ATLANTA —General Motors Co., aiming for more gains in the booming American market for utility vehicles, is resurrecting the venerable Chevrolet Blazer nameplate as a tech-savvy, yet sporty, crossover.
The new midsize Blazer, which GM last produced in 2005 as a body-on-frame SUV, will slot between Chevrolet's compact Equinox and large Traverse crossovers — both of which were redesigned for 2018 and helped GM post record U.S. crossover sales last year.
"As this market continues to grow and evolve we will strengthen our commitment to offer a model for every customer and for every lifestyle," Alan Batey, president of GM North America and head of Chevrolet's global business, said while unveiling the vehicle in Atlanta this week.
U.S. consumers are migrating to crossovers from cars, and Chevrolet hopes to capture more of those buyers by offering another utility in a key segment dominated by the Honda Pilot, Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru Outback.
From 2013 to 2017, U.S. sales of midsize crossovers increased 24 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The segment has expanded 4.4 percent through the first five months of 2018.
"This is a huge opportunity for us," Batey said. "We just think it's the right vehicle at the right time."
The 2019 Blazer is expected to go on sale early next year in three trims — base, RS and Premier — and introduce a simpler trim strategy for the brand. The trims, GM said, will offer "distinct styling," including custom grille appearances and chrome.
The five-passenger crossover has been designed in line with recent vehicle updates in Chevrolet's lineup but adopts a much more aggressive, sculpted approach. It features a prominent dual grille similar in shape to that of the refreshed 2019 Camaro SS and sleek, horizontal LED daytime running lights between the headlamps.
Powering the front-wheel-drive vehicle will be a standard 2.5-liter inline-four engine rated at 193 hp and 188 pound-feet of torque. A 3.6-liter V-6 engine also is available, offering 305 hp and 269 pound-feet of torque. Both direct-injected engines feature intelligent stop-start technology and are paired to a nine-speed transmission.
GM will produce the Blazer at a plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, alongside the Chevrolet Equinox crossover and Chevrolet Cruze hatchback. It is based on GM's C1XX regular-wheelbase crossover platform, which also underpins the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia. A longer wheelbase is used on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and 2018 Buick Enclave.
Tire/wheel packages will be in 18- through 21-inch rim diameters. The vehicle was shown at the Atlanta debut on Continental Crosscontacts.
Pricing will be announced closer to the start of production in the fourth quarter. In May, U.S. transaction prices for new midsize crossovers and SUVs averaged $38,175, according to Kelley Blue Book.
GM introduced the K5 Blazer name in 1969 as part of the famed Chevrolet C/K truck family. The nameplate was discontinued in early 2005 amid sluggish demand for truck-based SUVs, rising gas prices and a shift in consumer preferences to sport wagons or crossovers.