Chevy Equinox EV first drive: GM may have cracked the code in delivering a quality SUV that’s affordable [Video]

Chevy Equinox EV first drive: GM may have cracked the code in delivering a quality SUV that’s affordable [Video]

Chevy is finally beginning sales of its long-anticipated Equinox EV, but before then, I got an invite to Detroit to test it out for myself. I was admittedly skeptical of this EV, but once I got behind the wheel, I realized that the new Equinox is a well-built model with plenty of features and enticing pricing to boot. Be sure to check out my driving impressions in the full video below.

The Chevy Equinox EV has been a long time coming

As always, I like to start with a bit of a refresher course on how we got to today, with the Chevy Equinox EV on the cusp of reaching its first customers in the US. Chevy has been teasing an all-electric Equinox since early 2022 when it unveiled plans for the model and promised to deliver it at a starting price of $30,000—sorry, “around $30,000.”

Even at around $30k, that’s a game-changing price for a crossover EV, and GM stuck to that price point over the next two years as we learned more about the Equinox, including pictures of its two-toned exterior. However, we were still left guessing on vital metrics like range, battery size, and, of course, verified pricing.

As the official launch approached, we learned that the Equinox EV would begin production in 2024, and Chevy has a lot riding on its success. By February of this year, we learned that “priced around $30,000” actually means “$35,000,” which is higher than expected but still affordable. Plus, the Equinox offers 319 miles of range.

Chevy even started pulling demand levers before Equinox EV deliveries, offering Bolt owners $3,000 off to make the switch. The American automaker has publicly stated hopes for this new all-electric model to help it win back some of its market share, and after driving the crossover SUV, I think that may happen. Here are my thoughts.

Performance specs of the FWD 3LT Chevy Equinox EV

For this drive event, the media traveled to the Motor City, home of GM and Chevy, where we all got to test out various FWD versions of the Equinox EV. My driving partner (shout out to Jared) got downstairs early and snagged us the only two-toned version, which happened to be the 3LT trim—the second-highest tier below the top-level 3RS.

The Equinox comes equipped with with 19- or 21-inch aluminum wheels and all-season self-sealing tires spun by a single front-wheel-drive motor. GM estimates that the FWD versions of the Equinox EV will deliver 319 miles of range on a single charge. For comparison, the eAWD trims offer an estimated 285 miles of range.

The 3LT delivers 213 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds, while the eAWD trims are slightly more powerful thanks to a smaller air-cooled induction motor in the rear. Those models offer 288 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque, hitting 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds.

Those are not crazy impressive acceleration times, but the Chevy team told us that through its research, it has determined that would-be customers in the crossover BEV segment aren’t looking for blistering speed. What the BEV lacks in giddy-up, it makes up for in range, cargo, and smoothness.

Lastly, all trims of the Equinox EV have DC fast charging capabilities up to 150 kW, garnering a GM estimated 77 miles during a 10-minute session. Level 2 rates peak at 11.5 kW, replenishing an estimated 34 miles of range every hour. Before we get to my driving impressions and video review, let’s look at the Chevy Equinox EV inside and out.

An “athletic” exterior matched by a simple, clean interior

At first glance at the Equinox’s exterior, it appears sleek and aerodynamic, without sacrificing too much of its side profile to the point that it looks like a top-heavy sedan. The headlamps across the entire front and thin and sleek, and the air flaps tie everything together nicely as you move around to the side and really notice the two-toned paint job.

I’m usually not a fan of chrome, but Chevy’s subtle use of it along the wheelbase and windows really works in my opinion. Having the “riptide metallic blue” was awesome to shoot in the sun and in overcast skies, but the color closely matched the Equinox badge on the rear, so my driving partner and I, as well as passersby, joked about the SUV being called the “Quinox” (see for yourself above).

The trunk had plenty of cargo storage and a little extra tub below the carpet that looked like it could double as a cooler. I liked that you could pull a lever to have the seats drop from the trunk rather than walking around to the back seats and doing it yourself. This crossover offers 57.2 cubic feet (1,614 liters) of max cargo room with the rear seat and was surprisingly roomy.

