The 2024 Chevrolet Blazer first drive: GM’s EV platform goes mainstream

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Enlarge / The new Chevrolet Blazer EV is the latest electric vehicle to use General Motors’ Ultium battery platform.
Jonathan Gitlin

DEL MAR, Calif.—Americans love midsize SUVs—American automotive product planners, at any rate. These SUVs have supplanted sedans and station wagons as the family-mobile of choice, offering all the advantages of a hatchback with a lofty driving position. Now there’s a new one in town, an all-electric version of the Chevrolet Blazer. It’s not an EV conversion of the existing Blazer but a new model built on the same dedicated platform as the Cadillac Lyriq. After a few hours driving the new Blazer EV around the outskirts of San Diego, here’s what we’ve learned.

In time, the Blazer EV will be available in three trims (LT, RS, and SS) and in front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive configurations. But for now, Chevy is starting with the Blazer EV RS, available with either a single motor driving the rear wheels and a larger-capacity battery or an all-wheel drive variant with a smaller-capacity battery pack.

Chevy arranged for us to drive the $57,200 Blazer EV RS RWD first, so let’s start there. It uses a 102 kWh battery pack to achieve an EPA range of 324 miles (521 km), sending that energy to a 340 hp (254 kW), 325 lb-ft (440 Nm) permanent magnet electric motor.

The Blazer EV LT is the middle-of-the-range SUV, designed to commute, take kids to school, and fill up with groceries. Although there's also a police version...
Enlarge / The Blazer EV LT is the middle-of-the-range SUV, designed to commute, take kids to school, and fill up with groceries. Although there’s also a police version…
Jonathan Gitlin

This version can DC fast charge at up to 190 kW—Chevrolet declined to give a time to charge to 80 percent but did say it will add 78 miles (125 km) of range in 10 minutes when charging at that rate.

The other spec that’s on sale right now is the $56,200 Blazer EV RS eAWD. It’s less powerful, offering a combined 288 hp (214 kW) and 333 lb-ft (451 Nm) from a combination of an induction motor at the front axle and a permanent magnet motor at the rear.

The eAWD Blazer is cheaper than the single-motor variant by dint of a battery with almost 17 percent less storage capacity—85 kWh in this case, which is sufficient for an EPA range of 279 miles (450 km). Again, we don’t have a fast-charge time to 80 percent, but it should add 69 miles (111 km) in 10 minutes at a maximum rate of 150 kW.

There's 59.8 cubic feet (1,694 L) of cargo space in the back—more than any other EV in class, Chevy says.
Enlarge / There’s 59.8 cubic feet (1,694 L) of cargo space in the back—more than any other EV in class, Chevy says.
Jonathan Gitlin

Chevrolet told us that the Blazer is aimed at a style-conscious buyer and that the SUV is “Chevy’s boldest design.” It’s different enough from the gas Blazer that you probably wouldn’t mistake one for the other. The front and rear lights play a big role there—at the front the daylight LEDs form a continuous strip across the nose, and the rears jut out slightly, doing double duty as aerodynamic devices.

As for the interior, more than one of the assembled journalists suggested it was “gamer chic”—I confess I found the air vents a little much for my taste.

You select drive or reverse from a column stalk, just like so many American SUVs of the past, and there are physical buttons for some of the climate controls, but otherwise, all your interaction with the car’s menus and subsystems will be via the infotainment screen. This includes the control for the headlights and one-pedal driving.

Enlarge
Jonathan Gitlin

The Blazer EV runs Chevy’s latest Android Automotive OS-based system, which means you can connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, but there is no way to cast via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. I think the two EVs I drove had different builds—Chevy people weren’t thrilled to learn we could see a bug reporter app in the RWD car, and the eAWD model (which we spent about four hours in on the second day) featured fewer apps and felt a little more sluggish to respond.

The 11-inch main instrument screen has several different themes with varying levels of information, so it’s quite easy to find one that suits your taste. However, doing this on the move (from the passenger seat while a colleague was driving) caused some of the 17.7-inch infotainment screen to go blank. I’m still unsure if that was a bug, but tapping one of the (persistent) icons on the top right of the screen brought everything back.

Navigation is by Google Maps, which you can display on the infotainment screen, on the main instrument display, or both, or just use turn-by-turn directions in the heads-up display. There’s also Google’s voice assistant, although after eight years both maps and voice assistants will require a monthly fee (assuming Google is still supporting both).

Driving the RWD Blazer EV on day one in light traffic, I found it easy to place on the road despite how wide it felt from the driver’s seat. Accelerating uphill revealed the car’s mass as inertia and power and torque felt sufficient rather than excessive—there’s a Blazer EV SS coming “as soon as possible” that ticks that particular box.

Having spent a lot of time this year driving EVs with air suspension, the combination of the Blazer EV’s conventional springs and somewhat deteriorating road surfaces proved a little reminder that NVH means noise, vibration, and harshness.

Day two was a longer drive on familiar roads out to Julian. In something like a Mazda MX-5 it would have been heaven, but the eAWD Blazer EV was out of its element—it’s not a car you’d choose to take the long way home in when there’s a perfectly fine freeway, and there was little fun to be derived on the tight and sinuous roads. For one thing, it’s less stiffly sprung than you might expect, particularly compared to something like a Ford Mustang Mach-E.

There’s a one-pedal driving mode you can switch on or off—I found it rather abrupt in the mapping and preferred the default drive mode. This still has some regenerative braking when you lift the throttle, which you can increase by using the brake pedal or the regen paddle on the steering wheel.

The seats lack lateral support, so if you’re driving, you’ll be bracing yourself with the steering wheel. The passenger has a rougher time—almost as if the Blazer EV’s inertial dampeners are on the fritz.

Happily, there was no similar potential for car sickness once we left the twisties and returned to civilization. And there’s enough space in the back to cope with a pair of adults, with room in the cargo area for a Costco run.

The Blazer EV is already on sale, and a quick search online showed at least a thousand across the country, so the days of EV scarcity seem to be over. The Blazer also qualifies for the full clean vehicle tax credit, which GM says it believes will carry on through to next year when much tougher rules on Chinese batteries come into effect.

But the Blazer has also entered an increasingly crowded market, even within its own platform: The Lyriq is not much more expensive, only gives up a few miles of range to the RWD Blazer, and has a rather cool 33-inch display. Honda and Acura are about to bring EVs to market that also use the same underpinnings but will still offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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