Most recently redesigned in 2018, the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox made an early debut at the Chicago Auto Show a few years ago. Getting fresh exterior styling, an updated interior and a sporty RS trim, the Equinox continues to be Chevrolet's entry into the compact crossover segment. Available only as a 5-passenger, 4-door wagon, Equinox can be ordered with either front- or all-wheel drive. Popular competitors include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Taos.
Trim levels include LS, LT, RS and Premier. All are powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. Sole transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel-drive being optional. Maximum towing capacity is 1,500 pounds.
The new RS model adds black exterior trim, unique 19-inch alloy wheels, black interior with red stitching and specific shift knob. Other new features for 2022 include LED headlamps, available front and rear park assist, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals and wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Prices range from $27,000 to more than $32,000.
Equinox is fairly unique in the segment in offering a single engine. While most competitors offer an efficient base engine and peppy turbocharged upgrade, Equinox tries to strike a middle balance with its turbocharged 1.5-liter four. While it mostly succeeds on the efficiency side, it falls short in the power department. Mostly coming off as underpowered, the engine struggles to maintain pace with a full passenger load requires a heavy prod on the go pedal in passing situations. Even empty, the engine strains to reach 60 MPH from a stop in less than 9 seconds.
Thankfully, the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly downshifts in an effort to provide more power. In addition, the all-wheel drive system does an excellent job of transferring power to the wheels with the most grip. Though it doesn't have a low range, it is one quicker reacting all-wheel-drive systems in the compact crossover segment.
From a fuel-economy standpoint, Equinox is one of the most fuel-efficient offerings in the segment. EPA number of 26/31 MPG with front-wheel drive and 25/30 MPG with all-wheel drive are an easy match for others. In addition, the engine runs fine on regular-grade gasoline and the 15-gallon tank provides a highway range of about 420 miles. In routine suburban commuting expect to average close to 27 MPG overall, perhaps 30 MPG if you throw in a fair amount of highway driving.
Pleasant and easy to drive, the Equinox handles competently. Even in RS trim it's not sporty, choosing instead to pander to the bulk of buyers that are looking for a quiet and comfortable ride free from drama. Steering is accurate and direct, and the brakes provide good stopping power and have an easy-to-modulate pedal. The ride can grow a bit harsh, particularly with the optional 19-inch wheels and rougher stretches of road transmit some unpleasantness into the cabin.
Body motions a kept nicely in check and there's little of the head toss that's common on more firmly spring offering. Quick changes of direction aren't dramatic, but the steering isn't a quick in responding to input at times.
Interior noise levels are exceptionally low, especially at highway speeds.
With a modern design and pleasant materials, Equinox's cabin should appear to a broad audience. Materials are class-average, but trail some of the newer offerings in the class like the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Rogue. The layout is very functional with controls in the expected locations. Drivers face a traditional twin-dual setup that appears a bit dated considering some of the digital gauge clusters in the segment. However, there is no denying they are easy to read, day or night, and are user friendly for a wide range of drivers. Radio and climate controls are fairly traditional though there is no radio tuning knob. Ancillary controls are convenient and clearly marked. In addition, the bevy of steering-wheel-mounted controls makes it very easy for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.
From a tech perspective, Equinox offers all of the expected safety and technology features -- though many require stepping up in trim. Chevrolet's infotainment system is very easy to use and doesn't require a trip through the owner's manual. Adding wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play is almost a requirement at this point, but shows that Chevy is willing to invest to keep up with customer demands.
Space wise, Equinox sits in the middle of the class. Both front- and rear-seat passengers should find themselves comfortable on well-cushioned seats, but there's not an excess of leg room in either and shoulder room is tight. The answer applies to cargo capacity where Equinox offers 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 64 cubic feet overall. The available power tailgate does offer several height settings, which is a nice feature that GM offers on several crossovers. Interior storage is nothing special.
Bottom Line -- Despite almost constant updates, Equinox is one of the older players in the compact crossover game. That shows in mediocre driving dynamics, limited powertrain options and so-so packaging. In this topsy-turvy market where most vehicles are going for MSRP, that hurts it's value proposition, as Equinox has been garnering hearty manufacturer discounts in the past. There's no denying it will be reliable and is likely to meet the needs of typical crossover shoppers, but there are newer offerings that are both more appealing and carry similar price tags.