Tag Archives: first drive

2024 Genesis G70 first drive
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

First Drive: The new 2024 Genesis G70 is a proper sports sedan made even better

It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again. Korea is on a roll with turning its automotive image around in a full one-eighty defined by legitimate quality, performance, and design. And there’s arguably no better practitioner of this newfound efficacy than the Genesis brand, which has now revamped the G70 sports sedan for the second time in its current generation. So, even though it feels like the car had just launched yesterday, extend a warm welcome to the newly-refreshed 2024 Genesis G70, now loaded with more tech, more style, and, ahem, more power, baby!

Queue lightning sound effects and loud James Pumphrey noises, please. Thank you.

Price and specs

Yes, you can still get a cushy, reasonably well-equipped G70 for well under the average American new car sales price, with the base model rear-driver selling for $41,500 before the $1,195 destination fee. All-wheel drive is a $2,100 upgrade to all models, while the top-shelf Sport Prestige pack with diamond-stitched Nappa leather, a heads-up display, and extra tidbits of safety and performance tech fetches a $4,200 premium on base engines and $4,400 on the 3.3T.

Fun fact: If you mosey on over to their online configurator, you’ll notice the outgoing, pre-revision G70 started at $39,400. The gap between the old base car and the current base car is the same in cost as the upgrade to all-wheel drive. Neat.

Base prices:$41,500 (2.5T Standard RWD), $43,600 (2.5T Standard AWD), $49,950 (3.3T Sport Advanced RWD), $52,050 (3.3T Sport Advanced AWD)
Engine choices:2.5-liter turbocharged I4, 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission choices:8-speed automatic 
Drivetrain choices:rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive
Power:300 horsepower @ rpm (2.5T), 365 horsepower @ rpm (3.3T)
Torque:311 pound-feet @ rpm (2.5T), 376 pound-feet @ rpm (3.3T)
Weight:approx. 3,700 pounds (2.5T), approx. 3,900 pounds (3.3T)
Zero-to-60 mph:approx. 5.5 seconds (2.5T), approx 4.5 seconds (3.3T)
¼-mile:approx. 13.5 seconds @ 105 mph (2.5T), approx. 13.0 seconds @ 110 mph (3.3T)
MPG:21 city, 29 highway, 24 combined (2.5T RWD), 20 city, 28 highway, 23 combined (2.5T AWD), 18 city, 27 highway, 21 combined (3.3T RWD), 17 city, 26 highway, 20 combined (3.3T AWD)
Fuel Capacity:15.8 gallons
(Acceleration estimates based on instrumented testing figures for previous 3.3T models and adjusted from former 2.0T.)

What’s new?

A goodie bag of smaller details

On the surface, it looks like much hasn’t changed from this generation’s first revision, and you’d be mostly correct. Genesis admits the biggest addition to this generation of G70 is a new base engine, which we’ll dabble in just a sec. But for now, it’s also worth diving into all the subtle performance and tech changes made to keep this compact luxury sports sedan relevant in an age of increasing competition from EVs and fellow sports sedans alike.

The former half is headlines by the standardization of 19″ wheels across all G70s, part of Genesis’ bid to further lean into the car’s inherent athleticism. Multiple new designs better in keeping with the Genesis design language are available, and all are 19-inchers wrapped in Michelin Primacy all-seasons or Pilot Sport 4 summers, depending on powertrain configurations. There are also four new color options: Bond Silver, Cavendish Red, Vatna Gray, and Kawah Blue. The interior also gets a new two-tone Fog Gray and Obsidian Black upholstery option.

The latter half is where the more substantial details rear their heads, such as improved iOS support for using your phone as a digital key, as well as cloud-connected support for over-the-air updates, customizable driver profiles, and routing.

More accessible go-fast goods

As an added bone to throw at prospective G70 buyers, go-fast goods once exclusive to the 3.3T are now standard across the board. Most notable are the enlarged Brembos, with its 4-piston front and 2-piston rear calipers chomping down on 13.8-inch front and 13.4-inch rear rotors. Standard 2.5T cars get white/silver-painted calipers, while Sport Prestige and Sport Advanced 2.5T and 3.3T cars come red-painted. 3.3T cars get variable-ratio steering as standard, while speccing the Sport Prestige pack adds electronically-controlled suspension tied to the adjustable drive modes and a mechanical limited-slip diff.

