Test Drive: 2023 Chevrolet Equinox Premier
2023 Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD
Class: Compact Crossover
Color: Radiant Red
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||C+|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||175-horsepower 1.5-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged four|
Miles driven: 150
Observed fuel economy: 21.4 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 24/30/26 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $33,100 (not including $1395 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Power sunroof ($1495), Confidence and Convenience II Package ($1745), Infotainment II Package ($1125), special paint ($495)
Price as tested: $39,355
The great: Classy Cabin, premium ride and handling, plenty of people and cargo space
The good: Logical control layout, easy-to-read touchscreen
The not so good: Clunky low-speed drivetrain behavior
If Chevrolet has a secret, it’s the Equinox. While most small-crossover shoppers waded through a supply-chain choked market last year, scrambling to locate Honda CR-Vs, Hyundai Tucsons, Kia Sportages, and Toyota RAV4s, the surprisingly likable Equinox was quietly racking up sales—and likely happy owners.
Somehow, some way, while would-be shoppers were putting deposits down on vehicles that would not arrive for weeks—and sometimes months—Chevrolet managed to deliver an Equinox to 212,000 customers last year, placing the small utility in third place in the compact crossover segment sales race, behind only the CR-V and RAV4. And, Chevy did this with a relatively tidy and uncomplicated Equinox product lineup.
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Freshened for the 2022 model, the Equinox returns for 2023 with just four trim levels and just one engine offering.
The 2023 Chevrolet Equinox is offered in entry-level LS trim (starting at $27,995), popular LT trim ($30,695), sporty RS trim ($33,695), and luxury Premier trim ($34,795). Add $1395 for destination, and, if desired, $1600 for AWD.
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The sole powertrain consists of a 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A muscular 2.0-liter turbocharged four mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission was dropped from the roster for the 2022 model year. And, unlike the CR-V, Tucson, Sportage, and RAV4, Equinox is not offered with a hybrid powertrain, an omission which will no doubt disappoint a significant number of shoppers in this segment.
Though the trim-level options are few, Chevy does make available to shoppers a number of ways to customize the look of their Equinox, including the $595 Sport Edition, which includes unique badges, body-color mirror caps, and 18-inch glossy black alloy wheels. For the same price the Midnight Edition offers similar trim and wheel upgrades.
Consumer Guide recently spent time with a top-trim Equinox Premier AWD. Our test vehicle included the power sunroof ($1495), Confidence and Convenience II Package ($1745), Infotainment II Package ($1295), and optional Radiant Red Tintcoat paint ($495). Included in the Infotainment package are the Bose premium-audio system, navigation system, 8-inch touchscreen (up from 7-inches), wireless CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and expanded voice-command functionality. The bottom line: $39,355.
And while $40,000 may feel like a lot of money to spend on a small crossover, the Equinox Premier surprises with near-luxury refinement and legitimately upscale cabin appointments. The supportive and comfortable front-row seats, for example, include power control with 2-way lumbar adjustment and are finished in rich-looking two-tone leather.
Indeed, the Equinox cabin comes across as modern and classy, with the only disappointment coming in the form of hard plastic around the center console and on the lower door panels.
We found touchscreen functionality to be excellent, with the system responding promptly to touches, and general operation to be simple and easy to learn.
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The luxury experience continues underway. Ride and handling match that of many premium-brand small crossovers, and overall quietness is class leading. There’s also plenty of adult room in both the first and 2nd seating rows, with entry and egress made easier by large door openings. Outward visibility from the driver’s seat is also excellent. Additionally, a low load floor means that stowing large items in the cargo area is less of a chore than it might be.
Out single serious complaint concerns the drivetrain. While the small, turbocharged engine serves up adequate power—and a little more—it does so in a surprisingly, and un-General Motors like, crude fashion. The 6-speed automatic does more shifting than it seems to need to, and the engine seems to spool out for longer periods of time during even gentle acceleration than one might expect. Summary: Equinox isn’t as smooth operating around town as the competition.
Our fuel economy disappointed somewhat, though our 21.4 mpg return came during a period of extreme cold and significant snowfall. Our mileage would no doubt have been more impressive during a period of milder weather.
No, the Equinox cannot be had with a hybrid or plug-in hybrid drivetrain, it’s only offered in four flavors, and it’s not especially quick. It is, however, surprisingly luxurious, and boasts convincingly upscale trappings. It’s also roomy and very comfortable. Don’t say we didn’t let you in on the secret.
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