If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again. Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive…
If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again.
Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive interior quality and luxury amenities available, it would be easy to surmise that Porsche didn’t have its eye on performance when conceiving its most luxurious car, but after a single lap on the arduous 4.0-km long Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, such thoughts should forever be banished.
The new 2021 Panamera Turbo S was chosen, the quickest of its type yet with 620 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque on tap resulting in a shocking zero to 100km/h launch of just 3.1 seconds and wickedly fast terminal velocity of 315 km/h. The car, set to arrive at Canadian Porsche retailers this spring, managed the fastest time ever set by a production sedan of one minute and 31.51 seconds (1:31.51).
This record, set with professional racing driver Leh Keen at the wheel, beat the new Taycan Turbo S’ single lap time of just 1:33.88 minutes set the month prior in December, although the electrified Porsche continues to hold the track’s production EV title.
“The engineers found a perfect balance,” said Keen. “They really made it feel small and sporty. The stability gave me a ton of confidence to use every bit of the asphalt and curbs. And yet the car has a completely different and more refined and relaxed character on the highway – an amazing combination.”
Along with a luxurious interior filled with premium materials and state-of-the-art electronics, the 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S gets plenty of standard performance equipment that make it as quick on the road as it is on the track, including Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+), rear axle steering, and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport roll-stabilization system (PDCC Sport).
It should be noted that the 2021 Panamera Turbo S example that set the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta production sedan record was upgraded with an optional set of newly-developed road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport cup 2 ND0 ultra-high-performance tires measuring 275/35 ZR 21 103Y XL at the front and 325/30 ZR 21 108Y XL in the rear. The tires’ “N” designation signifies their co-development between Porsche and a tire manufacturer, in this case Michelin. The special tire was in fact designed specifically for the Panamera, and tuned at the legendary Nürburgring race track in Germany.
Also notable, vehicle data acquisition and timing expert Racelogic recorded and verified the Panamera Turbo S’ Road Atlanta lap time utilizing their VBOX video HD2 system.
With the goal of achieving a “Carbon Neutral” model line by 2039, Mercedes continues to expand its all-new EQ electric vehicle lineup with a model that may become its most important overall, if only because its entry-level position within the German brand’s EV hierarchy has the potential to usher in an entirely new group of buyers.
The EQA will likely be the least expensive way to own a Mercedes’ EV when it finally arrives in Canada, although we shouldn’t expect it before calendar year 2022, after the larger EQC arrives, which was recently delayed from its initially reported 2021 launch date to 2022 as well.
The EQC will follow the new EQS mid-size luxury sedan, which was prioritized for North American markets. The large coupe-shaped four-door Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan fighter was moved ahead of the much-anticipated GLC-based EQC compact luxury crossover EV that we reported on at length back in October of 2018.
Brian Fulton, Mercedes-Benz Canada President and CEO, told journalists attending the Montreal International Auto Show in January of 2019, that the EQS, EQC and this EQA will initiate a 10-model EQ line of new EVs, two others including an EQB, based on the new GLB subcompact, and the EQE, riding on modified mid-size GLE SUV architecture.
Where the EQC’s twin electric motors will produce 300 kilowatt (402 horsepower) and 564 lb-ft of torque, the smaller SUV’s first available EQA 250 trim will feature a single 140-kW (188-hp) electric motor focused on efficiency first and foremost. Still, a more potent model is said to produce about 200 kW (268 hp) via a second electric motor driving an opposing set of wheels, resulting in AWD. The thin battery is spread out under the floor to maximize interior room, improve weight distribution, and low the SUV’s centre of gravity for optimal handling.
With respect to the all-important range issue, Mercedes is claiming about 500 kilometres on a single charge, based on Europe’s highly optimistic NEDC and WLTP standards, which means this number will certainly shrink when the EQA arrives on our market. Helping users make the most of stored energy, the EQA will use an intelligent navigation system to plot out the most efficient routes possible after considering real-time traffic, terrain, weather conditions, driving style, and charging requirements.
Efficiency in mind, Mercedes has integrated a standard heat pump to channel warmth generated from the electric powertrain to the passenger compartment, thus increasing range. An Eco Assist system helps reduce battery usage as well, while a plethora of advanced driver assistance and electronic safety tech has been designed to protect the EQA’s most precious cargo.
