Chevrolet is getting into EVs in a big way, the bowtie brand beginning to ramp up production of an all-electric Silverado, prepping the Equinox EV for a launch next year, and confirming the Bolt nameplate will return in all-new form. But the spotlight now is on a battery-powered version of one of its most popular model lines. And Headlight.News spent several days in sunny San Diego getting a chance to drive two versions of the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV.
It’s not quite the same when you don’t stop for some pie. The old gold mining town of Julian is a familiar destination for those of us scribes who find San Diego a good place to test out new vehicles. You’ll find whatever sort of road you want, whether along the coast, through downtown or on one of the big freeways, though I usually prefer heading inland for a trip through the steep Peninsula Range mountains.
It doesn’t hurt to have a familiar place to stop for a beverage and baked goods at the Julian Pie Company. But, for the first time I can recall, I’ve rolled right by the familiar stop. I’m having too much fun behind the wheel of the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV.
Plenty of options
Chevy is taking its time rolling out the new Blazer EV, as it has with other recent battery-electric vehicles based on its new Ultium technology. Part of that’s due to manufacturing bottlenecks, part of it’s a conscious effort to avoid the sort of quality snags that can destroy a new product’s image. Add the fact that the bowtie brand is bringing out a variety of different Blazer EV trim packages.
And here it’s taking a radically different approach as the first vehicle — at least in modern times — to offer buyers a choice of three different powertrain layouts: front-, rear- and all-wheel drive. Add the high-performance Blazer SS pAWD package and there’s at least some validity to the automaker’s claim that, with the Blazer EV, there’s “something for everybody.”
Power to the people
Here’s a quick look at the lineup:
- Blazer EV LT eAWD uses two electric motors producing a combined 288 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque;
- Blazer EV LT FWD won’t be launched until sometime next year and space haven’t been released;
- Blazer EV RS eAWD makes the same, 288 hp and 333 lb-ft as the LT all-wheel-drive package;
- Blazer EV RS RWD makes 340 hp and 326 lb-ft from its single rear motor;
- Blazer EV SS pAWD is the performance option, its front and rear motors delivering 557 hp and 648 lb-ft.
Range and charging
Blazer is offered with two battery packs:
- An 88 kWh pack on the LT and RS all-wheel-drive models good for 279 miles per charge; and
- A 102 kWh pack on the RS RWD model capable of an EPA-estimated 324 miles
Chevy will use the 102 kWh pack on the SS pAWD but it hasn’t announced range. Expect this performance package to come in below that of the RWD RS, however. Also TBA, battery and range specs for the front drive LT, which will bookend the Blazer EV lineup as its base offering.
As for charging, Blazer will be one of the faster EVs on the market. Expect the smaller battery to add 69 miles in 10 minutes using a 150 kW charger, the big battery adding 78 miles in the same time when plugged into a 190 kW public quick charger. Based on what parent General Motors has done with the 100 kWh pack in the Cadillac Lyriq, it’s likely Blazer will go from a 20% to 80% state-of-charge in about 40 minutes. To go from 0% to 100% should take about 10 hours at a 240-volt Level 2 charger.
Longer, lower, sleeker, roomier
At 192.6 inches in total length, the Blazer EV is 0.7 inches longer than the gas-powered SUV, though it sits slightly lower. The EV is also wider, at 78 inches, and adds nearly 10 more inches of wheelbase by moving the wheels as close to the corners as possible. It does that by taking advantage of the skateboard-style Ultium platform which places wheels and batteries below the load floor.
A flat load floor, it turns out, since there’s no need for a driveshaft. All-wheel-drive models use separate motors mounted on the front and rear axles.
As for as passengers are concerned, this all translates into class-above interior space, with as much as 60 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats folded down, 26 when they’re up. The one disappointment is the lack of a frunk, or front trunk.
The conventional Blazer is, to my eyes, one of the most attractive of GM’s SUVs. And the long, low and wide dimensions of the EV yield proportions for an even sportier, head-turning design. Cheating the wind with features like the sealed grille and high-mounted rear spoiler help in the looks department, as well. And Blazer somehow manages to avoid become a cliché with the lightbar that runs across the nose, just below its grille.
Slip inside and you might have a hard time believing this is a Chevrolet, were it not for the bowtie badge on the steering wheel. There’s a sophisticated feel to the roomy cabin, with well-appointed fabrics, soft-touch materials and sophisticated air vents.
