What's New for 2002
Most new additions for 2002 involve cosmetic enhancements such as new exterior colors and optional sport stripes on the Xtreme model. LS models get a monotone paint scheme along with newly styled wheels.
Back in 1982, Chevrolet rolled out the S-10 Blazer, the first modern compact sport-utility vehicle. Two decades later, the Blazer remains a strong seller in one of the hottest automotive markets. The fact that it still offers a two-door bodystyle is one reason for its continued popularity. Chevrolet has scaled down the available trim levels this year, but the Blazer still offers just about every feature you would want in a basic, reasonably priced sport-ute.
There are three basic models to choose from: two-door LS, four-door LS and two-door Xtreme. LS models offer either two- or four-wheel drive, while the Xtreme is available as a two-wheel drive only.
LS models feature your standard complement of equipment and options. Cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, power windows and locks are all standard. Optional upgrades include a leather seating package, Bose stereo system and remote keyless entry. All Blazers feature the 4.3-liter Vortech V6 engine rated at 190 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. LS-trim Blazers come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the Xtreme model comes with a five-speed manual, with the four-speed an available option. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on all models.
There are accommodations for as many as six passengers in the four-door Blazer, but we wouldn't recommend squeezing that many in for anything but a short trip. There's lots of cargo space, 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. Sadly, the Blazer's interior is marred by acres of chintzy plastic and precious little foot room in front of a rather low and mushy seat. Adult passengers won't find the rear accommodations much better.
The Blazer offers a reasonably controlled ride on the pavement, although there's a little more body roll in the turns than we would like. The transmission shifts smoothly and the engine is strong off the line, but it runs out of breath in the higher rpm ranges. All 4x4 models can be equipped with the AutoTrac push-button electronic transfer case. This four-wheel-drive system features an Auto mode that automatically engages four-wheel drive when it senses wheel slippage. This gives drivers the fuel economy of two-wheel drive and the safety of four-wheel drive without having to play with finicky shift levers. For those who don't need four-wheel drive and would prefer something a little sportier, check out the Blazer Xtreme. This two-door, two-wheel-drive-only model features a lowered sport-tuned suspension, deep-dish wheels with low-profile tires, extended lower body cladding, deep-tinted windows and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A sunroof and upgraded stereos are also available to enhance the Xtreme's street machine image. If you're looking for a two-door midsize sport-ute, the Blazer and Ford's Explorer Sport are about the only games in town. With a starting price thousands less than the Ford, the Blazer is the obvious choice for value-conscious shoppers. Of course, that price lands you some low-quality interior materials and a somewhat dated design, but we would hardly call the Explorer Sport much of an improvement. If you plan on actually using your sport-utility as a utility vehicle, the Blazer would probably serve you well; but if you want all the refinement that modern SUVs offer, you'll have to pony up for one of the newer designs on the market.