Blazer vs. Grand Cherokee: Same Form Factor, Different Mission
The Jeep Grand Cherokee and new Chevrolet Blazer are two vehicles that many people will be cross-shopping. They are both midsize, two-row SUVs and have similar price points for their mainstream trim levels; however, their missions are quite different.
The Grand Cherokee is positioned as a semi-luxurious SUV that leans more toward truck-like capability with its high towing capacity, RWD layout, and V8 engine options, though it is not actually a body-on-frame, truck-based SUV. On the other hand, the Blazer is more sporty and car-like, sharing many styling cues with the Camaro and using transverse mounted 4- and 6-cylinder engines in its FWD layout.
In practice, they also feel different, in kind of an intangible way. They are both smooth, comfortable utility vehicles with supportive seats and suspensions that soak up the bumps well. Road noise is also kept to a reasonably low level in both vehicles. The Grand Cherokee’s steering feels firmer, though less responsive, while the Blazer’s steering is responsive and light. However, despite some similarities, there’s a feeling of solidity and strength in the Grand Cherokee that isn’t present in the Blazer, again, demonstrating the difference in their intended purposes. While the Blazer is meant to evoke more sporting on-road confidence, the Grand Cherokee is right at home off the pavement with its optional Trail Rated capability. Although I’m sure the Blazer is well-built and durable, it just doesn’t feel like it’s as strong as the Grand Cherokee, or really any more solidly constructed than a Malibu. One of the main reasons I’d want an SUV is the feeling of driving something that feels substantial, so to drive the Blazer and feel like I’m driving nothing more than a taller Malibu is a bit of a disappointment.
Where the Blazer does have an advantage over the Grand Cherokee is in its driving dynamics. It corners with more confidence than the Jeep, or most other SUVs and crossovers for that matter. Initial impressions of the Blazer V6 from other reviewers also indicate that the V6, specifically in RS guise, feels sporty enough to draw some comparisons with the Camaro.
On the interior, the Blazer has some design elements borrowed from the Camaro such as the round, low mounted center air vents and the shape of the infotainment screen. Material quality is decent in the Blazer, though there are some hard plastic points. There are faux-leather wrapped portions of the dash even on base Blazer trim levels, something that’s not true of the Jeep. The Grand Cherokee takes a more traditional approach to interior design, which is honestly starting to look somewhat dated, though in higher trim levels, it’s available covered with leather wrapped door panels, dash, and a suede-like headliner. If you want these features, they are only available in Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk trim levels, which are all significantly more expensive than the highest-end Blazer. The cabins in both vehicles can be nicely equipped with premium sound systems, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, and the option of a panoramic sunroof. The Grand Cherokee is a bit behind in the technology area: the Blazer is also available with a foot-activated power liftgate, surround-view camera system, and GM’s rear camera mirror.
The Blazer has started showing up to dealerships recently, while the Grand Cherokee has been on sale since the 2011 model year with a few changes to the powertrain, front and rear fascias, interior, and technology features. We anticipate the next-generation Grand Cherokee to be revealed late next year with an on-sale date in early 2021. We look forward to comparing these two vehicles again when the new Grand Cherokee arrives.
Ryan had an obsession with cars from a young age, reading NADA books and MotorTrend magazine as well as sketching cars in grade school. He has since moved on to creating renderings in Photoshop and writing about auto news. Ryan lives in Oklahoma.