The 2023 Chevy Equinox is a compact SUV positioned between the Trailblazer and the Blazer in Chevy’s current lineup. It debuted in 2005 and has done nothing but improve during its three-generation tenure. Today, it strikes a specific balance that gives it mass appeal, managing to be spacious, efficient, and affordable all in one stroke. So, how did we get here? The Equinox followed the same arc that so many greats do on their path to stardom: a big splash launches them onto the scene, followed by awkward grabs at relevancy, and finally, a period of reflection that leads to a comeback where they’re truly in their element. Generational overhauls and year-to-year tweaks have transformed the Equinox from a promising newcomer to a reliable wonder, a capable daily driver that now sits comfortably in its groove and exudes quiet confidence in a tremendously crowded segment.
First Generation (2005 – 2009)
The Equinox’s big splash came in 2005. It debuted alongside its GM twin, the Pontiac Torrent. Today, it’s a little hard to believe that a restyled Pontiac was capable of greatness, but put yourself in the mindset of 2005. GM had not yet euthanized the brand, and if you squinted hard enough, Pontiac’s golden years were somewhat visible in the rearview mirror. Plus, they were still riding off of the success of the 2001 Pontiac Firebird. Anyways, the Equinox made a good first impression. It was big and quite stylish, especially after a minor redesign that came with the second model year. The SUV was available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive, offering a comfortable, car-like driving experience thanks to its unibody construction.
From there, the Equinox picked up more trims and specializations. A sporty SS trim offered in 2008 and 2009 had a 3.6-liter V6 capable of 264 hp. It had a suspension tuned especially for speed and a lower ride height than other Equinox models. Also, in 2008, a premium LTZ version was introduced. It had lots of chrome and luxury accents, like heated seats, a six-disc CD player, and extra airbags (remember, it was the early 2000s). The same year, Chevy released a special Team Canada edition of the Equinox because who didn’t want to memorialize the 2010 Winter Olympics via their car? It had a sunroof, chrome accents, a premium sound system, and special badging.
Second Generation (2010 – 2017)
With the debut of the second generation Equinox in 2010, we start to see more of the styling found in the modern Equinox. This new version’s styling had more grace than the outgoing model, with a more streamlined body shape and new headlights. It had a pair of engine options; the standard powertrain consisted of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that generated 182 hp and got 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway, which were very good specs for an SUV at the time.
The other engine was a 3.0-liter V6 capable of 264 hp. Both powertrains came in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. In 2013, the V6 was upgraded to a 3.6L, outputting 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. Over the next few years, GM made other small changes to the Equinox. Adding some techy gadget here, a little extra chrome there, until 2016, when the SUV underwent a significant makeover mid-cycle. It was refreshed inside and out, with a new front fascia, taillights, extra storage spaces, and new controls in the interior. A new trim level, dubbed the L, was introduced as the new base option.
Late into the first generation and the start of the second generation aligned with a challenging time for the car industry. An oil crisis paired with the Great Recession had automakers scrambling to find a solution. Cue the fuel cell and natural gas variants of the Equinox. The former debuted during the first generation and was never sold to the public. It ran on hydrogen, and its only emission was water, but these vehicles were only expected to last for 50,000 miles.
Another interesting variant was powered by natural gas. Developed by AGA Systems and Nat G CNG Solutions, this bi-fuel system could be installed in 2013 or 2014 Equinox models and enabled the crossover to run on a mixture of gasoline and natural gas. When equipped, it could get up to 31 MPG on the highway and travel 775 miles on a single tank. Neither of these models took off, but they set a precedent of seeking solutions through innovation, a mindset that would soon pay off.
Third Generation (2018 – Present)
The year 2018 kicked off the next generation for the Equinox, which features the current 2023 lineup. With this new version, we saw the smooth styling that feels modern to this day, as well as new powertrain options and a tech-rich interior. For the first time, the Equinox was offered with a diesel engine. The 1.6-liter turbodiesel didn’t last for long, though, getting dropped starting with the 2020 model year. That same year, several driver assistance features became standard on the Equinox, like emergency braking, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams. A blacked-out Midnight Edition became available in 2020, too, adding a sharp, darkened design to the vehicle.
In 2022, the Equinox got fresh styling, Its headlights are now more hawkish, and its bumpers and grille were redesigned. With its makeover, the Equinox is more aggressive, helping it fit right in with the other vehicles in Chevy’s lineup. Also, in 2022, we saw the addition of the RS trim, which adds handsome, sporty accents throughout. This year, the turbocharged 2.0-liter was dropped, making a 170-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder the singular option.
And that brings us to the modern Equinox. Still in the thick of its third generation, this year’s model doesn’t bring a ton of change, but there were some upgrades to make it a more appealing buy. For starters, the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder got slightly more powerful, picking up five ponies for a 175 hp power output, along with 203 lb-ft of torque. It also receives an upgraded electro-hydraulic braking system, dubbed “E-Boost” by GM, the same technology used in their trailering vehicles and high-performers like the Corvette. The 2023 Equinox keeps up appearances with three new paint color options: Harvest Bronze Metallic, Sterling Grey Metallic, and Radiant Red Tintcoat. Also, the blacked-out Midnight and zesty Sport editions are now available with the base trim.
A Rising Star That Continues to Rise
Chevy’s lineup is brimming with SUVs, but they manage to create a whole team of standouts despite that fact. The 2023 Chevy Equinox is one of those standouts. It’s capable, stylish, and dripping in modern auto tech. It’s not easy to keep your head above water in the current, extremely competitive SUV market, but the 2023 Chevy Equinox has perfected its backstroke and finds success almost effortlessly. It’s come a long way since its debut in 2005, improving in response to customer preferences. Chevy proves they have their finger on the pulse of market trends with the implementation of new EVs, including an electric version of our very own Equinox. If history is any indication, we can count on this SUV not just keeping up with, but leading the pack for generations to come.