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Review: 2019 Chevy Equinox Premier AWD

Before I even got behind the wheel of the Chevy Equinox – my first time to ever drive one – I was curious what others thought of it.

Discrepancies immediately popped up. Many of the professional reviewers were giving it anywhere from 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5. But actual owners had it hovering around 4.5. In other words, regular folks liked it much better than the so-called experts.

As soon as my week was up and I turned the Equinox back in, I realized who I sided with. And it wasn’t the professional gearheads.

This is a former mid-size crossover SUV that today is often classed as a compact, thanks to a diet that shed about 5 inches in length over the years. It holds 5 passengers comfortably, and while it won’t set the world on fire with performance numbers, it’s a fun ride.

The Basics

There are four trim levels of the Equinox to choose from, but that’s a bit misleading. The base model, known simply as the L, will be hard to find on car lots because it’s a special order.

After that we’re left with the LS, the LT, and then (no, not the LU) the Premier. My week-long test ride came in the all-wheel-drive version of the Premier.

Along with the trim choices, you also get to pick between engines. The base 1.5-L 4 cylinder provides about 170 horsepower, and most reviewers (both pro and amateur) agree that this is an underpowered drive.

Stepping up to the 2.0-L turbo 4 bumps that power up to about 250 horses, and pairs it with a 9-speed automatic transmission.

If you’re really wanting solid fuel economy, ask your dealer about the diesel option, which can boost your mileage to nearly 40 mpg on the highway.

If you live in Colorado or another snowy climate, just know that the base L comes only with front-wheel drive; stepping up to at least the LS allows you to choose AWD.

The Inside

I might take a few marks off the Equinox for interior materials, which seemed a bit on the low-rent side. But overall I found it a quiet, comfortable ride.

There’s plenty of space to spread out for the folks up front, with roominess to spare. Even your backseat passengers will be comfy as long as you don’t opt for the panoramic sunroof, which is a super-cool feature but costs your taller rear passengers some headroom.

I liked the leather-wrapped steering wheel, although it could telescope outward a touch more for my liking.

Storage up front is also quite good, with a deep well between the two front seats. Chevy has installed some cell phone holders, too, that use a protective rubber coating to cradle your digital companion.

Cargo space in the back scores about average for the segment, coming up short against some competitors. But overall it seemed plenty to me, especially with the rear seat folded. There’s also room below, if you really need to stash your goods.

The Drive

Again, I’m siding with the average Joes and Josies on this. I enjoyed my trips around Denver in the Equinox. The ride is pleasant, the steering and handling are at least average if not a bit better, and the noise levels are good.

I give this compact SUV a high score for acceleration, too. I never once felt compromised when merging onto the highway. The turbo 4-cylinder can handle all you got. (This is where you’d regret taking the standard 1.5-L engine.)

Visibility is mostly good, although, like many SUVs, you’re limited in your blindspot viewing by a pillar. (This is where the tech goodies come into play.)

I took the Equinox out for a leisurely cruise along Deer Creek Canyon just outside Denver, and it was a blast to maneuver the twisty roads. The engineers at Chevy have created a vehicle that’s technically a family truckster but has a playful side, too.

The Tech

The touchscreen on the Equinox is solid (there are 7-inch and 8-inch options). It’s also simple and intuitive, which brings cheers from everyone.

I might question a bit of its placement, which seems just a tad awkward. I’m guessing that the next generation will tweak the angle of the screen just a bit.

You get plenty of USB ports both front and back, as well as a 120-volt outlet. The Equinox also offers a wireless charging pad.

Connectivity is very good, with Chevy’s 4G LTE wifi hotspot system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, too, if you must have them. And I MUST have them these days.

The standard features of each Equinox are good, but various packages will open things up a bit. My Premier came with the Confidence & Convenience II package (which just sounds funny to me). That added a variety of seat adjustment options, along with ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, and a basket full of other safety features. The HD surround vision is terrific.

The Bottom Line

I suppose some of those pro drivers are paid to be ultra-critical at times, but count me among the legion of Equinox drivers who find it to be a fun, somewhat-sporty little crossover/SUV.

The price range can be extreme, thanks to the big differences between the trim and engine choices. You’re looking at anywhere from the low 20s to the mid-to-upper 30s.

Mileage is respectable, and cargo-carrying abilities are about average.

Because of its fun ride and the myriad tech choices, the Equinox is a solid choice for families looking for a smaller-to-midsize SUV.

The Details

2019 Chevrolet Equinox Premier
2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder
9-speed automatic transmission
All-wheel-drive (front-wheel drive available)
Fuel economy: 22/28/24 combined
MSRP: $35, 600
As tested: $37,745

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer


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