Moving into the cabin, the Equinox EV’s dash and steering wheel are familiar if you’ve driven other Chevy models (or the Honda Prologue or Acura ZDX). The leather is a nice touch that adds to the feel of quality, but there is admittedly nothing extra special about the cockpit. That being said, it is more than adequate and by no means appears cheap or plasticky.

The blue brushed aluminum accents are just subtle enough not to overpower the look and feel of the front seat, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it. To me, it looks like metal that still has a protective film on it. I kept wanting to peel it off and post it to r/OddlySatisfying.

My 3LT came with heated seats but no A/C. This is a potential deal breaker for me personally, but I’m sure most people won’t care. Still, the seats are very comfortable.

The rear is clean but admittedly simple. There is not much to talk about here. There is more leather on the seats and a couple of USB-C ports on the back of the center console, but no HVAC controls. I had plenty of legroom when I was back there, snapping the pics you’ll see below.

The dash features two displays: an 11” driver display and a 17.7” center screen on which you can control virtually everything, including customized ambient cabin lighting. Since we drove during the day, I wasn’t able to experience the full effect, but it’s a nice touch for fun on the road at night.

You can also control the Equinox’s four drive modes from the center screen, which I’ll discuss in my impressions of this Chevy EV on the road.

Driving impressions: SuperCruise does it again

The Chevy Equinox EV has four drive modes: Normal, Snow/Ice, a customizable “My Mode,” and Sport Mode, which I used most of the time. Because it has a single FWD motor, you don’t feel much difference in the ride.

The navigation system was fine, but I admittedly always miss Apple Carplay when I don’t have it. It’s easier. Many times throughout the drive, my partner and I (half) jokingly yelled, “Bring back CarPlay… and bring back the Bolt ASAP, dammit!”

As I experienced in my recent Silverado EV drive and any other Ultium vehicle I’ve driven, SuperCruise shined. The hands-free ADAS is easy to use and makes long highway trips much more enjoyable. It also allowed me to quickly snap photos of my journey, like the one below.

I found the Equinox didn’t try to switch lanes as often as the Silverado EV, but that could have just been the route I was on. Still, I can’t say enough good things about this technology—it feels so much more useful and realistic at this point than full self-driving.

Overall, the cabin experience was quiet and smooth. Road and wind noise were minimal, and bumps were well alleviated by the SUV’s suspension. This made for an enjoyable experience on the highway, in a neighborhood, or on a service road.

  • Chevy Equinox EV

Chevy Equinox EV pricing, availability, and our video review

Overall, the Chevy Equinox EV has the makings to be a bonafide winner in the crossover segment and the BEV market overall. It doesn’t necessarily blow you away with its bells and whistles in the interior, but it is more than adequate. It does not appear as quickly developed and assembled as it was (Chevy said this was the fastest BEV brought to market aside from the Hummer).

The ride is smooth and relatively quiet, and the estimated 319-mile range (if confirmed by the EPA) will be a huge selling point for consumers who still don’t understand that they don’t need more than 300 miles of range most days.

While Chevy came in a little higher on starting MSRP than initially teased, $35k for a crossover of this level is an absolute steal, and I think many potential consumers will bite. The 3LT FWD trim I drove starts at an MSRP of $45,295 before taxes and destination fees. Add the full $7,500 federal tax credit potential, and you’re looking at a solid BEV for under $40k, which is a significantly better range than its competitors.

The Chevy Equinox EV is now available to configure and order in both FWD and eAWD versions, including the 2LT, 3LT, 2RS, and 3RS. According to Chevy, the $35,000 base-level LT is expected to hit the market later this year and should still deliver 319 miles of the estimated range. It will be interesting to see how those features and specs compare to the current options, and I trust that we will report back on that and hopefully get behind the wheel of one soon.

In the meantime, you can check out my full video review of my drive in the Chevy Equinox 3LT EV below:

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