Oh. And if you can believe it, all-wheel-drive G70s will continue to feature a hidden “Drift” mode. Because that’s exactly what you need on the way to the grocery store.

2024 Genesis G70 first drive
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

An all-new base engine

Bazinga! The real big-ticket to the G70’s continued relevance. Enter the new base engine, a 2.5-liter turbo inline-four now pushing an even 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Those are gains of half a liter in displacement, 48 ponies, and 51 pound-feet. Interestingly, despite the added size and grunt, fuel economy versus the outgoing base engine is roughly unchanged, meaning this new engine closes that gap between it and the top-dog V6 with little sacrifice in the process. And as we journos found out during a day behind the wheel, the new engine is certainly a bottom-rung option worth considering.

What is it like to drive?

On Phoenix’s open roads

What can I say? The enhanced G70 drives like a compelling product. A very compelling product. An instant fan favorite among journos and engineers when the car was first launched, the G70 continues to remind us of Korea’s exponential upscaling of quality and refinement. Although our press drive across Phoenix, Arizona was formulated to primarily showcase the new 2.5-liter engine and remind us of the G70’s performance credibility, we still received an ample glimpse of just how nice of a place the G70 is to commute in, from the plush leather seating that never leaves you fatigued after hours to the attractive and logically-laid out interior controls.

The 10.25-inch infotainment screen proved as crisp and quick to the touch as ever and appreciably remains at an arm’s reach. The all-new digital climate controls are equally as intuitive, with haptic feedback to boot. And old-fashioned types fret not, as the most important controls, such as temperature, Off, and Auto, still exist as hard physical switches flanking the display. And speaking of physical switches, all hard controls in the car carry a sense of heft and density not always found in other luxury vehicles. Plastic buttons feel properly tactile and without the usual plasticky hollowness or looseness, and even the climate vents move with a bit of weight as though they were dampened.

You’d figure this to just be the norm for this class of car, but I’ve been proven wrong on a few occasions. I’ve been in current Mercedes products that didn’t feel this tightly screwed together nor had this likable of an infotainment system.

Whether behind the wheel of a four-banger or a V6, the powertrains and sole 8-speed transmission all proved buttery smooth and more than capable of wafting you along in traffic. Even the itty-bitty 2.5T had no issues with on-ramps or stoplight drags, feeling every bit as strong as a base model pony car or some higher-tier hot hatches. Both powertrains were fairly inoffensive, although the four-banger does make the typical droney groan, made nonissue by the G70’s commendable sound insulation.

2024 Genesis G70 first drive
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Just as refined was the G70’s ride over the admittedly terrible and potholed-to-hell Arizona roads. The Sport Prestige’s electronic suspension was as serene as can be for a shorter-wheelbase luxury sedan with sporting intentions. You can still feel the occasional rock or expansion joint, but it never jostles you nor sends any impacts up your tush. You’ll probably hear the bumps more than feel them, but you’ll know they’re there. Even so, the G70 remains composed and compliant over such harsh tarmac. Impressive, considering the Michelin’s thin sidewalls on the 19-inch rollers, and one can wonder how a set of 18s could be even better.

Color me impressed overall, especially with the ride quality. Your average Scottsdale retiree wouldn’t mind rocking one to ferry them to and from the country club.

2024 Genesis G70 first drive
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Smashing apexes (and cones)

Saved the best section for last. Even though no sensible G70 owner is ever going to track theirs, they totally should because the G70 totally can. It’s not perfect, and even the engineers know there’s room on the table for a real BMW M or Lexus F fighter, alluring prey for a car graced by ex-M engineer, Albert Biermann, who spearheaded the development of Hyundai’s acclaimed N lineup. But as it sits as just the bread-and-butter sedan, I can confidently the G70 earns its place as a formidable foe to those long-standing titans from beyond its borders.