Mercedes appears to have used wind tunnel testing to achieve the EQA’s slippery 0.28 drag coefficient, but in fact the little SUV’s impressive aerodynamics were entirely achieved digitally, a first for the German automaker. The result includes a very smooth outer skin, boasting a near flush grille and headlamps, a smooth, arcing coupe-like roofline, wind-cheating alloy wheels, and a mostly enclosed underbelly.
This said, the EQA retains the general shape of the recently redesigned gasoline-powered 2021 GLA that it shares architectural hard points with, Mercedes having chosen the appearance of a conventional grille in order to maintain brand identity, and simultaneously avoid the stylistic blandness found on vehicles with no defined grille.
Adding yet more personality, Mercedes has infused the headlamps with blue accents, which should be quite the light show at night. Additionally, an LED light strip visually connects those headlights with a set of daytime running lamps that stretch across the grille, a theme that’s followed in back where organically shaped LED outer lamps connect via a narrowing band across the entire hatch, adding visual width to the otherwise GLA-like rear design.
The EQA’s interior will look familiar to those that have been inside a modern-day Mercedes model, highlighted by the brand’s MBUX two-in-one mono-display incorporating a fully digital primary instrument cluster on the left and infotainment touchscreen to the right, the latter also controllable via a touchpad and switchgear on the lower centre console. Along with the usual functions, the two EQA displays will get a host of EV-specific interfaces, including the upgraded navigation system noted earlier.
The German brand uses ambient lighting to underscore key interior design elements too, while materials quality should be up to par with the already impressive GLA. An available rose gold trim package will be popular with many, the classy colour also featured within the infotainment display for added measure.
Considering its more approachable expected price point, the EQA could do very well in the Canadian market, which traditionally favours smaller cars and SUVs than its American neighbour. The GLA is already a top-three seller in its subcompact luxury SUV segment, although its 3,566 pre-health crisis sales in calendar year 2019 were less than a third of the GLC’s 10,883 best-in-class deliveries, but that shouldn’t cause Mercedes’ Canadian executive team to hold off on the smaller model. The EV market can respond in untraditional ways, after all, so it’s possible a smaller, more affordable alternative could be what the market actually needs.
As it is, Mercedes’ EQS, EQC, and EQE will respectively target Tesla’s Model S, Model Y and Model 3 directly, which has proven to be a formidable task by other EV makers. The EQA and EQB, on the other hand, will occupy niches Tesla hasn’t filled yet, giving the German brand an advantage in an EV sector dominated by the American tech giant.
Currently, Volvo’s XC40 Recharge is the only EV competitor in the subcompact SUV class, with Lexus’ UX merely satisfying Canadian hybrid buyers so far (it’s all-electric UX 300e is not slated for Canada). The electric-gasoline theme continues with the Range Rover Evoque, a mild-hybrid that’s unfortunately not available in Canada, while Mini ups the ante with a plug-in version of its Countryman. Likewise, Audi and BMW will soon offer plug-in hybrids of their own, dubbed Q3 45 TFSI e and X1 xDrive25e respectively, while Audi reportedly has the Q4 e-tron EV coming too, but it’s larger than the Q3, EQA, and other subcompact SUVs.
A fully electrified Mercedes-Benz lineup will certainly add variety to the Canadian EV market, with Mercedes appearing to be leading the charge amongst established luxury brands.
Mercedes’ EQA isn’t available to purchase just yet, but for those wanting a subcompact luxury SUV that still offers plenty of efficiency, take note that remaining 2020 versions of the brand’s GLA-Class are now available with up to $5,000 in additional incentives, whereas redesigned 2021 models can be had with up to $750 in incentives. Visit CarCostCanada’s 2020 and 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA Canada Prices pages to learn more, and also remember that a CarCostCanada membership can provide additional savings from manufacturer rebates when available, factory leasing and financing, as well as dealer invoice pricing that can save you even more. Find out how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download their free app from the Google Play Store and the Apple Store.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz
Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to…
Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to be displayed on their vehicle.
This said, Kia Sedona owners may not have a choice if they choose to trade up to the brand’s fourth-generation minivan when it arrives later this year as a 2022 model, or so claims a VIN decoder published by the Sedona Forum, which sourced its information from the NHTSA.
