Chevrolet and Honda make popular small and large crossover SUVs but have long lacked a choice in the middle. Interestingly, both companies decided to fill that gap this year with new models that revive nameplates of the past: the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer and the 2019 Honda Passport.
Both the Blazer and the Passport will appeal to buyers for whom a compact SUV such as the Honda CR-V or Chevrolet Equinox is too small, yet a three-row crossover SUV such as the Chevrolet Traverse or Honda Pilot is too big. They're similar in many ways, yet they also have enough differences to pose an interesting choice for shoppers.
These all-new SUVs match up well in important areas. They both offer a stout V6 engine (308 horsepower from the Blazer, 280 horsepower from the Passport) and identical fuel economy — the EPA estimates you'll get 22 mpg in combined city/highway driving. They are also within an inch of each other in overall length. Rear legroom, a key indicator of how many or few complaints you'll receive from backseat passengers, is identical at a stretch-out worthy 39.6 inches.
Pricing is also similar. Chevy offers a stripped-down Blazer L trim that starts at less than $30,000. However, you're unlikely to find this fleet-oriented model on a dealer lot. The more commonplace entry-level Blazer 3.6L Cloth (which has the V6 engine) has an MSRP of $34,495, including destination fees. The base Passport's trim, the Sport, checks in at $33,045. Get a fully loaded model with all-wheel drive, and you're looking at $43,895 for the Blazer Premier or $44,725 for the Passport Elite.
Chevy and Honda cover their crossovers with three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties.
Differences up close
Drill down deeper, however, and differences between the Blazer and the Passport emerge. The Blazer, for example, offers an optional four-cylinder engine, which is what the more affordable L and 2.5L trims have. While we haven't tested it yet, we're skeptical this engine has enough power to haul a Blazer with four passengers and cargo with any authority. Still, it's an alternative for buyers who may just need a no-frills Blazer for commuting. The Passport is exclusively powered by its V6.
All-wheel drive is optional for each. But there's a MSRP pricing advantage for the Passport, at least with the base Sport with all-wheel drive. You'll need to spend about $2,000 more to get a comparable Blazer 3.6L cloth with all-wheel drive.
Because of its horsepower advantage, the Blazer proved to be slightly quicker in Edmunds' 0-60 mph testing. You're unlikely to notice the difference in real-world driving, however. Both SUVs make similar low-end power and torque, a crucial component for initial acceleration and for towing a loaded trailer.
As for interior features and tech, each model has its strengths. The Blazer comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connections. You'll need to step up to the Passport's second trim level, the EX-L, to get the same.
On the other hand, the Passport offers several driver safety and assistance features as standard equipment. Starting on its base trim, the Honda has forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. These are all options on the Blazer's lower and midtier trims.
Edmunds says: The Passport's taller stance and impressive cargo and towing abilities make it ideal for life's daily duties, as well as adventure outside the city limits. The Blazer, with its sleek look and sportier handling, is better suited to on-road performance but more limited in overall ability. If you're looking for a midsize SUV with all-around utility, the Honda Passport is today's top pick.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by automotive website Edmunds. Dan Frio is an automotive editor at Edmunds.