On track, the Pilot Sport 4 tires and electronically-controlled dampers on our rear-drive 3.3T track testers easily dispatched the tight corners of APEX Motor Club, with our lead driver quickly encouraging us to push harder and harder to keep pace. The variable-ratio steering was nowhere near as aloof or unpredictable as I thought it’d be and proved to be wonderfully precise for reigning in those little drifts you can get on corner exit. Body control was rock solid, with a noticeable but buttoned-down lean that never incited fear, whether on track or out in the twisties of Tortilla Flats. With a 225-wide front tire and 255 rear, understeer is the dominant trait, but it’s nothing a little extra throttle and steering input can’t quell.

While our track and canyon runs were in Sport Prestige variants of the 3.3T, we did get the chance to sample the 2.5T on a tight autocross course, where the estimated 200 to 300-pound weight difference became immediately apparent. Yes, the 3.3T is where it’s at for performance junkies. And again, no, no one’s really going to track or autocross any Genesis G70 except for us weirdo journalists. But if they should dare, there’s a lot to love with the lighter, more responsive nose of the four-banger. And even without the oomph of the V6, 311 pound-feet plus shorter gearing for the 8-speed gearbox and final drive prove to be plenty for lighting up the rear tires and hanging slides left and right. Ask us how we know.

Yeah. It’s, first and foremost, a cushy luxury car for 21st-century yuppies to haul themselves and perhaps a guest or two around downtown en route to the nearest North Italia. But it still puts the “sport” in sports sedan.

2024 Genesis G70 first drive
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A proper sports sedan made better

We’re happy to report the G70 remains a fantastic, playful, fun-to-drive offering in a segment often criticized for distancing themselves from their old driver’s car mantras in favor of solely tech advancements. And if one of the Genesis team member’s warning that we “haven’t heard the last of G70” is anything to heed, we’re certain there’ll be even hotter versions in the near future.

Thankfully, the G70’s added performance chops across its entire lineup didn’t dent its luxury car cred. In fact, I’d argue this is the best balance of the two halves of its identity to date, and we can’t wait to score one for a few days of testing to see what’s really hot and what’s actually not. So, stay tuned! Or, if you’d rather not wait and prefer to see for yourself as you should, you can check out the updated G70 when it hits U.S. showrooms in a matter of weeks.

Genesis G70
Image credit: Genesis

Now, Genesis. Please allow the Hyundai N team to work their magic. Korean M3 fighter, anyone?

read more
Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

First Drive: The new 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is everything an electric van should be without the fanfare

Many companies, from established automakers to fresh upstarts, view the quandary of last-mile transportation as a business opportunity best solved by electric vehicles. And now, the big dog of van life has jumped into the fight: Mercedes-Benz with an electrified version of the popular Sprinter vans.

The obvious advantages of stop-start efficiency, low-speed torque, and compact drivetrain packaging make vans something of a perfect use case for electric utility. And not just to help Jeff Bezos earn another penny or two on every Amazon Prime one-day delivery, since mobile detailers, handymen, contractors running a handful of local projects, and even private buyers might view this new electric van as a solid solution. To show off the eSprinter’s capabilities and range, Mercedes-Benz recently invited select media out for a test drive around Southern California.

Skip to section:

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price & specs

Base price:$71,886 (standard output)
As-tested price:$75,316 (high output)
Motor/battery choices:Single permanent magnet synchronous motor w/ 113 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack
Transmission choices:single-speed
Drivetrain choices:rear-wheel drive
Power:134 horsepower (standard), 201 horsepower (high output)
Torque:295 pound-feet (for up to 30 seconds)
Weight:6,746 lbs
Top speed:75 mph
10-80% fast charge time:42 mins (at 115kW)
MPGe:TBA
Range:approx. 273 miles

eSprinter exterior design

Other than branding on early vehicles that Mercedes-Benz brought to Newport Beach for media testing, the eSprinter flies under the radar next to ICE vans. And that’s kind of the point: avoiding any of the frill or futuristic styling that more consumer-focused EVs might prioritize to woo any early adopters unless that’s your jam like the Koreans would like to hope.

