Do you ever think about your microwave? You use it every day, you probably didn’t read the instruction manual to figure out how it works, and you can use anyone else’s microwave without thinking twice. That’s the 2023 Chevrolet Equinox 1.5T Premier in a nutshell. It’s a compact crossover that you and just about everyone can get in and drive, and it just so happens to be about as exciting as a microwave.
You might think I’m putting the Equinox on blast by comparing it to a boring appliance, but I’m not. The Equinox, much like many GM products, is rather familiar, with no particular gimmicks to speak of. I could hand the keys over to my elderly father and he’d figure out how to use it. There are no rotary shifters or overly complicated touchscreens; no weird haptic touch controls or basic settings buried deep within menus. Much like the humble microwave, the Equinox is universal in its usability.
It does look a little nondescript and bland, almost rental car-like especially finished in white. The Equinox’s dimensions are exactly what you’d expect from a compact crossover, it doesn’t wear any jagged character lines, the tail lights are basic, but the headlights do have some character and offer a bit of pizazz in the way they integrate with the large chrome grille up front. The 20-inch wheels on the Premier trim look decent, and I kind of like the Equinox badging on the front doors. All in all, I think Chevy got the design right for their target market — people looking for a comfortable mode of transportation from point A to B. If you want to fly under the radar, the Equinox will help you do that.
The Equinox’s interior follows the same familiar, nondescript appliance theme. Our Premier tester was clad in black leather with some orange contrasting stitching, which was a nice subtle way to break up the sea of black. The gauge cluster is mainly analog; I generally prefer this, and they’re certainly easy to read like your microwave’s clock, but the dials felt far too basic for my liking. The steering wheel is familiar, likely because it’s shared among other GM products.
The eight-inch infotainment display seems pulled right out of the Cadillac XT5; I’m not sure if that’s a knock against the Caddy or a compliment towards Chevy, but the user interface is clean, familiar, gimmick-free, and among the easiest to use out there. Kudos to Chevrolet for keeping physical buttons and switchgear for the steering wheel and climate controls, which again, were very easy to use. The seats were adequately comfortable up front and out back. Cargo space measures in at 846 litres with the rear seats up and 1,809 when folded — solid numbers for the segment.
The Premier trim gets a host of safety features and driver assists, including lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control, but I was disappointed with the latter. It was jerky and reacted far too late, often slamming on the brakes and giving passengers — and admittedly myself — a few nervous moments. As with the XT5, I didn’t expect to like the vibration feedback provided to the driver’s seat. Whenever the parking sensors or lane-departure warning would go off, it notified you — or more specifically, your derriere — by vibrating the corresponding side of the seat bottom. It’s a clever feature that didn’t feel intrusive.
The Equinox Premier’s powertrain is mostly adequate. Powered by a surprisingly small but efficient 1.5L turbo-four, it puts out 175 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. It lags behind most competitors, like the Honda CR-V‘s 190 hp or even the Jeep Compass‘ 200, but the Equinox felt fine in day to day driving, and considering how most people use their Equnioxes, most probably won’t care. Still, the engine goes about its business quietly and smoother than you’d expect from such a little powerplant. The six speed automatic is less of an overachiever, sometimes being slow to react to your request for power, and then abruptly kicking down a gear or two. Fuel economy is solid, with this 3,600-plus-pound, all-wheel-drive model averaging 9.3 L/100 km in two-wheel-drive mode.
You’ll hardly ever regret which microwave you purchase, and the same goes for the 2023 Chevrolet Equinox 1.5T Premier. It’s a roomy, efficient, intuitive, and nondescript $38,679 appliance that does its job quite well.