The mid-size three-row van, set to debut with an entirely new look that says goodbye to the current model’s comparatively conservative front fascia and more fluid lines all-round, and hello to a much more angled, distinctive and upscale design, may be adopting the Carnival nameplate in order to maintain global continuity, which helps a brand make the most of advertising market bleed and more.
Someone watching an NBA basketball game in Asia, for instance (a regular occurrence in some countries), might not realize that the Kia Sedona shown on the HD scoreboard is in fact their market’s Carnival, or alternatively that the Carnival seen by North American F1 fans on electronic billboards around the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the new Jeddah Street Circuit is actually their Sedona (not that any of these marketing campaigns actually exist). Kia did something similar years ago by aligning the name of their Canadian-market Magentis mid-size sedan (the basis for the Sedona, incidentally) with the U.S.-specific Optima, and more recently rebadged this car the K5 in both markets in order to align with the newly redesigned model’s global marketing push.
The van debuted last June in Kia’s home market of South Korea, showing off its sharp new styling and a completely redesigned, more luxurious interior to go along with it. The ultra-plush Hi Limousine variant, boasting business class-seating and premium level refinement, won’t likely enter our market, but the current Sedona raised the bar significantly in the North American minivan segment when it arrived for the 2015 model year, and has steadily been improved since, so we can expect to be impressed with its top-line trims when they arrive.
Initial photos show available twin-screen digital displays that join a configurable gauge cluster and multi-information display up with an extremely large centre-mounted infotainment touchscreen, similarly in concept to Mercedes-Benz with its MBUX system, while the model incorporates a knurled metal-edged rotating gear selector on the lower console, similar to Hyundai and Genesis (and Kia K5) models, putting an end to the traditional gear lever that’s still being used in today’s Sedona.
This will continue to control an eight-speed automatic transmission, connecting through to a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 294 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, which is a significant bump up from the current model’s 276 hp and 248 lb-ft. Other markets will also have the option of a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-powered model, and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the latter good for 202 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, but no one should expect that mill here.
Kia doesn’t offer an all-wheel drive Sedona variant at this time, and it looks as if this will be the case for the Carnival as well, based on information from the aforementioned NHTSA documents and an update by South Korean auto portal Autocast, which also reports that no gasoline-electric hybrid version will be offered either. This will be seen as a negative by environmentally-focused buyers, especially considering Toyota’s new Sienna is only offered with a hybrid power unit that includes standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, Chrysler has long offered a plug-in hybrid Pacifica with real EV driving capability, not to mention an AWD powertrain in its conventionally-powered model.
We can expect details about the Canadian-spec 2022 Carnival to surface sometime this spring, at which point we’ll know more about how this intriguing new entry will stack up against the recently redesigned Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, plus the always strong-selling Stellantis group—FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Peugeot—vans, now including a Chrysler rebranded, entry-level version of the pricier Pacifica minivan dubbed Grand Caravan in order to gain some name recognition advantage from one of Canada’s best-selling nameplates (this model is called Voyageur in the U.S., which ironically pays no heed to the market-bleed concern noted earlier).
When the second-generation Ridgeline arrived on the scene for the 2017 model year, we lauded its drivability, refinement, and creature comforts, but weren’t exactly wowed by its styling. It looked ok,…
When the second-generation Ridgeline arrived on the scene for the 2017 model year, we lauded its drivability, refinement, and creature comforts, but weren’t exactly wowed by its styling. It looked ok, but lacked a certain visual ruggedness necessary for luring in truck buyers in large numbers. Honda appears to be ready to deal with that problem for 2021, thanks to renewed styling that toughens up the mid-size model’s exterior design.
Gone is the Ridgeline’s smooth, wind-cheating grille and sloping hood, replaced by a much bolder, more upright grille and broader, flatter hood with a centre power bulge. This is combined with a more rugged looking lower front fascia and redesigned front fenders, all combining for a truck that looks as capable as the Ridgeline really is.
Changes to the new Ridgeline’s flanks and rear design are much less pronounced, with the former painting the cab’s rearmost extension a stylish black instead of body colour, and the rear bumper losing any chrome embellishment.
