I’ll take the Camaro of SUVs, please.
May 30, 2019
By: Frank Markus
We're a DINC couple of a certain (semi-centennial) age, and I'm an engineer who loves cars and gadgetry. My sense of style absolutely precludes ownership of the vast majority of SUVs and crossovers purely because they look too ugly or plain. I'm impatient by nature and prone to running slightly late, so performance is pretty important. We own a lake place, and although we're not boaters, I sometimes need to hitch up a rented trailer for runs to the dump or hauling oversized items around (a 3,500-pound rating gets my jobs done). My Michigan climate—political and weather-wise—make all-wheel drive and a Detroit Three label attractive. Plug all these factors into my Decid-O-Meter 9000, along with a hard price ceiling of $50,000 (dictated by my income and fiscal responsibility levels), and after some grinding and whirring, the slip of paper it spits out reads: 2019 Chevrolet Blazer AWD Premier.
My inner geek kinda wants a hybrid—more so I can play with the gas-mileage optimizing user interface than for the actual money- or climate-savings it promises—but the gorgeous new 2020 Explorer Limited Hybrid, at $55,570 to start with AWD, is too far out of my price range, and it's bigger than I need. We're promised that the forthcoming 2020 Lincoln Corsair will include a hybrid variant, but when, at what price, and will it tow 3,500 pounds? Other SUVs that generally met the criteria include the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus, but its zoomy 2.7-liter twin-turbo busts my budget, and frankly the Chevy's sportier appearance appeals.
Another of my absolute must-haves is an interior that's neither all-black nor gray at all, and the Blazer Premier's Maple Sugar and black offering features piping, stitching, grain, and gloss that belie its Bow Tie badging. Sadly, this color scheme can't be had with my first exterior color choice (Sunlit Bronze), but it pairs fine with Oakwood Metallic. The Premier trim's equipment is pretty comprehensive, but I'm adding $2,165 worth of "Driver Confidence" (wireless charging for my iPhone 8, full adaptive cruise and forward collision mitigation, and Intellibeam lighting, among other things) and another $185 for the cargo compartment shade and net. No thanks on the top-heavy sunroofs, ride-killing 21-inch rims, or pricey entertainment systems.
For $49,145 ($47,145 after local cash allowances) I end up with a ute that—at 6.1 seconds to 60 mph and 14.7 seconds through the quarter mile at 95.5 mph—is a wee bit quicker and better handling than my beloved Hemi-powered 2018 Dodge Durango 4 R/T long-termer, and it's 4/3 mpg city/highway more efficient to boot. It's also a shade quicker if slightly less dynamically adroit or efficient than its chief rival, the racy Ford Edge ST. I'm basically expecting to feel like I'm piloting a taller, easier to see out of, vastly more useful V-6 Camaro—especially every time I go to dial the temperature up or down by spinning the central vent surrounds (so cool). Oh, and I'll be buying and holding for six-digit mileage accumulation—as that's the best way to get your money's worth.