It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

Just before Ford unveiled the new Bronco, Jeep busily attempted to steal the show by sticking a V8 in the Wrangler. Jeep was trying. It was a bit of a dud, but at least it was trying to get in there, get some people thinking again about that stalwart Jeep, not just the new cool Ford. Missing from the conversation was GM, for a good reason: Even GM has to know that the new Blazer is as desirable as falling down a flight of stairs.

We touched on this a bit when we last saw the Blazer in person and declared it “so disappointing it hurts a bit.” My coworker Jason Torchinsky laid things out fairly clearly:

It’s just so damn cynical. If Chevy wants to just slap one of their most valuable names on a bland, wet wad of adequacy like this, then they absolutely deserve scorn. If they’re going to squander everything that the Blazer was on something you can lose in a parking lot almost immediately, then they need to hear that the feeling you get when you see this with the concept of what a Blazer was in your mind is like being gut-punched with a fist full of the grim, grey realisation that nothing really matters.

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Didn’t anyone at Chevy look at what Ford is planning with their re-born Bronco and at least have a moment’s pause and think, huh, maybe we shouldn’t just flush away the Blazer name like this in a cynical, half-arse attempt to shove yet another almost indistinguishable SUV into people’s driveways?

You see, this is why I love GM. All companies have their fair share of messiness, of poor decision making, of internal drama. But with GM, so many of its outwardly visible bad decisions make you know, just know, that behind the scenes there were so many more horrible, mind-reeling other bad decisions that predicated what you see publicly. Everything with GM is the tip of an iceberg. When Cadillac came out with a brand new twin-turbo V8 only to cancel the one car it came in and orphan a highly technical engineering project about five seconds after putting it into production? When GM took on the Tesla Model 3 with the Bolt, an awkwardly-sized not-quite-compact hatchback? You get the sense that these were horrible compromises built atop an endless series of other horrible compromises. It’s dramatic, public failure, and it’s so, so visible.

Photo: GM

And that’s what’s amazing about the Blazer. We all knew it was a bad idea. I get the sense that even GM knew that it wasn’t the best or most interesting, or most outstanding car. But it also felt like it was the best that GM could do, like one little team was trying, desperately, to make something interesting go on as everyone around them struggled within their own fiefdoms. I mean, the Blazer at least got an interesting name.

But it’s also that name that casts its mediocrity into the light. Ford just brought the Bronco back, a desirable vehicle, not just a bland one. Ford and GM aren’t, from a certain perspective, very different companies. They’re both big American car companies. You feel like screaming at GM, it didn’t have to be this way. Look at the Bronco! There was nothing stopping GM from making an interesting Blazer. And yet you get the sense that everything within GM is conspiring against something interesting getting made.