New Car/Review

1997 CHEVROLET BLAZER 4WD 2-DOOR LS

by Tom Hagin

chevrolet

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 22,241
     Price As Tested                                    $ 25,730
     Engine Type                             4.3 Liter V6 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                 262 cid/4300 cc
     Horsepower                                   190 @ 4400 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               250 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  100.5"/67.8"/174.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3874 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                    19 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P235/70R15
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/22/20          
     0-60 MPH                                        9.1 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.9 seconds @ 79 mph
     Towing Capacity                                 5000 pounds
     * Sequential Fuel Injection

Even after several years on the market as a new model, the Chevrolet Blazer is often confused with Chevy's full-sized sport utility vehicle, the Tahoe, which used to be a Blazer. But the new Blazer is the smaller model, and is related to the S-10 version introduced back in 1983.

Our tester for the week was a two-door LS 4X4, loaded with comfortable features.

OUTSIDE - Our two-door tester offers a much different look than the four-door version. It's shorter, of course, but exudes a more rugged appearance. And because of its tidy design, Blazer appears smaller than others in its class, but that isn't the case. It's about mid-pack in size, and GM engineers say that it was designed specifically to deliver the interior room of the competition, yet in a sleeker, more contemporary package. It seems rounded and smoothed in all the right places, and capable of moving through the next few years without a major remake. On our two-door test model, the spare tire was optionally mounted outside the tailgate, which saves interior space. It also wore standard 15-inch cast aluminum wheels and beefy P235/70R15 tires.

INSIDE - Things are cozy inside Blazer. You sit tall in the saddle and have a clear view of the road ahead. The seats could use a bit more lateral and thigh support, but they're otherwise comfortable on long trips. The same can't be said of the rear seating, however, because the seats are low and flat, and climbing back there can be tough. The front passenger seat slides forward automatically when the seatback is flipped, however, which helps things somewhat. All Blazer models come standard with such items as air conditioning, rear seat heater ducts, variable speed intermittent wipers and an AM/FM stereo. Buying a Blazer with LS trim adds tilt steering and cruise control, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, and an uplevel stereo with a cassette player. Our test vehicle came with a Preferred Equipment Package that includes an uplevel suspension, bigger tires, remote keyless entry, a six-way power driver's seat and an overhead console.

ON THE ROAD - There's only one engine choice with Blazer, but it's a good one. The 4.3 liter V6 under the Blazer hood packs 190 horsepower and a whopping 250 lb-ft of torque. It gives excellent acceleration and throttle response, while its beefy torque figure allows for some impressive towing capabilities. It uses a durable "serpentine" belt to operate such ancillary mechanicals as the power steering and water pumps, and the alternator. The standard Blazer 4WD system uses what GM calls Insta-Trac mechanicals, a part-time 4WD system that can be shifted into and out of 4WD at speed from a floor-mounted lever. An electronic shift transfer case can be optionally added and makes selecting 4WD as easy as pushing a button. On two-door models only, a five-speed manual transmission is listed as an option and carries a price credit if chosen over the standard four-speed automatic.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Six different suspension systems are available with Blazer, though only four of six can be had with the two-door model. All use independent front suspension components, with upper and lower control arms, an anti-roll bar and either torsion bars on 4WD or coil springs on 2WD models. The rear setup consists of a solid rear axle, two-stage leaf springs and another anti-roll bar. Our test vehicle came with the firm ride Touring package, which is slightly stiffer than the base suspension, and exudes a bit of its off-road intentions. The ZM6 Off-Road suspension is designed to tackle the most demanding of dirt trails, but even more rugged is the ZR2 Wide Stance package, an option on two-door models that turns Blazer into a serious off-road machine. The steering system is variable-rate and power-assisted, which seems to be the system of choice these days, while braking duties are handled by front discs and rear drums, with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - A driver's-side airbag, ABS, daytime running headlamps and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS - The Preferred Package is $2,341, while the full-sized spare tire and carrier is $234.

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