(CNN) – An all-new Chevrolet Blazer that will go on sale next year was unveiled at an event in Atlanta on Thursday.
General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, hasn’t made a Blazer since 2005. The world has gone mad for SUVs, so an automaker like GM needs to offer one of every imaginable size. This new Blazer is designed to be a little bigger and roomier than the compact Chevrolet Equinox but smaller than the big Traverse crossover SUV with its three rows of seats.
It’s not just about size, though, said Michael Simcoe, GM’s global head of design. The new Blazer also has a sportier character than Chevrolet’s other SUVs. The Chevrolet designer team didn’t try to make it look like the old Blazers, he said, but they did want it to reflect their youthful appeal.
The new Blazer can seat up to five people and will be offered with a choice of 4-cylinder or V6 engines. The back seats will slide backward or forward 5.5 inches to create more cargo room or more legroom, depending on needs. With the biggest V6 engine, it will be able to tow 4,500 pounds.
GM will make the SUV in Ramos, Mexico, and it will be available in a number of versions, including the luxury-trimmed Blazer Premier and sporty-looking Blazer RS. Pricing and fuel economy information will be available closer to when the Blazer goes on sale early next year.
Why is GM building such a high-profile SUV aimed at an American audience in its Ramos, Mexico, plant?
Mexican plants have cheaper labor costs than in the United States, and GM’s Ramos plant is already set up to manufacture bigger cars, including the Equinox SUV. (It also makes the smaller hatchback Cruze there.)
GM operates three assembly plants in Mexico. The Silao and San Luis Potosi locations are the two others. The company employs about 15,000 there.
But the decision to build vehicles in Mexico is fraught with controversy.
The Trump administration has threatened to penalize automakers that import cars and trucks to the United States. The White House is also seeking changes to NAFTA, which currently allows free movement of vehicles and parts across the US borders with Mexico and Canada. Vehicles built in Mexico and Canada and sold in the US market use many parts built in US factories.
GM is not alone in building vehicles in Mexico for the US market. All of the major automakers have plants in Mexico building cars and trucks for the US market.
The last time the Blazer was built by GM in 2005, it was manufactured in three plants that have long since closed — in Moraine, Ohio, Linden, New Jersey, and Pontiac, Michigan.