Roughly a quarter century after the discontinuation of the K5 Chevy Blazer, General Motors resurrected the Blazer nameplate for the 2019 model year as an all-new midsize crossover. Almost immediately, a subset of outspoken K5 Chevy Blazer fans spoke out against GM’s decision to reuse the nameplate for this new unibody crossover, chastising the automaker and characterizing the new crossover as an unfit successor to the K5. The question is – is the hate for the Chevy Blazer crossover justified?
We should start with the K5 Chevy Blazer. Produced over the three generations between the 1969 and 1994 model years, the K5 Blazer is considered a legend in the off-roader space, with a body-on-frame design, a range of V8 engine options, four-wheel-drive, and a spacious and versatile interior. However, the K5 Blazer’s true off-road capabilities were realized by the aftermarket, which added all manner of lift kits, off-road tires, suspension upgrades, and more to transform the rig into a whole new beast when the pavement ended.
Which is to be expected. If you modify a vehicle for a certain activity, such as off-roading, it should be good at that activity, no? That said, one could argue that, stock to stock, the modern Chevy Blazer crossover is objectively better than the standard K5 Chevy Blazer ever was – in just about every single way, too. Engine power density, cabin noise levels, fuel efficiency, ride quality… the list goes on and on.
“Back in the ‘70s, the K5 Blazer represented a ‘typical SUV.’ Five decades of engineering and development later, the Blazer crossover is today’s ‘typical SUV’,” explains GM Authority Executive Editor Alex Luft. “It’s not all that capable off-road, but that was never its intended purpose. That role would have been reserved for the now-cancelled GMC Jimmy.”
The buying public, it would seem, tends to agree. Chevy Blazer sales figures show the crossover’s best sales year in 2020 at 94,599 units sold, with consistent annual performance between 60,000 and 70,000 units.
There’s also the fact that the Chevy Blazer complements the Bow Tie brand’s utility vehicle lineup in a meaningful way.
“The Blazer allows Chevy to offer a complete spectrum of crossovers, ranging from subcompact (Trax, Trailblazer) to compact (Equinox) and midsize (Blazer) to full-size (Traverse),” Luft states. “No other automaker offers a broader crossover lineup than Chevy does today, and the Blazer is a big part of that.”
In the end, though, the outspoken K5 fans throwing shade at the new Blazer crossover don’t really care about sales, or profits, or measurable things like engine power density, or how quiet the cabin is, or fuel efficiency, or ride quality. What these fans care about is the K5 Blazer, and simply put, the Chevy Blazer crossover ain’t it. Nor will it ever be.
There could be other things tied in as well, such as a broad distaste for modern vehicles, from the design, to the technology, to the complexity. GM’s move to EVs could be a sticking point as well. As such, anything new with a name steeped in tradition could become a target, and the Blazer crossover would certainly fit that description.
So maybe you love manual transmissions and big V8 engines and gnarly off-road tires and body-on-frame construction. And we think that’s awesome – hell, we love that stuff too! But in the end, if it’s a K5 Blazer that you want, there’s really only one solution – buy a K5 Blazer, because the new Blazer crossover is a different animal entirely.
Of course, we want to know your opinion. Is the hate for the Chevy Blazer crossover justified? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to GM Authority for more Chevy Blazer news, Chevy news, GM business news, and around-the-clock GM news coverage.