Although it doesn’t have a legacy going back as far as some of the other models you’ll find at a new or used Chevy dealer, the Equinox has quickly become one of the most popular SUVs on the road. There’s not just one thing that is done right to attain this position – it’s a combination of numerous features and design decisions that have all come together perfectly. It’s easy to think of the Chevy Equinox as a bit of a basic model within the larger car market, but the reality is that while it might not be especially flashy, it does what it does well. This has made it not only Chevy’s most popular SUV but also the upcoming flagship for the new focus on building an all-electric lineup of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).
The Chevy Equinox Gets Its Start
The Equinox is a midsize crossover SUV that was first revealed at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. It utilized the Theta platform from GM; the Pontiac Torrent, revealed around the same time, was a restyled version of it. Although the Equinox was first shown to the world in 2003, it didn’t become available until its release in 2004 for the 2005 model year. It was a replacement for the Geo Tracker (sold as the Chevy Tracker in Canada) and the Chevy S-10 Blazer, a popular model available throughout the 1980s and ‘90s.
A true crossover, the Equinox was developed with a unibody structure much like a sedan, with a midsize design to appeal to a wide range of potential drivers. Front-wheel drive (FWD) has come standard on the Equinox since it was first released, with all-wheel drive (AWD) available, though this is by no means an off-road model. The available AWD helps make the Equinox more reliable on dirt roads or in slippery weather conditions, which has helped with its popularity among many drivers.
During its first generation, the Equinox came with a standard 3.4L V6 engine that delivers 185 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque; toward the end of its initial run, Chevy introduced an available 3.6L V6 with 264 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque for the 2008 and 2009 model years. This first generation for the Equinox ended with the 2009 model year; the Pontiac Torrent also ended that year as GM discontinued the entire Pontiac brand, but it would be replaced by the GMC Terrain that would be built on the same platform as the Equinox going forward.
The Evolution of the Equinox
The second-generation Equinox was unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show and went on sale in June of that year as a 2010 model. For its second generation, the Equinox was reengineered but continued to use an updated version of the Theta platform; its engines were also upgraded for improved performance and fuel economy. A 2.4L I-4 engine was standard, delivering 182 hp, while an available 3.0L V6 pushed that up to 264 hp. This available engine was later updated again to 301 hp for a more robust driving experience – FWD remained standard with AWD available.
For the 2016 model year, the Equinox received a mid-cycle update and refresh that included a revised exterior with a new front grille, headlights, and more, along with numerous interior changes and improvements. More trims became available with this update, including a new Premier trim that set the standard as the high-end option for the Equinox. This updated second-generation model became incredibly popular due to its combination of impressive performance, excellent fuel efficiency, and low price, making it a great option for many drivers.
In 2017, a third generation for the Equinox kicked off for the 2018 model year, marking a new milestone for this surprisingly dynamic crossover model. For this update, the Equinox was redesigned and engineered as a smaller option, moving from a midsize to a compact model – the Chevy Blazer took over its position in the midsize slot with the 2019 model year. Three engines became available with this new generation, including two turbocharged I-4 options and even a 1.6L turbo-diesel, something not seen on many compact crossovers at the time.
The Current Equinox
Today, the Equinox has become Chevy’s best selling SUV and one of their top-selling vehicles; only the Silverado sells more models. The Equinox received another refresh for the 2022 model year. It has been restyled with an updated exterior that includes a new front grille, redesigned headlamps, and a lower front fascia that all come together to give it a sleeker look than ever before. Its trim levels have also been changed and simplified with four options for drivers to choose from: the standard LS, an upgraded LT, a street-styled RS, and the high-end Premier with fantastic features inside and out.
FWD on the Equinox remains the standard for the 2023 model, with AWD available across the different trim levels. Every model comes with a 1.5L Turbo I-4 engine that delivers 175 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. While this is less power than in some previous years, car buyers have shown a clear preference for the standard engine and the level of performance it delivers. It’s also hard to argue with the estimated 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG of highway fuel efficiency that this engine brings to the road.
Chevy has leaned into the sporty nature of the modern Equinox as a compact option that’s fun to drive in cities and on the highway. The Premier model has an 8-inch infotainment display, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. This is joined by other great features like a hands-free gesture rear liftgate, heated power outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, and much more. Plus, every Equinox model comes with the standard Chevy Safety Assist package of features, including a forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist with a lane departure warning, and other great safety systems.
The Future of the Chevy Equinox
In case it wasn’t clear that the Equinox has become Chevy’s most popular SUV – and one of their most popular models overall, its future makes it even more apparent. Chevy has been revealing its part in GM’s overall push toward having a completely electric lineup of vehicles by 2035, which includes vehicles they have now, like the Bolt and Bolt EUV. Along with the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV, they’ve also unveiled two SUV models to help push toward an all-electric future: an Equinox EV and Blazer EV. The Blazer is expected to be available first between these two, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the Equinox EV for Chevy to gain a strong foothold in the growing BEV market.
The Equinox EV is set to be available in the fall of 2023 as a 2024 model, with a full lineup of options beyond its introductory model available in the spring of 2024. Early details include an estimated range of up to 300 miles from a full charge, easy charging options including about 70 miles of range from just 10 minutes using a public DC fast charging station, and much more. Plus, the available eAWD will allow the Equinox EV to go from 0 to 60 in just six seconds, and it will get an impressive 290 hp, making it the most exciting version of this crossover that we’ve ever seen. This is just the start for the all-new, all-electric Equinox EV and an impressive sign of things to come.