Few segments in the auto industry are as crowded and competitive as the compact crossover segment. While Toyota and Honda deservedly rule the sales roost with impressive CR-V and RAV4 offerings, the number three sales leader happens to be an unlikely candidate whose attractive base price drives sales – the Chevrolet Equinox.
When it comes to buying a new car (or crossover), price is admittedly not everything. During tight economic times, and given higher interest rates, consumers are making the price more of a deciding factor. This is where Equinox stands tall with a base price of $26,600 (base Honda CR-V is $31,310).
Conservative Looks (Add RS)
One of the things I appreciate most about the 2023 Chevy Equinox is its willingness to be itself. It has a very conservative style that lacks a lot of the excessive chiseled edges and creases of similar models and the faux off-road options of some variants in the segment. I can respect that Equinox is fine being rather average.
The current Equinox design debuted in 2018. That’s a very long time in automotive years to stay pretty much the same. While there have been several subtle design updates, including headlights that hide the amber of their turn signals to become all white; the fog lights became slimmer, and the taillights reflect darker red.
If you really want to add a little pepper to your Equinox, I recently tested the upgraded RS model. While the crossover RS’ performance remains the same, it presents as a sportier model by replacing the chrome trim with black accents – and adding larger 19-inch black rims.
The five-seat Equinox offers room for adults to sit comfortably in the front and rear. My RS featured a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, and even a heated steering wheel. I really liked that the backseat splits to maximize cargo space. My Equinox tester had 29.9 cubic feet of space behind its rear seat, which folds down easily to provide up to 63.9 cubic feet for cargo storage.
When it comes to vehicle cabins, one of the negative things technology has achieved is making the operation of standard features – too complex. Yes, just because you can add new tech features – does not mean you should. Give points to Equinox in this category.
Everything in the Equinox cabin is incredibly simple and intuitive. The infotainment screen in any vehicle can be laden with landmines intended to look great or highlight new tech – but they oftentimes are not worth the effort it takes to navigate them. I’m not saying every system with new tech is unintuitive or anything showcasing new touchscreen tech is bad, but there is much to be said for simple knobs and audio and climate control buttons.
Also on the upside, I really appreciated the wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Even with my RS tester’s red accents on the dash and upholstery, the interior feels a bit dull. While my cabin had the upgraded gray leather package ($1,580) and a power sunroof ($1,465) that did elevate the space, it’s still average at best. A bit of hard plastic is noticeable across the cabin, though this is how Chevy can offer that low entry price.
The Equinox features a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 175 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that has seen better days, you will not find much excitement pushing this crossover hard. This is a pedestrian combo that delivers capability and good fuel economy. It can tow up to 1,500 pounds.
My RS tester had all-wheel drive and it costs you about 1 mpg compared to the standard front-wheel-drive model. Front-wheel-drive Equinoxes give you 26 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined, while AWD nets you 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined.
The Equinox has earned five out of five stars in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, and it offers an impressive line of standard and optional safety equipment. Look for automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard equipment, as well as a lane-departure warning with lane-keeping steering assistance.
Blind-spot monitoring with a rear cross-traffic alert is available as standard or optional on all Equinox trim levels, and a surround-view parking camera is optional on all trims but the base LS.
Equinox is successful because a majority of consumers really just want something to reliably get them from point A to point B. With a bargain starting price of $26,600 for the base model 2023 Chevrolet Equinox LS, you can hold onto some of your money or push it into a higher-level model like my RS tester ($30,700). The real value in the Equinox is price, but safety and fuel economy are big pluses, too.
John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing, and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations, and vehicles.