A Real Blazer: Why GM Needs an SUV to Battle the Bronco & 4Runner
When Chevy reintroduced the storied Blazer name for the 2019 model year, there was naturally some disappointment from fans and enthusiasts about GM’s decision to bring the back the nameplate on a car-based crossover SUV.
The Blazer and it’s identical cousin, the GMC Jimmy, first appeared back in 1969 as a short wheelbase, two-door SUV version of GM’s C10 truck and later as a smaller two or four-door SUV based on the S-10 pickup.
Over the decades of production, the Blazer and Jimmy earned legions of fans, even in a time period before SUVs dominated American vehicle sales charts. So it wasn’t surprising to see GM revive the nameplate for the modern era.
But with its front wheel drive sedan underpinnings and styling influenced more by the Camaro than by a rugged SUV, the new Blazer isn’t what many were hoping for. But that doesn’t mean it would require a big leap for GM to build a proper successor.
To see that, all you have to do is look across the Chevy and GMC lineups to the Colorado and Canyon pickups, which provide the perfect platform for a potential mid-size SUV with genuine capability, and developing one wouldn't be terribly difficult.
The Colorado and Canyon pickups are both well into their second generation, and GM has done a lot of work to keep them competitive in important midsize truck segment that also includes the Toyota Tacoma and more recently, the Ford Ranger.
Here in the US market, the Colorado and Canyon offer either a naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 or a 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel. You can, of course, get four-wheel drive and there are couple models geared specifically toward off-road use.
The Colorado ZR2 in particular is one of the most capable 4x4s you can buy right now. Among its modifications are a wider track, long travel suspension, DSSV dampers and a ton of other tricks that have earned it serious praise from experienced off-roaders.
With little doubt about the capabilities of the platform, the idea of a Colorado-based SUV seems to make lot of sense. While the full size Tahoe and Yukon continue to be popular, they are large and expensive. GM offers tons of crossovers, but none that have any real off-road capability or towing capacity.
A Colorado-based SUV would occupy a perfect middle ground and give GM a direct competitor, to Toyota's ever-popular 4Runner, and would expand the truck's customer base to those who prefer an enclosed SUV over a pickup.
How cool would a an SUV version of the Colorado ZR2 be? It would be a modern reincarnation of the old Blazer ZR2 from the 1990s and a welcome addition to go against the likes of the 4Runner TRD Pro.
We all know that the Ford Bronco will soon be joining the segment and getting a lot of attention, and like this theoretical "real" Blazer, the Bronco shares its underpinnings with the existing Ford Ranger midsize pickup.
While it's likely too late in the model run for GM to build an SUV version of the current Colorado, here's hoping this is something they are considering. Whether it uses the name Blazer, Jimmy or something totally new, a proper Blazer successor would be a lot more interesting than just another new crossover.
To get a better idea of just how capable the Colorado ZR2 can be, check out our video feature of one particularly good overlanding build.