There may not be a lot you can do when you are feeling too busy or stressed, but there is still one classic way to leave it all behind: the road trip. Whether you’re looking to take advantage of all your unused PTO or able to work wherever you have Wifi access, there’s never been a better time to hit the open road. And there’s never been a better compact SUV to blend comfort and convenience as you trek than the 2021 Chevy Equinox. This small SUV is a perfect companion when you want to take a road trip because it offers enough space to not feel cramped, excellent gas mileage, and is small enough to maneuver everywhere. So, let’s look at where you can go in this road trip champion.
Everyday is a Winding Road
We’ll start our list of great drives on the West Coast and work our way left to right across the country. So, of course, we have to start with the Pacific Coast Highway. The PCH stretches 1,650 miles of the Golden State from the Mexican border north to Oregon. Or the other way around if you want to end in the sun and be in the lane closest to the ocean the whole way. There are plenty of access points to the PCH, so you can plan your trip to see the Hollywood sign or the redwoods, or any of the beautiful Californian coasts in between. Big Sur, in particular, is a great stop. About two and a half hours south of San Francisco and about five and a half north of L.A., Big Sur has everything from hiking to whale watching, and most things in between.
The iconic Route 66 stretches from Santa Monica in California across eight states to end in Chicago. Much of the road has been decommissioned, so don’t just rely on your GPS to help you traverse it. If you travel an hour or so off the original route, you can hit national parks like Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and a bit further south, the Grand Canyon. Closer to the six-six, you can still find plenty of nature like the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater – a nearly half-mile crater left from a meteor that hit northern Arizona over 50,000 years ago. The Oatman Ghost Town is another great Arizonan stop along Route 66. Just watch out for the burros.
Lake Shore Drive is a classic Chicago road that provides excellent views of really interesting city architecture on the shore of Lake Michigan, like the Willis Tower, once the tallest building in the world. But the real fun happens as you follow the great lake north on highway 131. You’ll find historic towns to stop in, like Holland, MI, home to the Dutch Village. This park has rides for the kids, demonstrations of old-world crafts and culture, and if the timing is right, acres and acres of tulips. Keep heading north, and you’ll get to Mackinac Island. Ironically, there are no cars allowed on the island, but it’s well worth taking a break from driving to ferry over and check out the museums and forts by foot or bike or even horse-drawn carriage. Don’t miss the ice cream!
From southern Virginia through western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is known as America’s Favorite Drive and one of the most beautiful drives in the country, especially during leaf-peeping season. Besides amazing views of the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll also find Linville Gorge, the deepest east of the Grand Canyon, and Whitewater Falls, the highest east of the Rockies. On top of all the nature, you can also take in regional music and learn about folk art and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Of note: the 469 winding miles of the Parkway do not allow tractor-trailers, so you’ll never have a big truck block your viewing.
Less than a day’s drive from New York City, you’ll find the Thousand Islands region. If you want to be technical, it’s 1,864 islands straddling the U.S./Canada border. Much like the drive from Chicago to Mackinac Island, there’s a lot to see by boat when you get there, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination. If you take 87 as your route out of NYC, you’ll get to the Thousand Islands through the Hudson Valley, which has its own wealth of interesting stops, from hiking trails to wineries. The best way to see many of the islands at once is by boat tour. The never-finished but beautifully restored Boldt Castle on Heart Island and Singer Castle on Dark Island are two spots you’ll want to take time to explore. There’s also plenty of activities, including hiking trails, standup paddle boarding, and whitewater rafting.
For another water-themed vehicular excursion, you can check out Florida’s Overseas Highway. Not an over-exaggeration, this southernmost part of U.S. 1 includes one of the longest bridges in the world, the Seven Mile Bridge. On this road, you can see the best of the most southern areas of the country, from the mainland Everglades to the Keys. Besides the Seven Mile Bridge, U.S. 1 here connects all of the keys, from Largo to West, providing an abundance of amazing Atlantic scenery. You can stop almost anywhere and find great seafood dinners, water sports, and serene beaches.
King of the Road
So, why is the Chevy Equinox the vehicle you should take on your road trip excursion? The 2021 Chevy Equinox starts at $23,800 – leaving plenty of room in the budget for travel – and comes in four trims: the L, LS, LT, and Premier. The Equinox engine is a 1.5-liter turbo with 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, plenty of power for changing lanes on the highway and taking those backroad turns with ease. And with an EPA-estimated 26 MPG city and 31 MPG highway (25 city and 30 highway with AWD), you can go quite a ways on your journey between fill ups.
Upgrading to the Premier allows you to choose a heated steering wheel. LED head and tail lamps are standard on this luxury model, as is a power liftgate. You can add that liftgate to the LT, too. If you’re planning to lie back and look at the stars, you’ll want to know that a power panoramic sunroof is available on the LT and Premier. As you’re planning to spend a lot of time in your vehicle, it’s also worth noting that the Premiere has ambient interior lighting, as well as an available premium seven-speaker audio system. All Equinoxes except the L have a cargo package available with a retractable cargo shade and vertical cargo net. The LT lets you add remote start and dual-zone automatic climate control; these are standard on the Premiere.
An eight-way power driver’s seat is available on the LS, standard on the LT and Premium, and something you’ll definitely want to consider on a long drive. An equal front passenger seat is available on the Premium, along with heated rear door-side seats. The standard Chevy infotainment system comes with a 7” color touchscreen. You can upgrade an inch with LT and Premium. This system lets you connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto to back hands-free calls and access your favorite streaming services and map apps.
Another big road trip perk to the Equinox is Chevy’s active noise cancellation. Besides having sound-dampening built into the windshield and window glass, there are tiny in-cabin microphones that recognize and counteract unwanted engine and road noise, so your hands-free calls and favorite playlists are as clear and crisp as you could ask for. 12-volt power outlets are standard both upfront and in the cargo area of all 2021 Equinoxes, so you can lay back and charge all your gear when you stop for the night. Front USB ports, both type-A and type-C, are available with the LT and standard on the Premium, along with an auxiliary input jack and SD card reader.
All 2021 Chevy Equinoxes come standard with Chevy Safety Assist. This package includes automatic emergency braking – handy for those burros in Oatman – a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, Intellibeam automatic high beam headlights, and a rear vision camera. This camera comes in an HD version on the Premier, and you can add it as an option to the LT.
Besides all of the standard features included with Chevy Safety Assist, adaptive cruise control and a rear cross traffic alert are available. You can also add rear parking assist and a lane change alert with a side blind zone alert. OnStar Safety and Security packages are also available, as are HD Surround Vision and a safety alert seat. Other standard safety features include a rear seat check reminder and a teen driver technology package, helpful if your road trip is of the family variety.
Send Me on My Way
The 2021 Chevy Equinox builds on over a decade and a half of dependable compact SUV history. Combining that dependability and safety with its 63.9 cubic feet of cargo space means that the Equinox is an excellent road trip vehicle, perfect for spreading out a sleeping bag and falling asleep under the stars. The Equinox can also tow up to 1,500 lbs when properly equipped. You could use that towing capability to haul motorcycles, jet skis, or snowmobiles, depending on where your road trip is taking you and what you want to do off-road. No matter where you live, there’s a lot to see, and the Chevy Equinox is a great way to get there.