Used 1996 Chevrolet Blazer Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

More power, available all-wheel drive and five new colors improve the 1996 Blazer. A five-speed manual transmission is optional on two-door models.

Vehicle overview

More than a decade after launching the compact sport-utility blitz in 1982 with the S-10 Blazer, General Motors finally saw fit to totally redesign this veteran for the 1995 model year. Still based on the S-10 chassis, but dropping the S-10 nomenclature, the 1995 Blazer was a vast improvement over its predecessor.

Powered by a strong 4.3L V6 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 five, but four would most likely be more comfortable. Lots of cargo space too, with the spare tire mounted underneath the cargo floor. Chevy claims that, with the rear seat folded, a washing machine box will fit into the cargo bay. Not bad. Sadly, the Blazer's interior is marred by acres of chintzy plastic and low-mounted rear seats offering little in the way of thigh support. Adult rear seat riders will complain loudly.

Off-road is not where the latest Blazer shines, unless equipped with the ZR2 off-road package. Regular Blazers are capable enough for two-track dirt, but serious off-road adventures would be better handled by another make and model. 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 was phased in during the 1995 model year, making the Blazer even more sure-footed. Five new exterior and one new interior color debut for 1996. The Vortec V6 has been improved, as have automatic transmissions. Two-wheel drive models can be ordered with a five-speed manual transmission this year. Daytime running lights are standard equipment, as well as a driver airbag and four-wheel antilock brakes. A passenger airbag is not expected until 1998, and that's too bad. The Blazer could certainly use one according to its crash test scores.

The Blazer won North American Truck of the Year last January, as well as Motor Trend's Truck of the Year award, but the best thing about the new Blazer is its price. With base models starting well under Jeep Grand Cherokee and less than the Ford Explorer, the Blazer represents real value. However, poor crash test scores prevent us from recommending this Chevy. Hey, you get what you pay for.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.