The big Benz logo on the front hides a charge port, so the eSprinter lacks a fuel filler door. But even the open grille allows airflow to support an impressive cooling management system that combines the drivetrain and climate control circuits to best maximize range and battery life cycles. Otherwise, the sliding side door, double rear doors, and high roof all create a familiar profile.

What’s hot?– Electric drivetrain is perfect for urban delivery or work vans
– Mercedes’ expertise and engineering at work
– Peppy and quick below about 50 mph
– Planted handling helps make this big van eminently easy to drive
– Just enough range for some freeway cruising

eSprinter pricing breakdown

A base eSprinter starts at $71,886 with a 113-kWh battery, a 170-inch wheelbase, and a 100-kW electric motor powering the rear wheels. The battery pack and exterior dimensions remain the same across the lineup, though an optional high-output 150-kilowatt motor bumps that sticker up to $75,316.

The rest of Benz’s planned options pricing remains something of a mystery. On other vehicles, the MBUX infotainment system typically runs between $1-2,000, but keep in mind the eSprinter’s version will include specific navigation software that takes into account traffic and charging stops, even elevation topography to better estimate potential range remaining. Other eSprinter options will include the choice of dual bucket seating layouts or different access configurations for the rear cargo area.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Mercedes will build the eSprinter at a plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, which may make government incentives and rebates possible for buyers in the right income bracket.

Pricing and destination, however, totals $2,295—not an insignificant number, and likely attributable to the eSprinter’s serious size.

eSprinter interior and tech

In something of a surprise, but one that also makes sense, the eSprinter’s interior can best be described as Spartan. Maybe the Benz logo suggests another rung up the luxury ladder versus Ford’s E-Transit, the eSprinter’s main competitor at this point, but the design hews more closely to the utilitarian ethos. Severely upright seats that require a choice between legroom or seat recline especially prove the point—for drivers jumping in and out constantly rather than taking long road trips, presumably, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

The steering wheel will look familiar to anyone who owns a Benz, but for construction workers or delivery drivers, getting used to haptic buttons will require an adjustment period. Whether the buttons can sense finger movement through work gloves also remains a mystery. Plenty of cupholders and room for central storage, at the very least, round out the compact front cabin.

In terms of tech, the optional MBUX gets those aforementioned EV-specific helpers, displaying range remaining, navigation, and drive modes in addition to the standard media screens. A perfectly serviceable, happily basic gauge cluster also provides a minimum and maximum range estimate, as well as displays for power output and regen, plus battery state of charge and speed. Using paddles on the steering wheel shifts between five different regen modes, from “D-” for the closest to one-pedal driving all the way to “D++” to allow for full coasting.

A variety of configurations for the front seats include dual buckets, a driver’s bucket, and a single passenger jumpseat with a narrow door to the rear cargo area in between, or a driver’s bucket with a double bench for two passengers—the latter requiring a solid wall blocking access to the cargo area.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

In the back, the eSprinter’s large canopy and compact electric drivetrain packaging allow for a 79.1-inch standing height at the center of the 173.6-inch-long bed. A variety of tie-downs and shelf mounting points dot the floor and walls, respectively. But in another surprise, the rear does not include any power outlets for powering tools or accessories. Benz reps on site in Newport suggested that upgrade will almost certainly arrive for later model years.

SUV: Sport Utility Van? Not quite…

For drivers accustomed to either gasoline or diesel-powered Sprinter vans, the eSprinter’s 201 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque might sound a bit underwhelming (and that’s the high output motor’s rating). But first things first, rest assured that the little e-motor does just fine. Low-end torque means that pulling off the line at a stoplight or stop sign requires just a bit of light toe into the go pedal (can’t call it “throttle” here). Though power dies off a bit from there, once wound up, the eSprinter accelerates most happily from about 30 to 50 miles an hour.

Note that Benz mounted a 440-pound box in the cargo area to allow journalists to mimic tools or packages for delivery. Meanwhile, the modular low-slung skateboard chassis (which all Benz vans will share starting in 2026) helps to prevent body roll and top lean much better than on ICE Sprinters. But that composure comes at a cost, mainly felt when harsh reverberations jolt up into the van while rolling over pitted road surfaces or speed bumps.

