The first new car I ever purchased was a Camaro. Specifically, a 1984 Camaro Sport Coupe. Yes, it was the base model, and yes it had a puny 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood. However, since I was only 4 years into a 23-year military career, I wasn’t making all that much money so it was all I could afford. But it was a Camaro, and I was damn proud of that fact.
I was so proud in fact that I left the dealer’s window sticker on it for nearly 6 months scrapping it off only after the brutal South Florida sun had faded it to nothing and my wife refused to ride in it unless I did.
I really enjoyed tooling around Miami in that car. I even sneaked onto the track being setup for the 1986 Miami Grand Prix at Bicentennial Park, making It nearly halfway round before I got to meet Miami’s finest law enforcement representative who quickly convinced me that it was probably a very bad idea to continue. My wife simply shook her head in embarrassment from the passenger seat; though I suspect the fact that she looked like a super model who belonged in Miami most likely helped me get away with simply a warning from the aforementioned law enforcement representative who was male.
Those years with that Camaro were easily the best of my youth. My wife and I were in our early 20s, had no kids yet, and were living in one of the best places we have ever lived.
Since then, there have been kids (adults now), many more cars (our first kid several years later meant the Camaro had to be replaced by a family friendly minivan) but I look back on those days (and that car), fondly.
In the ensuing years I’ve had a chance to spend time in a Camaro, most recently late last year when I had a week with a convertible 3LT. Sure, it was generations removed from my 1984, yet there were still some familiar feelings behind the wheel; reminiscent snippets of those happy days in Miami all those years ago.
I had those same feelings again this past week. And they came from an unexpected place.
Chevy delivered me a 2021 Blazer. The Blazer is a once mighty full sized 4-wheel off road monster that faded from view in the 1990s and returned in 2019. It’s now become another midsized SUV in a sea of midsized SUVs.
At least that’s what I thought.
The Blazer is a five-passenger SUV available in six trims: L, 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, RS and Premier. Three engines can be had: two four-cylinders (one turbocharged) and a V6. All are connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on the 2LT, 3LT, RS and Premier trims.
The base model starts with things such as a six-speaker audio system, 8-inch touchscreen, and cruise control. Moving up the LT lineup adds satellite radio, Power-adjustable driver’s seat and the nanny feature likes Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping and departure warning. The LT lineup tops out with leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, a power liftgate blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic alerts.
The RS has a bigger engine, special black-painted 20-inch wheels, sporty trim featuring a black grill and black accents, an upgraded touchscreen infotainment that adds navigation and a heated steering wheel. The Premier trim adds an upgraded eight-speaker audio system, 20-inch wheels, a cargo management system, driver seat memory, heated outboard rear seats, ventilated front seats and a power-adjustable steering column.
My tester for the week was the RS, with all-wheel drive, and the Enhanced Convenience and Driver Confidence II package which added the driver seat memory, heated outboard rear seats, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering column and the upgraded eight-speaker audio system. It also had the Driver Confidence II package with wireless device charging, surround-view camera system, a rear camera mirror, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control and enhanced automatic emergency braking.
On first glance there was something vaguely familiar with outside look. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I did like the athletic stance and the black wheels and trim. On the inside the cabin was roomy, and again had a somewhat familiar feel. I just couldn’t figure it out.
Then I did some research.
Turns out, the Blazer shares many of its design cues with a Camaro. Once I learned that it all made sense. And the subtle cues could be noticed. Now to be sure, the Blazer isn’t a Camaro on steroids, nor a Camaro in drag. The Blazer actually incorporates some of the Camaro design, like circular air vents and the hexagonal infotainment surround, and does so brilliantly.
Make no mistake, the Blazer isn’t a Camaro, nor is it the off-road beast it once was. The V6 with its 20 horses gives it plenty of power. And the drive is spirited and fun, but a Camaro it’s not. With the design cues borrowed from the Camaro however, in a sea of SUVs big, small and in between, the Blazer stands out and stands out very nicely.
It’s a shame that the Miami Grand Prix is now held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Though I do visit there to work NASCAR races, I bet it would be hard to sneak in a lap of my own. To be honest however, if I ever had another Camaro there, I might just be very tempted to give it a try.
2023 Update: I spent a week with a 2023 RS in January 2023. Being part of the first Blazer generation introduced in 2019 fir 2023 Chevy tweaked the exterior a bit with a little leaner snout in the front and slimmer headlights (though they were already pretty slim). Not sure I could notice the differences, but it was a pretty good-looking vehicle to begin with so at least they didn’t mess things up. The interior got a nice updated and the 10-inch touchscreen is now standard on all trims. Oh, and the price edged up a bit with my most recent RS tester coming in at $51,360.
The 2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS (AWD)
MSRP (as tested): $48,380
Engine: 3.6-liter V6, 308 horsepower @670 rpm, 270 ft. lbs. torque @5000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 19 city, 26 highway, 21 combined
Fuel Milage (mixed conditions): 28 mpg
Base curb weight: 4253 lbs.
Wheelbase (in.): 112.7
Length, overall (in.): 191.4
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in.): 76.7
Height, overall (in.): 67
Passenger Capacity: 5
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.): 107.8
Front Head Room (in.): 39.8
Front Leg Room (in.): 41
Front Shoulder Room (in.): 59.1
Front Hip Room (in.): 55.6
Second Head Room (in.): 38.6
Second Leg Room (in.): 39.6
Second Shoulder Room (in.): 58.6
Second Hip Room (in.): 54.2
Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (cu. ft.): 64.2
Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (cu. ft.): 30.5
Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/100,000 Miles
Corrosion: 3 Years/36,000 Miles Rust-Through 6 Years/100,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/100,000 Miles
Maintenance: 2 Years/24,000 Miles
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