The more visually appealing 2021 Ridgeline will go on sale across Canada tomorrow, January 15, starting at $44,355 plus freight and fees for the Ridgeline Sport with standard AWD, while other trims include the Ridgeline EX-L at $47,355, Ridgeline Touring at $51,555, and Ridgeline Black Edition at $53,055. It will start arriving in Canadian dealerships in the beginning of February.
Before you do, be aware that the new grille and other styling enhancements aren’t the only changes made to the 2021 model. The new Ridgeline also benefits from new, brighter LED low beam headlamps with reflector beam halogen high beams, while new more aggressive 18-inch wheels wrapped in new more rugged looking tires join a 20-mm wider track in giving the updated truck greater visual breadth.
The Ridgeline’s interior needed little to make it more welcoming, but nevertheless Honda fitted the centre stack with a revised infotainment touchscreen featuring a real volume knob for quick, easy audio adjustment. With a focus more on style than functionality, all 2021 Ridgeline trims get contrast stitching for the seats, while Sport trims get new fabric seat inserts, and Sport, EX-L and Touring trims add new dash, steering wheel and centre console trim accents. Everything else about the cabin remains the same, including its spacious rear passenger compartment with a flat floor and foldaway 60/40-split rear lower seat cushions.
The Ridgeline’s power unit continues into 2021 unchanged too, the 3.5-litre direct-injected V6 producing up to 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, while its standard nine-speed automatic transmission makes sure fuel economy remains the truck’s trump card, with all trims claiming 12.8 L/100km in the city, 9.9 on the highway and 11.5 combined.
As mentioned earlier, Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is standard, as is its ability to send up to 70 percent of the engine’s twist to the rear wheels when needed, while continuously apportioning up to 100 percent of that torque between left and right rear wheels depending on slip. The Ridgeline’s standard Intelligent Traction Dynamics System enhances power delivery further by attributing engine torque to the wheel with the most traction, whether overcoming wet, snowy, muddy, or sandy conditions.
Of course, optimizing traction benefits safety, as does the 2021 Ridgeline’s standard Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistive technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).
The Ridgeline also does well in U.S. collision safety ratings, with strong National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings, achieving a “GOOD” rating in all IIHS collision tests, and a “SUPERIOR” IIHS rating for frontal crash prevention, while it gets a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score in the European NCAP system.
When checking out the photo gallery above you’ll see the Ridgeline hauling Honda dirt bikes and towing one of the Japanese brand’s ATVs, which should be a good indication this truck can do more than merely out-handle its competition on paved roads. Like the outgoing model, the 2021 Ridgeline can manage up to 1,571 lbs (713 kg) on top of its trunk-infused bed, and gets a 5,000 lb (2,267 kg) trailer rating.
On this note, a friendly reminder to remove the spare tire from the trunk before hauling heavy loads that can’t be removed onto highway shoulder lanes, such as bark mulch or building materials, as it will be inaccessible if you get a flat (and flat tires occur more often when a truck is loaded).
Other than this inconvenience, offset by the convenience of having a lockable trunk embedded under the cargo floor in the first place, the new 2021 Honda Ridgeline looks like a winner.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Honda
Just as the glitter and confetti from all our New Year celebrations is being swept up, Ford and Hyundai have been sweeping up 2021’s North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards.…
Just as the glitter and confetti from all our New Year celebrations is being swept up, Ford and Hyundai have been sweeping up 2021’s North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards.
Yes, it appears as if 2021 is the blue-oval brand’s year to shine as two of its vehicles drove away with class wins, the always best-selling F-150 earning 2021 Truck of the Year honours, and the controversially named Mustang Mach-E silently accepting 2021’s Utility of the Year.
Car of the Year went to Hyundai with its new 2021 Elantra, the reality of which might cause some in Dearborn to wonder what might have happened if the much-lauded (in Europe and other markets) new Focus had been made available in our market.
Notably, the just-noted Truck of the Year finalists are merely significantly upgraded trims of models already available in 2020, leaving the winning F-150 as the only entirely redesigned model entered into this year’s North American Truck of the Year class. How this may have impacted the Truck of the Year results is not known.