The horizontal layout of the instrument panel accentuates the roominess of the Blazer EV, and it gets a decidedly high-tech appearance thanks to the 11-inch digital gauge cluster and 17.7-inch infotainment touchscreen standard on all models.
On the downside, I initially found it a challenge figuring out how to operate features like the seat heaters and even the headlights, though Chevy wisely did offer some more conventional controls for the climate control system.
There are plenty of other high-tech features, including an array of advanced driver assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keeping assist and rear park assist, among other features. The SS comes standard with a head-up display — an option that I enjoyed on the two versions of the Blazer EV RS I drove in San Diego.
There’s also GM’s optional Super Cruise, the system that lets a motorist drive hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of U.S. limited-access roadways.
GM’s new UltiFi electrical architecture, meanwhile, will allow the automaker to revise or upgrade Blazer’s software — among other things, adding new features in the future — using smartphone-style over-the-air updates.
On the road
My trip to San Diego began with an hour’s drive behind the wheel of the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS RWD. It might come as a surprise that it makes more horsepower, at 340, than the eAWD package, but torque is ever so slightly lower, at 326 lb-ft. (The two-motor alternative comes in at 288 hp and 333 lb-ft.)
The added horsepower helps, and the rear bias of the package was apparent as I scurried around the winding foothill roads east of downtown San Diego, before winding up along the coast.
My time behind the wheel of the RS eAWD model was more extensive, clocking about 150 miles over the course of five hours. There was a subtle difference in the driving manners, the all-wheel-drive layout yielding a little less sporty of a feel, especially when charging into tight corners.
If there was anything disappointing, I found even the more powerful RS RWD model could use a bit more low-end performance, somewhat surprising considering the good torque numbers. I’ll have to wait to see what the upcoming SS delivers.
But both models were pleasing to drive. The electric power steering was predictable and offered more road feel than a number of current EV SUVs. With the batteries and motors mounted under the load floor, Blazer EV has a surprisingly low center of gravity that clearly enhances its handling when compared to the conventional Blazer.
It allowed me to whip both models aggressively around corners, The one negative was the moderately rough feel of the suspension on rough pavement.
Some readers might disagree with me but one of my favorite EV features is One-Pedal driving. For those unfamiliar with how EVs work, they recapture kinetic energy normally lost during braking and coasting, sending it back to the batteries to enhance range. That’s why I was able to come within a hair’s breadth — about 15 miles — of matching the EPA-estimated 279 mile range of the RS eAWD, even while climbing to 6,000 feet while driving what I’ll euphemistically refer to as “aggressively.”
The level of “regen” can be adjusted and, in the Blazer EV there are several settings. On curvy and hilly back roads, I normally opt for “High,” which essentially feels like you’ve downshifted a gas-powered vehicle several gears. Lift off the throttle and you’ll quickly slow and even come to a complete stop.
Blazer EV adds a nice touch: a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that boosts regen even more. Even on steep downhill runs on the way back down from Julian, I rarely had to bounce back and forth from throttle to brake. I could simply modulate the throttle.
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Pricing and availability
EV sales exploded over the last several years, going from barely 1% of the U.S. new car market to 8% this year. The pace of growth has been slowing. Some blame still goes to range anxiety, though charger anxiety — concerns about the lack of a vibrant public infrastructure — have also become a real issue. Then there’s pricing. The average EV is going for roughly $60,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. And that’s right about where the RS trim starts — at $60,215 for the rear-wheel-drive model — before factoring in delivery fees.
As for the LT, the eAWD package comes in at the low to mid- $50,000 range, with the front-drive package expected to be the base offering. It bookends the lineup, with a well-equipped Blazer EV SS expected to push well into the $70,000 range.
The 2024 Chevrolet Blazer RS RWD and eAWD models are now rolling into showrooms, with the SS to follow a few months from now. The LT pair should be available by early in the second quarter of 2024
Chevy is betting big on battery-electric vehicles and the 2024 Blazer EV will be a critical model if it hopes to get taken seriously against competitors as diverse as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Tesla Model S.
From my two days driving both versions of the RS, I come away reasonably impressed. While not the fastest off the line, and despite some frustrations with the electronic control tech, the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS has a lot going for it. It boasts striking good looks, solid range and reasonable — if not thrilling performance. Even before I get into the high-performance SS, my time in San Diego suggests Chevy is now solidly planted into the EV world.