least. That said, the automaker will pay for the first eight years of Google connective services, a nice change of pace from companies charging subscription fees for every little thing.
The system itself works very, very well, with excellent graphics and crisp touch response. The massive screen offers plenty of pixelated real estate, but it’s close enough to the driver for easy use, and there are still physical buttons and knobs for audio volume and climate controls. A palm or finger rest would be appreciated, however, especially when driving over bumpy roads.
Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish
When Chevrolet announced the EV last year, it was to have a starting price of $47,595 in 2LT trim, with a cheaper 1LT joining the fray later at about $45,000. However, now that the chips are down, the Blazer 2LT AWD is $56,715 including $1,395 destination, and the 1LT has reportedly been canceled altogether. A quick note on pricing: Chevy’s build-your-own tool actually lists a $51,800 starting price for the 2LT, but a pair of mandatory packages totaling $3,520 and including adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a surround-view camera, and more balloon that number a bit.
A nicely equipped Blazer RS AWD like the one I drove costs $60,710 thanks to a $495 coat of paint, while the rear-driver I sampled cost $63,290 owing to its $1,500 panoramic sunroof and more expensive powertrain configuration. For comparison, the very well equipped, Mustang Mach-E Premium Long Range AWD has a starting price of $59,295 with destination, less than both the rear-drive and dual-motor versions of the Blazer RS. Meanwhile, the flagship Ioniq 5 Limited is just $54,245 to start in single-motor form, rising to $58,595 for all-wheel drive.
To be fair, none of those competitive specs can match the single-motor Blazer RS’ 324-mile EPA range rating, although the cheaper, efficiency-minded Mach-E California Route 1 comes close at 312 miles. Getting all-wheel-drive in a Blazer drops that number to 279 miles and slows down charging speeds to 150 kW – suddenly, the 290-mile Mach-E Premium and 260-mile, 230-kW Ioniq 5 AWD look more attractive.
What’s more, Ford and Hyundai also offer cheaper variants of their crossover EVs, with starting prices in the mid-$40,000 range that should be more appealing to new EV customers. Even the most basic version of the Mustang can drive 250 miles on a charge, while the long-range Ioniq 5 SE RWD can do 303 miles. Chevrolet seems to be leaving lots of potential sales on the table by raising the Blazer EV’s cost of entry to well over $50,000.
It’s not all bad for the Chevy, thanks to attractive styling inside and out, excellent passenger room, neat EV-specific features for the Google infotainment system, and respectable EPA range ratings. But the Blazer EV sits at the top of its segment in terms of pricing, and unfortunately, I don’t think its average charging specs and adequate (but not outstanding) driving experience make up for that cost.
2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS AWD