Always the quiet ones, the wallflowers, the je ne sais quoi of the sprawling SUV field. The equinox occurs twice per year when the sun crosses the celestial equator, perfectly balancing night and day; it’s hard to call anything in any vehicle perfectly balanced, but the Equinox endures through a period of supply constraints, economic hardship, and a more critical (and demanding) market and public eye than ever. It is the Fleet SUV of the Year.
The sun is setting on the third generation as Chevrolet revealed the new-look Equinox in February 2020 at the Chicago Auto Show. Featuring a new front grille, redesigned headlamps, taillamps, and rear bumper, the Equinox is available in five trims: L, LS, LT, Premier, and RS. Originally slated for less options, the overwhelming success of GM’s SUV categories prompted more options for consumers and fleets everywhere.
“Customer choice is a competitive advantage for Chevrolet,” said Steve Majoros, vice president, Chevrolet marketing, in a press release for the Equinox, “and special editions and unique trims allow us to offer customers the custom look they want straight from the factory.”
Despite the exterior changes, not much changed under the hood of last year’s Equinox from the previous edition, but this wasn’t because of waning popularity; instead, the pandemic shuttered Equinox production. Like many manufacturers, GM chose to cut some features instead of adding to the popular SUV, and the optional turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine was dropped from the model lineup.
With a fuel tank capacity of 14.9 gallons on the FWD version and 15.6 on the AWD, the Equinox sports a robust mileage rating of 26 miles per gallon in the city and breaches 30 miles per gallon on the highway, making the SUV one of the most fuel-efficient on the road in a competitive category. The 1.5L turbo DOHC engine features direct fuel injection and 170 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and 203 lb.-ft. torque at 2,000-4,000 rpm. A Hydra-Matic six-speed transmission moves the vehicle atop a MacPherson strut and four-link independent rear suspension, offering 1,500-pound trailering capacity and a max cargo volume of 63.9 cubic feet, combining some of the power of the mid-size truck category with more space than most sedans can offer. A Chevrolet logo-projection liftgate and exterior heated and power-adjustable mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators help anchor the Equinox as a tech-forward, contemporary vehicle.
Like many SUVs, the Equinox balances power and comfort with smooth six-speed automatic gear changes and pinpoint steering response atop 17- and 18-inch standard wheels, with the larger 19-inch available as an option on all models.
Inside, cupholders abound—especially in higher trim levels—and the interior is anchored by a 7.0-inch color touchscreen (8.0 inches is available) in the center of the dashboard. Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system features many of the standard bells and whistles one expects with a contemporary smart vehicle and wireless integration; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard as well as Bluetooth and audio streaming, USB connectivity, and an auxiliary input jack. The Equinox features onboard Wi-Fi, helping it stand out among many other crossovers and SUVs that lack the same.
From a safety perspective, the Equinox rivals most SUVs at the highest level. It garnered a five-star award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Equinox features standard automated emergency braking, lane-assist, and automatic high-beam headlamps, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning. Adaptive cruise control is optional.