Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Americans do things differently. Those of us of a certain age remember when imports had a minority of the market share and Asian vehicles stood out because of the different approaches they had to performance, efficiency, design, materials and workmanship.
We thought their cars were "different" and ours were "normal".
In the last 30 or so years, the equation has flipped. Legacy domestic automakers like GM and Ford don't have dominant market shares and so the 2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD finds itself up against rivals like the Toyota Venza, Honda Passport, Nissan Murano and Hyundai Santa Fe, which have sold in great enough numbers that their approaches to design, performance and materials are considered the standard. It would be easy to simply copy the Asian two-row crossovers---take the strong points of each, put them in a blender, pour it into a mold, slap a Chevy bowtie logo on the hatch and call it a day.
And Chevy didn't.
For example, most of the Blazer's competitors are working with smaller four-cylinder engines or even hybrids---and yes, the base Blazer engine is a 2.5-liter four, with a 2.0-liter turbo four available, but the RS wants to live up to those legendary initials, which stood for "Rally Sport" on first-generation Camaros. It's packing a 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower and 270 pounds per foot of torque.
With all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring and a nine-speed automatic transmission, zero-to-60 runs happen in about six seconds flat. And the handling is far more athletic than you might expect from a mid-size crossover SUV. There's a moderate fuel economy penalty for that performance, with an EPA estimate of 19 miles per gallon city and 26 highway.
The interior of the 2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD also pushes the family connection to the Camaro, with red stitching on the seats, red accents on the air vents (the ones in the center also serve as the temperature controls---you adjust by turning the outer ring) and the shapes of many elements of the dash (I had to confirm that via pictures---incredibly, it's been ten years since my last Camaro review). And simply by doing shout-outs to the Camaro, the interior becomes unmistakably American.
Base Blazers start at $28,800, but the 2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD begins at $43,700. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 20-inch wheels, and eight-inch touchscreen entertainment system with navigation, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.
There was $3,980 in extra-cost options on our test vehicle, most of them in equipment groups. All of them were worthwhile, and I'll let you check them out for yourself on the window sticker below, but for consistency's sake, I'll once again bust GM for making adaptive cruise control (which maintains a consistent distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, even if that vehicle suddenly slows) not only an extra-cost option but part of a $1,650 package. Nearly all of Blazer's direct competitors offer it as standard equipment---as do some $20,000 econoboxes.
With $1,195 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD is $48,875.
Assuming you don't need a third row, the Blazer makes a strong case for itself, even at a price edging close to $50k. Performance-oriented crossover SUVs aren't thick on the ground, and Chevy's very cleverly found a way to tie theirs in with the iconic Camaro.