New Car/Review

1997 CHEVROLET BLAZER LT 4X4

by Matt/Bob Hagin

chevrolet

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,116
     Price As Tested                                    $ 29,597
     Engine Type                             4.3 Liter V6 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                  262cid/4300 cc
     Horsepower                                   190 @ 4400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               250 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                    107"/67.8"/181.2"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4046 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                    18 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P235/70R15
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            16/21/18         
     0-60 MPH                                       10.3 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       17.9 seconds @ 80 mph
     Max towing capacity                             5000 pounds
     * Sequential fuel injection

(At its inception in the mid-'60s, the sports/utility field consisted of vehicles that were little more than full-sized, short-bed pickup trucks with back seats. Big, rough and uncivilized. That all changed in 1983 with the S-10 Chevrolet Blazer. It was smaller, lighter and more "personal." Bob and Matt Hagin try out the latest version of this pioneer compact SUV and find it a pleasant product of evolution.)

BOB - This latest Chevy Blazer LT is really smooth, Matt. If a family leads an active outdoor life that includes boating, fishing or, maybe lots of winter activities, one of the many brands of small SUVs is an obvious choice. It has room for five, is as smooth as most sedans on the highway and has the capability to go almost anywhere. Under the hood is a 4.3 liter V6 that puts out 190 horsepower, and although the pushrod design is pretty low-tech and antiquated, it's been refined over the years to be quite smooth.

MATT - But we all know that most SUVs never go off the pavement, Dad, so the real family advantage to ownership of a Blazer 4X4 is that it's more stable in foul weather. If the family goes skiing and the road gets icy or covered with snow, the driver can electrically flip into four-wheel drive and continue on without having to lash on a set of chains. Our test rig carried an optional locking rear differential and although its expensive at nearly $300, it would really be advantageous on dirt or gravel roads, where 4WD may not be necessary. The tires that come on the standard Blazer models are more for touring than really rough duty, so the Blazer LT we drove was fitted up with larger all- weather tires.

BOB - It had an optional underbody scuff-shield, too, just in case it was going to be put over the boulders and through the bramble-bushes. And since I know you love those beefy 4X4s, Matt, Chevrolet now makes a special rough-duty version of the Blazer, called the ZR2, and it's for buyers who plan to spend a lot of time off-road. It's available only in the two-door version and has lots of other specialty parts borrowed from the ZR2 pickup that came out a few years ago. Projecting an adventurous image has a lot to do with buying an SUV, but it's got to have lots of luxury and comfort amenities. Our Blazer LT was loaded with items like an AM/FM cassette stereo, power six-way adjustable bucket seats, a sun roof, tinted glass, and all the trimmings that differentiate this genre of off-roader from its spartan ancestors. The LT version is only available with a four-speed automatic transmission, which is what most buyers prefer, but a five-speed can be had on the base four-door LS Blazer.

MATT - As a family man I can understand the attraction of an SUV with four doors. Having to fit the baby in a car seat is hard enough without having to crawl over front seats to do it. Four doors also adds a couple more square feet of cargo space and there are times when that extra room really comes in handy. Making the rear door swing upward is an advantage, and being able to raise the rear glass separately makes loading packages makes it even better. The Blazer was redesigned a few years back with a new profile that's more aerodynamic and that cuts down on wind noise and boosts the fuel mileage a bit.

BOB - Unfortunately, the Blazer's mileage is not great at 16 city and 21 highway, so every little bit helps. And I would have preferred to see it have more fuel capacity, like the two-door version. Even though it's not much, that extra gallon would have given our Blazer a little more range.

MATT - I thought that it was interesting that our Blazer came equipped with a pair of gloves and a mat so that the driver won't get too dirty in the event of a flat tire. Since the spare has been taken off the back door and hung under the body, the gloves and the mat are probably useful items.

BOB - Matt, at my age, I've found that the most useful items to have in the event of a flat tire are patience, a cellular phone, and towing insurance.

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