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Blazer is not the newest mid-size SUV you could buy. Indeed, Chevy is launching the all-new 2002 TrailBlazer, a bigger four-door model to better compete with the Ford Explorer. But the Chevy Blazer still has a loyal following, particularly among younger buyers, and it will continue to be sold until 2003. The Blazer remains a competent vehicle and it costs much less than the new models.
The engine fires off eagerly with a twist of the key and settles to an idle that's steady but telegraphs some of the basic imbalance of a 90-degree V6. That smoothes as revs increase, and in the operating range between 2000 and 3000 rpm the Vortec is a friendly companion. Full throttle causes the V6 to accelerate with a healthy growl that gets louder as revs rise. The Blazer's acceleration is more than adequate to keep up with traffic.
The standard Touring suspension is very much in touch with the road, a characteristic not everyone will appreciate. But the reward is an easily discernable improvement in responsiveness, a reduction in float and, thanks to greater roll resistance, less lean in the corners. The result is an overall greater feel of control and confidence at the minor cost of a slightly bumpier ride.
The Auto 4WD mode can be used at all times. It keeps the transfer case in two-wheel drive until slip occurs, so there's no fuel-mileage penalty. Yet it reacts instantly to loose gravel or wet or icy pavement, shifting seamlessly into four-wheel drive. If there's any shortcoming in the system, it's that the driver isn't alerted when the system is shifting into four-wheel-drive mode (as on cars that use warning lights to indicate when traction control is functioning).
Out on the Interstate, the Blazer cruises effortlessly. The V6 operates in the low 2000-rpm range at highway speeds and, except for a subtle bass-line from the engine and a steady road rumble up through the suspension, the ride is quiet enough for easy conversation between front and rear passengers. The tires selected by Chevrolet are free of whine and aren't so heavy as to overwhelm the suspension. A slight whisper of wind noise around the A-pillars is the only other distraction. The ride, though firm, is not at all harsh or jiggly. Not all sport utilities are this civilized over the road, and we wouldn't hesitate to drive a high-mile day in the Blazer.
Loading for a big trip would be easy. Access to the commodious cargo compartment is via a rear liftgate. A cargo cover is standard; unlike those that require you to climb into the cargo area to unreel them, the Blazer's cover goes from side to side. Nothing is in the way when you want to lower the rear seats to load large items: the cover reel need not be removed and become itself another piece of cargo. And with the spare mounted under the rear, a flat tire won't mean unloading your load.
The Blazer is one of the reasons so many people use a sport-utility in place of a car. It will do everything a car will do, and almost as well. Plus it adds almost unstoppable mobility in the worst weather and the capability to go where the roads don't. The LT offers a long list of standard equipment popular with buyers, meaning no excuses in day-to-day use or when trading it in. Although with a list like the Blazer's, that day won't have to come too soon...unless it's to step into the Blazer's replacement.