America’s Favorite Chevy SUV Is Surprisingly Not the 1 That Owners Like Best
The Equinox is by far the most popular Chevy SUV. Its affordable price, excellent fuel economy, and plentiful features make it a superb compact crossover. Chevy Equinox sales have been so strong that it tops the U.S. charts for compact SUVs. But a recent study shows the Equinox ranks lower in owner satisfaction than three other Chevy SUVs: the Trailblazer, Tahoe, and Suburban. Here’s how the Chevy Equinox stacks up against its stablemates.
Equinox sales outpace other Chevy SUVs by a landslide
The Equinox has been a mainstay in the compact SUV class for years. Since its 2004 debut, it’s been one of Chevrolet’s most popular models and remains a top seller.
Recent sales figures show the Equinox is the best-selling Chevy SUV, with 52,949 units delivered in Q2 2023. It’s the second best-selling Chevrolet model after the Silverado pickup truck. That’s despite a 6% drop in Equinox sales from Q2 2022. However, it’s still nearly double the number of Trailblazer (33,857) and Tahoe (29,257) SUVs and more than three times the number of Suburban (16,661) models sold, GoodCarBadCar sales data shows.
But what’s interesting about the Equinox is that owners aren’t necessarily thrilled with it despite its popularity. The best-selling Chevy SUV is noticeably absent from the list of winners in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study.
The discrepancy is even more noteworthy when considering the Trailblazer, Tahoe, and Suburban ranked highly in their respective segments. However, the 2023 U.S. APEAL Study’s methodology could explain the Equinox’s snub.
Why do owners rate 3 other Chevy SUVs higher than the Equinox?
J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. APEAL Study surveyed 84,555 owners of new model-year vehicles who had used their cars for 90 days. Considering the responses from February through May 2023, based on vehicles registered between November 2022 and February 2023, the study based its results on 10 factors, nine of which experienced a decline in owner satisfaction year-over-year.
The only factor to show an improvement was fuel economy (771), 15 points higher than in 2022. However, the most significant drop year-over-year was for exterior styling, falling from 894 in 2020 to 888 in 2021.
According to Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, among the reasons for the overall decline in owner satisfaction is that despite technological and design innovations, owners are less than thrilled with their new vehicles.
For instance, owners gave the 2023 Chevrolet Equinox lower scores for steering/handling in slippery conditions, interior styling, and feeling that the vehicle would protect them in an accident.
However, the 2023 Equinox earned a “great” J.D. Power Quality & Reliability rating of 90/100, signifying fewer problems than average with the entire vehicle, from the engine to the infotainment system. The Equinox’s driving experience rating was an “average” 80/100, based on owners’ evaluation of the vehicle’s design, performance, comfort, functionality, safety, and technology.
It would be surprising, then, to learn that the 2023 Equinox doesn’t appear among the highest-rated vehicles on this year’s J.D. Power APEAL Awards list. That’s despite ranking second, with an overall score of 85, among J.D. Power’s best compact SUVs for 2023, just behind the Buick Envision (86).
Conversely, the Trailblazer is among the highest-rated small SUVs in this year’s J.D. Power U.S. APEAL Study, tying with the Ford Bronco Sport and second to the Mini Countryman in owner satisfaction. Similarly, the Tahoe and Suburban are runners-up in the large SUV category behind the Toyota Sequoia.
Overview of the 2023 Chevy Equinox: Price, specs, and features
Despite not earning praise in the annual APEAL Study, the 2023 Chevy Equinox has many standard features that make it an attractive compact SUV.
The 2023 Equinox offers four trim levels — LS, LT, RS, and Premier — with the base model starting at $26,600. It has a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. All models have a six-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is available as an option. Its fuel-efficient powertrain achieves an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Adding to its appeal, the Equinox boasts a deep layer of advanced driver-assistance systems. They include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warning.
Overall highlights include:
- Comfort and convenience features such as a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system (8.0-inch in the Premier trim), Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, driver’s seat memory settings, and a hands-free power liftgate.
- Safety features like forward collision warning, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning.
- Driver convenience features such as keyless entry/start, remote start, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a heated steering wheel.
The 2023 Chevy Equinox doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of some higher-end vehicles in its class, but it still provide plenty to make it an excellent small SUV.