What do you get when you combine a Camaro and a Traverse? No, I wasn’t going to say Caverse or Tamaro, as fun as such word games are (not), but if you guessed Blazer (the title might’ve given it away)…
What do you get when you combine a Camaro and a Traverse? No, I wasn’t going to say Caverse or Tamaro, as fun as such word games are (not), but if you guessed Blazer (the title might’ve given it away) you’d be right.
Of course, any comparisons to the Camaro are relegated to the new Blazer’s outlandish styling, especially in sportiest RS trim, along with the top-line models’ 3.6-litre V6, which combine for one of the hottest looking and fastest crossover SUVs in the mainstream volume sector.
What it’s not is, um, a Blazer, or at least not in the traditional sense. Unlike in other markets where the similarly named Trailblazer is a now non-conventional body-on-frame truck-based SUV that shares its underpinnings and body shell hard points with the Isuzu mu-X, our Blazer is a similarly sized crossover SUV based on Chevy’s new(ish) C1XX platform architecture shared with the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, plus the aforementioned Traverse, Buick Enclave and Caddy XT6 in extended form, and via the car-designated E2XX platform, the Chevy Malibu, various now discontinued Buick Regal models, and Cadillac XT4 (as well as the defunct Chevy Impala and Buick Lacrosse in extended P2XX form). Got that?
While that 2.8-litre turbo-diesel-powered Trailblazer is a go-anywhere rock crawler, river runner, mud-spewer, etcetera capable of negotiating the nether-regions of the Grand Canyon (possible via the Diamond Creek road that departs from the town of Peach Springs, Arizona located on the famed Route 66, incidentally), mated to a solidly built six-speed automatic that drives a part-time 4WD system, the new Blazer RS is more of a canyon carver sporting a detuned version of the aforementioned Camaro V6, a new nine-speed autobox, and standard AWD.
This is where I start grumbling about an opportunity lost, especially egregious now that FoMoCo fanatics are whooping it up over the all-new Bronco lineup, and the Jeep faithful are forever laughing in the faces of disenfranchised bowtie fanboys crying in their herbal tea at the loss of the once great Blazer nameplate.
Sure, the General still makes a body-on-frame SUV, but for many the full-size Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon are too big, these Silverado/Sierra related SUVs actually the spiritual successors of the original 1969–1994 Blazer K5/Jimmy. The ‘70s fuel crisis and call to go small that followed, resulted in the compact pickup-based 1983–2005 S-10 Blazer and S-15 Jimmy, which were sized more along the lines of the current Wrangler and Bronco, this now being the 4×4 sweet spot due to off-road manoeuvrability, agility and the ability to drive farther into wilderness on a tank of fuel. But where is the Blazer? It’s taking the kids to school and running mall errands.
It’s not like 4×4-capable SUVs aren’t popular these days. They’re selling well and doing their best to enhance brand images that, trucks aside, are somewhat soft around their edges now that most SUVs are car-based. Like this Blazer, the majority aren’t even attempting to look like traditional sport utilities anymore, let alone claim any off-road territory. Those who read my ramblings regularly know that I’d never normally complain about this soft-ute scenario, because some truly spectacular performance-oriented car-based utilities have been introduced in recent years, but diluting a classic 4×4 name like Blazer to grocery-getter status is almost as bad as slapping the Camaro badge on an electric crossover! Yup, I’m talking to you Mustang Mach-E.
At least the Blazer RS kind of looks like a Camaro, especially in its raciest red colour scheme. Love it or lump it, no one can argue against its ability to pull eyeballs, but don’t expect its squared-off dual exhaust to rumble like a ZL1, let alone an LT1 with the V6 upgrade. The Blazer’s version of Chevy’s 3.6-litre six doesn’t make 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque either, although in this bread-and-butter class its 308 hp and 270 ft-lb are nothing to sneeze at, resulting in a respectable sprint of about 6.5 seconds from zero to 100 km/h. Sure, that’s still 0.5 seconds shy of Ford’s Edge ST, but you look faster standing still in the Chevy.
That in mind, be grateful we don’t get the U.S.-spec 2.5-litre four as our base engine, that mill only churning out 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. Instead, our entry-level Blazer powerplant is more or less the same 2.0-litre turbo-four found in the base Camaro (see a pattern here?), pushing out 227 ponies and 258 lb-ft instead of 275 and 295 respectively in the less muscular version of Chevy’s muscle car. This is where I probably shouldn’t mention that the 2.0-litre turbo in Ford’s base Edge is good for 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, but I never was very good at holding back things I shouldn’t say.
