Since it was first introduced in 2004, the Chevy Equinox has been one of the best-selling compact crossovers in the country. And after a week test driving the 2023 version that included a round trip from Portland to Medford, it is easy to see why. The small SUV was always pleasant to drive, with plenty of interior room, a smooth ride, decent mileage, and optional all-wheel-drive that could be engaged with touch of a button when roads got slick.
Despite all that, the automotive press has never been enthusiastic about the Equinox. It has never been the fastest, most stylish, or most technologically advanced affordable crossover on the market. Even the 2008-2009 Sport/SS version with a 3.6-liter V6, sport-tuned suspension and lowered suspension didn’t win them over, either. But value-oriented families kept buying them anyway, demonstrating the gap that exists between most reviewers and the public.
Truth be told, with the 2022 redesign, Chevy gave some buyers a reason to hesitate. Despite sharper styling, the company dropped the more powerful optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four, making the previous base turbocharged 1.5-liter four the only available engine. But the tiny powerplant proved more than adequate on the steep interstate freeway stretches through the mountain passes to and from Southern Oregon, delivering just over 25 miles per gallon by the end of the test.
The 2023 Equinox is available in four trim levels, beginning with the base LS starting at 27,995 and moving up through the LT at $29,095, the RS at $32,095, and the top-of-the-line Premier at $33,195. My tester was the RS version introduced in 2022. It features a bolder front end, black wheels, and other special trim, including red interior stitching and the optional 8-inch display screen. It was mechanically the same as other AWD-equipped versions, however. No variation is designed for serious off-road driving, although those with AWD should be able to easily handle light to moderate trails to recreational destinations.
One reason Chevy didn’t do anything more with the 2023 Equinox may be that it’s releasing an all-electric model later this year. Aside from the name, the two of them have nothing in common. The Equinox EV will be built on a different platform, will be powered by one or two electric motors, and will feature the kind of bold exterior and interior styling likely to appeal to automotive writers.
Chevy should not ignore the gas-powered version of the Equinox, however. Many buyers are not ready or willing to go full electric. Challenges include the lack of a secure place to recharge overnight, the shortage of conveniently located public charging stations, and the need to make trips that exceed range limits. There will be a market for traditional crossovers for a long time some competitors may eventually figure out the value corner of the market where the Equinox is now so popular.
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