What's New for 1997
Those who prefer a liftgate over a tailgate have that option on 1997 four-door Blazers. A power sunroof is a new option for all Blazers, and models equipped with LT decor are equipped with a HomeLink transmitter that will open your garage, among other things. All-wheel-drive Blazers get four-wheel disc brakes, and automatic transmissions are revised for smoother shifting. Early-production 4WD two-door Blazers could be ordered with a ZR2 suspension package. Base Blazers get a chrome grille, while LT four-door models have body-color grilles in six exterior colors. Two new paint colors round out the changes.
Back in 1982, Chevrolet rolled out the S-10 Blazer, the first modern compact sport-utility vehicle. Fifteen years later, the Blazer remains a bestseller in one of the hottest automotive markets. It's not hard to understand the Blazer's appeal.
Powered by a strong 4.3-liter, 190-horsepower, V6 engine and offering several suspension choices, the Blazer can be tailored to specific needs; with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive, two doors or four. The four-door is the most popular by far; the model of choice with families on the go.
There are accommodations for as many as six passengers, but four would most likely be more comfortable. Lots of cargo space too, with the spare tire mounted underneath the cargo floor on four-door models. Chevy claims that, with the rear seat folded, a washing machine box will fit into the cargo bay. We tried it with a test vehicle, and they aren't fibbing. Sadly, the Blazer's interior is marred by acres of chintzy plastic and little rear foot room in front of a somewhat low and mushy seat. Adult rear seat riders will complain loudly.
Off-road is not where the Blazer shines, though a heavy-duty ZR2 suspension package is optional this year. Available only on two-door 4WD models, the ZR2 Blazer has a special chassis with four-inch wider track, huge 31-inch tires, specially-tuned Bilstein 46mm shocks, drivetrain refinements, an underbody shield package, and LS trim. Regular Blazers are capable enough for two-track dirt, but serious off-road adventures would be better handled by something with more wheel travel. However, most families don't spend much, if any, time off-road in their sport-utes, so this is not a large shortcoming. As a road going hauler, the Blazer is quite capable. An all-wheel drive option is available on four-door models with LT decor, making the Blazer even more sure-footed.
For 1997, Chevrolet offers an optional liftgate on the four-door Blazer. Standard is a two-piece hatch and tailgate. The new liftgate features separately opening glass and a rear washer/wiper system with rear defroster. A power sunroof is new to the options list, and LT models have a new HomeLink transmitter that will operate up to three remote-controlled systems as you pull up to your estate. Also new to the LT are body-color grilles in six exterior colors; base models drop their gray grille in favor of chrome. Order all-wheel drive on your Blazer LT and you'll get four-wheel disc brakes in place of the standard front disc/rear drum setup. Two new exterior colors debut for 1997: Fairway Green Metallic and Medium Beige Mystique Metallic. Finally, transmission improvements result in smoother shifts.
When the current Blazer debuted for the 1995 model year, it won the North American Truck of the Year award. Smart styling, a powerful drivetrain, and reasonable pricing made it a hit with the public. Lately, however, the competition has caught up with the Blazer. A new V6 engine goes into the more refined Ford Explorer for 1997, and it is more powerful than the Blazer's motor. Jeep updated the Cherokee this year, offering dual airbags and four-wheel drive for less than $20,000. The Blazer isn't the value it used to be. We certainly like this sport-ute, however, poor crash test scores prevent us from recommending it.