The just-noted Ford gets an eight-speed automatic throughout its range, which is impressive, but kudos to Chevy for going one step further by mating both Blazer engines to a fancy new nine-speed autobox. It gets no paddles, mind you, even in its sportiest RS trim, leaving those who want to get frisky a little thumb-actuated rocker switch on the shifter knob that, truth be told, isn’t any more engaging than slapping the entire gear lever back and forth. Fortunately, the transmission shifts effortlessly if not quickly, but even with its racy looks I don’t see most owners rowing through their Blazer RS gears as if this SUV were a Le Mans-spec’d Corvette C7.R.
As noted earlier, all RS trimmed Blazers come standard with all-wheel drive in Canada, and I like that it’s a part-time system that can be driven solely by the front wheels when rear traction is not needed, helping save money at the pump, where V6-powered Blazers get a claimed 13.1 L/100km in the city, 9.4 on the highway and 11.4 combined. When all wheels are required, simply turn a rotating knob on the lower console from “x2” to “x4” and you won’t be slip-sliding away any longer. Another twist of the dial engages sport mode, while mountain and towing modes are also included.
With sport mode engaged, the V6-equipped Blazer really pulls strongly from standstill, almost fully living up to the performance promised by its neck-snapping styling. The transmission’s two-second-plus shift intervals will quickly tame any unbridled enthusiasm, which is likely why no paddles were included, but the gearbox kicks down nicely for passing purposes and very real power is ever-present, this a real bonus through the corners was well.
Yes, the RS, complete with nice meaty 265/45R21 Continental CrossContact all-seasons, did a good job carving up the local country backroads, always remaining planted in its lane even when pushed hard, and not leaning over as much as most in this class. Still, its well-sorted suspension never got too harsh, defaulting to compliance as a vehicle in this family class should.
Comfort is king in the SUV sector, and nowhere is this more obvious than the new Blazer RS’ cabin. Sure, its interior styling does its best to pull off a five-seat Camaro look, but Chevy isn’t fooling anyone, which is a good thing. Let’s face it, as impressive as the Camaro is as a muscle car, it’s not designed for hauling families. That’s the Blazer’s first priority, and it does a better job of this than anything else.
It’s wide and long for a five-seater, with ample cabin space for large folks front to rear, not to mention cargo aplenty in back. It gets the usual 60/40-split rear seatbacks for expanding its gear-toting capacity, so should serve most buyers’ needs to a tee.
It’s also quite luxurious for the class, with no shortage of soft-touch surfacing throughout, Chevy continuing the black on red exterior theme with a red on black motif inside, including the circular dash-mounted HVAC bezels, the perforated leather seats, the piping and contrast stitching on those seats and elsewhere, and even a little “RS” badge on the shift knob. The interior further gets a tasteful assortment of bright and brushed metallic trim too, with its general fit, finish, materials quality up to par with others in this class.
Better than many, however, is the Blazer’s collection of electronic displays, this being a criterion that Chevy deserves high marks. The gauge cluster isn’t fully digital, but the 8.0-inch multi-information display at centre is brilliantly executed with clear, high resolution quality, nice brightly coloured graphics, and a serious assortment of functions. The main infotainment touchscreen at dash-central is even better, mostly because of its simple, straightforward yet highly attractive graphics and all-round ease-of-use. It also comes packed full of features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an accurate navigation system, a clear rearview camera, and more.
Additional RS features included a large panoramic glass sunroof overhead, a heatable steering wheel and heated front seats, dual-zone auto HVAC, a hands-free power liftgate, a sportier grille, and all the blackened exterior trim noted before.
In the end, the new Blazer RS is either going to rock your world or leave you wondering what Chevy was even thinking, there is no middle ground. I like the brand’s boldness in this regard, and on that note the Blazer name is theirs, and they can do with it what they want, Chevy 4×4 loyalists be damned. You’ve got to respect that kind of bravado, good choice or bad.
Base Blazer LT pricing starts at $37,198 plus freight and fees, with the as-tested RS model available from $46,698. Sales of all trims have been quite strong, so obviously it has targeted the Canadian market well and deserves the success it’s achieving.