December 3, 2023
Crossover SUVs are everywhere. According to CarSalesBase, these ubiquitous four-wheel drive vehicles are the most popular segment of the auto industry. U.S. sales rose by 12.6% in 2018 to 3,557,102, a record high. This makes sense, as they are easy to drive and have a spacious interior. They also perform well in bad weather conditions and on off-road terrain. How can you make a particular model stand out from the rest?

Steve McCabe was asked this question by General Motors’ senior lead designer when he set out to design the new Chevy blazer. Even without the added challenge of competing in a highly competitive market, it isn’t easy to revive one of General Motors’ most iconic names (the 1969 original). He says that the pressure was from within. “It was our challenge — from a design/engineering/sculpting perspective — not to miss the mark during execution.”

McCabe’s team took inspiration from the sporty Camaro to design an SUV that is unlike anything else you see on the road. The Blazer’s aggressive look is a result of its wide stance, bold sculpting, and available 308 horsepower V6. The vehicle’s interior offers 4G Wi-Fi connectivity and intuitive controls, as well as a number of convenience and safety options.

The entrepreneur spoke to McCabe about how he and the team followed a directive from GM leadership in order to create a vehicle that stood out.

Chevy Blazers are a classic nameplate. Why did Chevy choose this name for the model?

This is an iconic nameplate! We chose this nameplate because we thought the new Blazer was just as iconic but in a more modern and unique way.

Do You have any memories of the original?

When I was very little, my father owned a K5 Blazer. I don’t remember it personally, but I remember my father telling me about it. He still talks about it to this day.

Do you have any design cues that are similar to previous versions?

No. We wanted to steer the design of this vehicle away from a “retro” persona and towards a more modern/progressive one.

Which features make the Blazer useful to those who are looking for a mobile workplace?

The rear storage is very handy, and it was surprising how much you can fit. The sliding seats are great, especially for parents who still use child seats. You can move them forward to reach your children from the front seat. The connectivity is easy to use and intuitive. I also love the safety features. Although I do not encourage multi-tasking when driving, I can attest that both the blindside and forward collision alarms are lifesavers to those of us who become occasionally distracted.

There are so few crossover SUVs. What makes the Blazer different?

Styling. The new Blazer stands out in a very conservative market. We started with a solid base and built upon it by creating two distinct personalities, the Premier and RS. The Premier is aimed at a formal/luxury buyer who enjoys bright accents/work and an upscale appearance. The trim color matches the body. The RS is for someone who wants something a bit more sporty/aggressive. It has black chrome accents and gloss black trim.

How much time have you spent behind the wheel?

I’ve driven it around Detroit a few times. I’ve had the pleasure of driving a number of interesting and cool vehicles in my career with General Motors. But none has garnered the same level of attention as the bright-red RS that I recently owned. It’s a very attractive color. A couple of people offered to buy my car on the spot. It is a truly rewarding experience to be able to drive a car we have all spent so much time and effort on and turn some heads.

Would it be fair to say that this is a Camaro dressed as an SUV?

The Blazer was designed to answer a question posed by our leadership, “What would the Camaro SUV be like?” We used the iconic styling DNA from the Camaro to create a great package for an SUV. The Blazer has an aggressive look that Camaro enthusiasts love — the grille and dynamic line work. It also offers the functionality and versatility that today’s SUV buyers need. In that respect, we feel the Blazer strikes a perfect balance. It has all the functionality but does not compromise on style, which is often the case when you move from a sports vehicle to an SUV.

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