Still, the eSprinter is surprisingly easy to just get in and drive. At 92.3 inches wide without mirrors, the tall sidewalls squeeze through traffic without much concern for the overall 280-inch length, and the rear tires even track closely to the fronts thanks to a 170-inch wheelbase. Visibility sometimes presents a challenge, though large rearview mirrors and blind-spot monitoring help a ton.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Playing around with electric drive modes

Once accustomed to the sheer size and speed of the eSprinter, fiddling with the three drive modes came next. Starting in “Comfort” allows full access to every last horsepower and pound-foot of torque, but dropping into “Eco” or “Maximum Range” cuts max output to 100 and 80 kilowatts, respectively. The difference is immediately noticeable, especially at low speeds in Maximum Range mode where full “throttle” all day becomes necessary. In reality, does that then save range versus driving as economically as possible? Sounds like a game that employers can play with employees.

In each drive mode, the “+” and “-” paddles on the steering wheel can then toggle between five regen settings. With “D++” selected, the eSprinter coasts almost more smoothly than an ICE car, with zero engine braking. Three steps down to “D-” and the van almost approaches one-pedal driving, but not quite. 

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

For those eagle-eyed readers keeping track of their abacuses, D- to D++ only adds up to four regen settings—correct, because holding the + paddle also activates “D-Auto,” which allows the eSprinter to adjust regen based on the scenario to maximize range. The concept sounds good, taking the onus away from flawed or distracted humans, but in execution, D-Auto requires serious attention while used in traffic because the rate of regen changes from moment to moment.

The lack of one-pedal driving, meanwhile, makes a lot more sense within the context of last-mile deliveries. After all, if a driver in one-pedal mode comes to a stop without touching the brake, they might then forget to put the eSprinter in Park before hopping out and dropping off a package. Not ideal, from both logic and liability standpoints.

In Comfort mode with full power available, the eSprinter can get up to highway speeds just as fast as average traffic. The top speed of 75 miles per hour means employees don’t have to risk incurring their employer’s wrath after getting a speeding ticket, though reaching that pace creates a fair amount of wind noise within such an upright vehicle.

On other electric Benzes, reducing NVH clearly took far more of a priority during the development process. Not so for the eSprinter and that Spartan ethos. Even the leather seats seem fairly firm—though, in another surprise, also very well bolstered for a confirmed non-sports car. Maybe with all the climbing in and out, the seats will break in more, though the walled-off cargo area means that taller drivers definitely face a tough choice between knee room and back comfort.

Real-world range performance

Range performance clearly took a higher level of priority than M-B’s more standard silent and sumptuous interiors. And the eSprinter absolutely delivered over the course of 100-plus miles in traffic and on the highway around Newport, despite confirmed journalistic drag racing.

Part of the impressive range performance for such a large, aerodynamically inefficient van comes down to effectively managing the battery and inverter temps, so a nifty setup that combines the routing for coolant used in climate control and drivetrain components probably plays a big part in maintaining accurate range estimates.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Mercedes-Benz’s research indicates that the average delivery van travels much less than 100 miles per load anyway, so the eSprinter’s claimed ability to drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on a single charge should do the trick just fine. But a few shortcomings do arrive due to the electric drivetrain, as well. Mostly a significantly reduced payload compared to ICE Sprinters, officially rated at 2,624 pounds or less than half of a gas or diesel van. The lower number stems from the batteries making up more of the official Gross Vehicular Weight Rating, though if the batteries actually weigh 1,007 pounds as Benz claims, the math doesn’t quite add up.

A few other practical questions arose in Newport, too, in addition to the payload and whether haptic steering wheel buttons can sense work gloves. No, Benz currently has no plans to build an all-wheel-drive dual-motor eSprinter. Outlets in the rear will almost certainly arrive later, as will a fully open cockpit and cargo layout with no wall divider behind the seats. 

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

And most importantly for a company running eSprinters as delivery vans: charge times. Benz claims the eSprinter can manage a 10-80% charge in 42 minutes, which falls in line with the large battery pack. The lithium-iron phosphate battery itself also uses zero cobalt or nickel to help reduce the environmental impact of mining rare-earth minerals.

