This 1989 Chevrolet Blazer Reminds Us When SUVs Were True SUVs

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No leather. No sat-nav systems. Just pure off-road goodness.

Think for a moment about all of the true, body-on-frame chassis SUVs on sale today. Now consider this: do any of them, aside from the Jeep Wrangler, have that Spartan feel that was once an inescapable SUV trait? The answer is no. The Wrangler is all alone here and we think that’s a shame. Why do fully off-road capable new SUVs have to have so many creature comforts? Have buyers really lost their sense of adventure and simple fun for the sake of gaining leather seats and cupholders?

Why not just use a paper map (or your smartphone) to navigate instead of an in-dash system that’ll eventually break? The reason is because automakers learned long ago that America loves SUVs, and now crossovers, but they love them even more when they come equipped with all of the bells and whistles. That translates to big profits.

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But this Motor Week retro review of the 1989 Chevrolet Blazer (before the Tahoe nameplate existed) makes us long for the SUV of old. Okay, we know its 5.7-liter V8 only makes 210 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, but at least the vehicle is honest in every way. This ’89 Blazer doesn’t pretend to be a luxury vehicle, nor does it make a real attempt to offer sedan-like road manners. Heck, there aren’t even rear doors. As for the interior? Well, you can totally forget about cupholders, that’s for sure. This Blazer was part of an era that included the Ford Bronco and the Dodge Ramcharger, and, sadly, they turned out to be the last of their kind.

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