BEACON, N.Y.—I had arrived at The Roundhouse, a former manufacturing facility in Beacon, N.Y., a small town once known for its hat manufacturing. This facility, like many others in town, had been converted into something else, in this case, a trendy postmodern chic hotel that made me appreciative that I wasn't staying at some generic chain hotel. My room had large picture windows overlooking picturesque manmade rapids. The shower was large enough to host a small group of friends. All was great.
I had travelled here to explore the back roads of the Hudson Valley and its many wonderful small towns. I decided to flop onto the bed and finalize where to drive.
This is when my love affair of the hotel came to a crashing halt. In an era where people are trading in their sedans for crossovers, mainly due to its elevated seating height and ease of getting in and out, some out-of-touch, brain-dead designer thinks that a bed an inch off the floor is glamorous. It's not. Instead, it makes you feel like some poverty-stricken slob sleeping on the floor. Perhaps these decorators are, since many of them live in major metros where housing costs are so high you can't afford bedroom furniture—if there's space for any.
Nevertheless, once grounded on the mattress, I surveyed where I should drive.
I could go to Hyde Park and visit President Roosevelt's home. Nope. Been there. Then there's the Vanderbilt Mansion; too bad I've toured it already. There's always West Point. Oh wait, I've been there too. I could visit Martin Van Buren's home—for the second time. On and on it went until I realized I had never been to the Culinary Institute of America, where the nation's finest chefs get trained. A day or two of tackling the twisties capped by a fabulous gourmet meal would be fun—especially since I would be driving the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer.
Offered in ascending L, Blazer, RS and Premier trim levels, the new Blazer is a crossover, not a pure SUV like its well-known predecessors. Slotting in between the smaller two-row Equinox and larger three-row Traverse, the Blazer offers more on-road thrills than its siblings, and a hefty amount of added style, and counts the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano as its closest competitors.
The Blazer shares its underpinnings with the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac XT5, and comes with a 193-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. A far more powerful 308-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine is optional on L and Blazer models, and standard on RS and Premier trims. A nine-speed automatic is standard with either engine; all-wheel drive is available only with the six-cylinder engine. Towing is rated at 1,500 pounds with front-wheel drive, and 4,500 pounds with all-wheel drive.
Assured and responsive, the V-6 powered Blazer Premier does feel more engaging than the mushy handling typical of this class. The Blazer remains remarkably poised and steady while cornering, with minimal body lean. It absorbs bumps admirably, although you will notice you're crossing them. The strong, smooth flow of power is pleasing in a way no turbocharged four could hope to match, and the transmission shifts discreetly. Nevertheless, for enthusiast driving, you'll wish for faster shifts. While there is a fast-reacting manual mode, it's actuated by a Lilliputian toggle switch on the shifter that's positively useless.
It's surprising given its pleasingly sporty ambience. The interior incorporates design motifs also used in the Camaro, including rotating air-conditioning vent bezels for adjusting the automatic climate control. However, there's no mistaking it for a Camaro; you can actually see out of this vehicle.
And it keeps you connected to your electronic life with an 8-inch color touchscreen with navigation system, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six USB ports.
With supportive seats and a quiet ride, the Blazer's comfortable ride height banished any memories of the floor-high bed, whisking me away to American Bounty, a restaurant that features local produce and a seasonal menu. One of several themed restaurants open to the public, the dining room's ambience was handsomely traditional and quiet. My table overlooked the kitchen, a view I found engagingly entertaining. It was like watching the Food Network without the commercials or senseless blather.
Being one who stringently eats healthy, I succumbed to temptation that ensured I would spend many extra hours working out in the gym. After gluttonously guzzling chicken-fried quail in smoked guava barbecue sauce, butternut-ginger chowder, sake-miso duck breast with glazed sweet potatoes and watercress salad, and finishing with a blueberry napoleon and jasmine tea ice cream, I felt like a candidate for "My 600-Pound Life." I was happy when the Blazer didn't groan under the added weight. I am not sure my own car would be so kind.
Soon, I found myself back at The Roundhouse, lying inches off the floor and listening to the rapids roar by my window. There was something so satisfying about the drive.
In many ways, the Blazer is the classic modern American, boasting flamboyant style, smooth power delivery and impeccable road manners. It's alluring, much like a post-modern hotel like The Roundhouse, although sleeping in the Chevrolet won't find you eye to eye with the floor.
Base price: $29,995-$43,895
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Torque: 270 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 18/25 mpg
Wheelbase: 112.7 inches
Length: 191.4 inches
Cargo capacity: 30.5-64.2 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,246 pounds