And yet, the eSprinter maxes out at only 115-kW charge speeds, so the best fast charging stations will need to throttle back. That’s a bummer because two drivers working together can probably pack in another load of boxes and reach the max payload faster than the van can top up on electrons. Presumably, the guesstimated drive routes under 100 miles for each delivery run fit into this equation, as well.

What’s not?– Not particularly comfortable seats
– Needs 120-volt outlet(s) capacity in the cargo area
– No all-wheel-drive version in the works
– No wide open layout so far

Built to satisfy very specific use cases

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

In many ways, the eSprinter seems catered to very precise use cases rather than satisfying the full gamut of the van market, from utilitarian delivery spec to uber-expensive overlander platform. But the electric drivetrain kind of cancels out camping or overlanding as a market segment, anyway. 

Without a doubt, the few production-line vans in Newport showed all the quality expected from Mercedes-Benz, and pricing seems just about right for the commercial buyer. More refinement, increased range, and more configurations will almost certainly arrive in years to come. But for now, Benz clearly waited this long to make their first step into the electric van game a strong one.

read more
Chevrolet Blazer EV
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV First Drive: An awesome range of cool but confusing electric crossovers

Ever since the EV1 of the late 1990s, General Motors has led the pack in forward-facing electric vehicle production. That first foray into electrification suffered an ignominious fate, sure, but soon enough, the Chevrolet Volt and then the Bolt carried on GM’s EV mantle—which most recently resulted in the absurdly gargantuan revival of the Hummer as a fully electric brute capable of crab-walking and four-wheeling alike. To an extent, the Volt, early Bolts, and especially the six-figure Hummer EV can be considered niche vehicles. Now, with the debut of a fully-electric 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet purposefully designed and engineered a crossover built for the purpose of converting a wider swath of EV holdouts.

The newly electrified Blazer joins two gasoline engine options to create a full run of eight different powertrain variants, even before selecting various trim and options packages. Is that too much for consumers? Well, at a recent media drive program in the hills of San Diego, Chevy introduced the new EV in a perfect setting to show off attractive design and impressive driving dynamics, as well as solid proof for every EV’s most important stat: real-world range.

Skip to section:

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price and specs

Note that not every tidbit of information is currently available at the time of publishing. MPGe for front or rear-drive variants are yet to be revealed on the fuel economy.gov website, and exact performance measurements are yet to be tested. Thankfully, this first drive event still gave us more than a clear enough view of what to expect from the Bowtie’s forthcoming cyberpunk soccer practice shuttle.

Base price:$44,995 (minus rebates)
As-test price:$60,215 (2RS AWD minus rebates)
Electric motor options:dual motor, front bar-wound, rear induction without magnet
Transmission:single-speed direct drive
Drivetrain options:front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive
Power:288 hp/212 kW combined (2RS AWD), 340 hp available for RWD, up to 557 hp (SS)
Torque:333 lb-ft/451 Nm combined (2RS AWD), 325 lb-ft available for RWD, up to 648 lb-ft (SS)
Weight:TBA
Zero-to-60 mph:TBA; approx. <4 seconds (SS)
¼-mile:TBA
MPGe:TBA (FWD, RWD), 103 city, 88 highway, 96 combined (AWD)
Battery Capacity:85 kWh (102 kWh available)
EPA Range:279 miles (up to 324 miles available)
Charging:150 kW DC fast charging (up to 190 kW available)
10-min fast charging capability:69 miles (RS AWD), 79 miles (RS RWD)

Exterior design

From more than 50 feet away, the ICE and EV Blazer siblings look nearly indistinguishable. But up close, GM’s Ultium chassis beneath the skin clearly allowed Chevrolet to scoot the wheels further out towards the EV’s corners, which creates a sportier form highlighted by slightly swoopier aero lines. Large 21-inch wheels, Y-shaped taillights, and an optional front light bar on highly equipped versions help to add a stylized futurist aesthetic in contrast to the more restrained ICE design.

