2022 Chevrolet Equinox RS AWD: Hey, look, a pretty new Equinox!
Price: $35,970 as tested. Advanced Safety Package added $650; more options noted throughout.
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes that it has “tons of passenger space, agile on-road behavior, generous infotainment features,” but not the “weak four-cylinder engine, pricier than most rivals, largest wheel size reduces ride quality.”
Marketer’s pitch: “Life is better in a Chevy SUV.”
Reality: Unfortunately, the changes are mainly on the surface.
What’s new: The handsome new Equinox exterior gave a strong first impression, and interior upgrades also appear inviting.
But down deep, the Chevrolet Equinox is pretty much the same since the 2018 model. And that wouldn’t be so bad if the 2018 model were breaking new ground. But it wasn’t.
At first glance, I hoped the Equinox had gone the way of the redone GMC Canyon midsize pickup, which made a nice impression in recent Mr. Driver’s Seat testing.
Up to speed: The Equinox 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder creates 170 horsepower, on the low side for any modern vehicle. It gets the midsize SUV to 60 mph in a lazy 9.6 seconds, according to Consumer Reports.
The Equinox could feel reasonably peppy, though, and the acceleration doesn’t fall off a cliff in the 30-50 range like some vehicles, but I never did have the chance to load up the Equinox with passengers or cargo. I’d recommend adding all the people and stuff you might ever pack in during a test drive.
Shifty: On the bright side, the PRNDL uses an old-fashioned gearshift lever. But there’s no way to control gear selections and no special driving modes.
What’s worse, underneath it all is a six-speed automatic. Another nostalgia piece.
On the road: Handling from the Equinox started out disagreeable but eventually we found a way to work together. Still, there’s a strong sense of three-generations-ago Corolla in the Equinox, with lots of steering play and no feedback.
Highway handling is not bad, though, as a trip to Philadelphia attested.
Driver’s Seat: The seat is short and narrow, with lumbar that won’t retract all the way in.
The leather seats come courtesy of the $1,580 RS Leather Package, which also added Bose Premium seven-speaker sound.
Friends and stuff: Rear-seat passengers should be pleased with the accommodations. The floor sits low, the seat high, and there is no hump to engender any fights about whose feet are sliding into whose space, something I’m still attuned to after raising Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0 for all those years.
While the seat offers plenty of room, the leather seat is on the firm side, and the seat back leans in an awkward way, without the option to adjust it.
Cargo space is 29.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 63.9 behind the front seat, and the seat folds flat.
Play some tunes: Another entrant in the “Things that are not new and definitely could be improved” category is the circa-2010 stereo interface that’s pretty standard in GM vehicles. It has a small volume dial in the center, a couple of helpful buttons stuck underneath the touchscreen, and no discernible rhyme or reason to any of it.
The eight-inch touchscreen is part of the $895 Infotainment Package, which also added a heated steering wheel, some data ports, and Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus with Navigation.
Getting around the system is fairly simple, though, and sound from the unit is about a B+. Adjusting treble down leaves too much bass and vice versa.
Keeping warm and cool: The HVAC system features a bevy of buttons for most controls, with dials for temperature.
Manufacturing issue: Seat heaters were deleted for a $50 credit, to be retrofitted later. It’s a strange time in automobile manufacturing — chip shortage, said a GM rep.
Fuel economy: All this ho-hum driving would be almost tolerable if the Equinox provided 30 mpg or better. But 21 is nowhere near good enough, not even in a far better midsize SUV.
Where it’s built: Ingersoll, Ontario.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports gives this reliability rating of 3 out of 5, as middling as everything else about this vehicle.
In the end: This is such a well-served market segment — the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester among them — that practically any other offering would do better.