Overall, the almost Mazda-esque shape comes together best on white, black, and silver Blazers, though some of the details add up to make brighter metallic colors a bit showy. A host of piano black plastic cladding, so popular on EVs these days, detracts from otherwise clean lines and fades away best when camouflaged by simpler paint jobs.

What’s hot?– Sporty and smooth driving dynamics for an electric crossover
– Prioritizing NVH makes the EV experience much more palatable
– Tech galore on a class-leading touchscreen
– Easy to just get in and drive

Chevrolet Blazer EV pricing breakdown

Chevrolet promised earlier this year that a base 1LT model Blazer EV would start at $44,995 minus any rebates and incentives, but the RS AWD trim on hand in San Diego ratchets that price tag up to just above $60,000 quite quickly. Filling mid-level slots in the gradewalk, the 2LT and RS FWD will cost $47,595 and $51,995, respectively.

Production of the AWD Blazers began in the summer, but other trims will begin assembly soon. Meanwhile, the highest-performance SS package offering 557 horsepower and 648 lb-ft of torque will be priced at $65,995, with deliveries slated for later in 2024.

Chevrolet Blazer EV interior and tech

Pushing all four wheels towards the Blazer’s corners only accentuates this EV’s interior volume. Four full-sized adults will fit with plenty of head and legroom, all without impinging on a best-in-class 59.8 cubic feet of rear trunk capacity (with the back seats upright). Beneath the trunk floor, a small cargo hold adds to that figure, flanked by flat tire kits in place of a full-size spare.

The interior design features fun retro-themed climate vents plus a fair amount of piano key switchgear and physical knobs, but the entire experience centers around a massive 17.7-inch panoramic touchscreen atop the dash. Plenty of adjustable drive mode settings and EV-specific navigation tools work seamlessly with Google’s Built-In program and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, of course. 

In fact, the Blazer EV dash can house up to four screens counting the main center display, the driver’s gauge cluster, a standard Head-Up Display, and an optional digital camera rearview mirror. Both the main touchscreen and gauge cluster allow for easy configuration and prioritization of common widgets, including an easy way to switch headlights on and off, plus even an off button for the whole vehicle (which so many EVs frustratingly lack).

Surprisingly, the higher RS package does not offer a panoramic roof, though the lower-spec LT trim does. The RS gets ventilated seats standard, however, which is an important detail on EVs given that less efficient air conditioning for the whole cabin can affect range so significantly. Whether most buyers select the undeniably excessive red upholstery seems dubious, though Chevrolet’s loaner fleet will highlight that package for eye-catching media photos.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Smooth (and sporty) operator

Chevrolet first set journalists loose to explore San Diego in a fleet of the rear-wheel-drive RS variants, which use a single 250-kilowatt motor putting down the equivalent of 340 horsepower. First impressions on a series of winding sweepers showed off the Blazer EV’s impressive chassis dynamics, which toe the line between smooth and sporty with minimal body roll thanks to the low-slung Ultium skateboard.

Punching the go pedal (can’t call it a throttle, after all) produces a quick moment of jerk (the scientific term for rate of change of acceleration, I’m serious) but never the same kind of rollercoaster stomach lurch as other high-performing electrics. “Peppy” describes the rear-wheel-drive RS best, but straight-line speed probably takes a second-row seat to its cornering and confidence. A thick steering wheel rim accentuates that athletic nature, with a surprising amount of weight and feedback for an adjustable electronically assisted rack.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Switching through various drive modes changes the level of steering assist, as well as acceleration tip-in, brake pedal response, and faux engine sounds. Acclimating to the maximum one-pedal drive mode takes some time before neck-snapping at liftoff smooths out, but luckily a lower level of regen is easily selectable, as well. A configurable “My Mode” allows for a better balance between the various settings, critically to entirely switch off the silly fake engine noises.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

All-wheel zap!

The next morning included far more drive time behind the wheel of an all-wheel-drive RS, which to the general confusion of everyone involved, actually combines for significantly less output than the single-motor rear-drive version. So yes, you read the above spec table correctly. In this case, a front 180-kW motor pairs with a small 67-kW helper motor at the rear axles to create a combined rating of only 288 horsepower, although max torque does increase to 333 pound-feet. That helper motor gives a bit of punch while cornering or on low-traction surfaces, but for the most part, the larger front motor handles power delivery, likely a concession to improved efficiency and, therefore, range.

The AWD RS similarly rides smooth and quiet, with plenty of pickup available up to around 50 miles an hour where pushing air starts to impinge on outright shove. Even running through canyons near Julian, California, where the composed suspension served as the star of the show, that questionable powertrain layout produced minimal torque steer despite its front-biased setup. Most importantly, while climbing 6,000 feet of elevation and then cruising back to sea level with plenty of journalistic exuberance and the A/C blasting, the AWD RS only pulled about 150 miles out of the fully charged 85-kWh battery to drive the full route’s 143-mile distance.

As posh and quiet as an EV should be

Not bad, Blazer. Not bad at all, and a good sign for the larger Ultium 102-kWh Ultium battery pack that will offer the option for an EPA-rated 324 miles of range. But probably the most impressive aspect of the Blazer EV can easily go unnoticed: the very hard work that GM put into reducing Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH). 

A square set of low rolling resistance Bridgestone Alenza A/S “Enliten” tires measures a respectable 275 millimeters wide at all four corners yet produces very little road hum even up to nearly triple-digit speeds. Mounting tires that wide on 21-inch wheels helps to minimize drag and maximize range but also contributes to the unshakeable stability of the Blazer while cornering hard in an effort to explore the limits of Chevy’s traction control and ESC programming. Only the occasional squeal of protest pushed the limits of the eco-focused rubber, and yet intervention by robot overlords never approached the edge of intrusiveness that many other electric powertrains struggle to exercise effectively.

The pre-production RWD RS did rattle a bit from the back seats, as perhaps expected. But the production version of the AWD RS almost approached Lucid levels of silence, an important factor due to the lack of an internal combustion engine to drown out little creaks and clunks. Similarly, while either ripping through canyons or rolling down the highway with adaptive cruise control on, minimal wind noise entered the cabin. (Of note: the Blazer EV will include an option for GM’s impressive Super Cruise Level 2+ autonomous driving system that works on over 400,000 miles of American roadway.) Even with the respectable sound system playing country music on low volume, the entire drive bordered on serene, which clearly points to the benefits that legacy automakers bring to the table when building mass-scale electric vehicles. 

What’s not?– Priced surprisingly high for a General Motors EV
– Exterior design can look busy on certain colors
– Electric range lagging behind industry leaders, including GM’s own Hummer and forthcoming Silverado

A fine electric crossover in a fiercely competitive battlefield

Will customers find the dizzying range of choices between three different drivetrain layouts—FWD, AWD, and RWD—plus the two battery sizes and unexpected output ratings, not to mention the duo of gasoline Blazers, simply too extensive to make an educated decision? Paralysis by analysis seems likely, and the RS nomenclature seems a bit odd for a low-spec front-biased all-wheel-drive layout. Navigating the configurator on Chevy’s website will almost require a spreadsheet.

And then the pricetag for the RS AWD, at $60,215 as tested, somehow ends up higher than a more luxurious, more eye-catching Cadillac Lyriq. Maybe GM is banking on the fact that most customers who wanted a bold EV will flock to the Caddy’s obviously futuristic styling, while the target base for Blazer will lean more towards conservative shapes and lines. Either way, reps on hand in San Diego believed the Blazer EV would also qualify for federal and local rebates, given GM’s massive investments into American manufacturing.

Chevrolet Blazer EV
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Still, after the Bolt and its EUV variant snatch up the lower end of the EV market, while the Hummer EV and forthcoming Silverado EV offer so much more range, the Blazer’s pricing and spec gradewalk might have been the biggest surprise of the entire San Diego experience. Anyone expecting performance on par with Teslas and Lucids—or even Hyundai and Kia’s higher-performance Ioniq 5 N or EV6 GT—will need to wait for the SS next year and prepare to shell out stacks of cash for the matching front and rear motors to truly max out the Blazer chassis. In the meantime, the lower spec Blazers will certainly serve as a wide range of perfectly respectable EV options that can cater to just about any potential buyer priorities and demographics.

read more