‘Detroit, We Don’t Have a Problem’: the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV

If you want more people to drive EVs, given that those who are on the leading edge are already taken, creating something that is more down-to-earth is a clever strategy.

Gary S. Vasilash

June 3, 2024

5 Min Read
Equinox EV’s futuristic styling, array of tech still provide comfortable familiarity.

DETROIT – Scott Bell, vice president of Global Chevrolet, says one of the important slogans that defines how the mainstream brand is positioning its electric-vehicle products for greater market acceptance is: “Owning an EV shouldn’t feel like colonizing Mars.”

If there is any company that could build EVs that have an extraterrestrial character it is General Motors: It built the lunar rovers that the Apollo astronauts used to find new roads on the moon.

But Bell is not suggesting the EVs Chevy is rolling out right now – the Blazer EV, Silverado EV RST and Equinox EV – have low technological content. Quite the contrary.

The point is that this is tech that benefits the user experience, whether the user is an EV maven or someone who has never been behind the wheel.

The Equinox EV is a prime example. Bell tells WardsAuto, “The functionality inside them is not to figure out. It is a very usable vehicle.”

Achieving Bandwidth

And as fitting within the compact SUV space – a hugely important segment for Chevy (in 2023 Chevy delivered more Equinoxes than any other model that isn’t a Silverado, 212,701 vehicles) – the Equinox EV had to be developed to appeal to a large bandwidth. To that end, the chief engineer for the Equinox EV, Mark Allen, was previously the chief engineer for the ICE version of the vehicle.

But, Allen stresses, the Equinox EV is a purpose-built, bespoke platform, not an ICE Equinox with component swaps: “You put the battery where you want it, not where it fits. When you take an existing architecture and turn it into an EV you put things where they shouldn’t be and have problems you shouldn’t have.”

In fact, according to Allen, that using the Ultium component set – the Ultium lithium-ion NMC battery modules (the Equinox uses 10 modules for an 85-kWh pack) and Ultium motors (a 213-hp permanent-magnet motor for the front axle and a 75-hp induction motor in the rear for vehicles with eAWD, for a total 288 hp output) – helped the development of the vehicle.

Dialed-In

Notably, these modules and motors are used for the other EVs in the Chevy lineup.

Allen says he had the opportunity to take the first Equinox EV ever built out on the track at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, MI, two days after it had been built and, in his assessment, due to the engineering talent, simulation capabilities and common components, the vehicle was 95% of where it needed to be “before we tuned the first shock.”

Realize that this is a brand-new architecture, a proverbial clean-sheet design. And they nailed it.

Dollars and Sense

Before looking at some of the features and technologies of the Equinox EV it is important to keep one thing in mind: When you’re putting vehicles on the road that are meant to appeal to customers who may be interested in an EV that is going to get them excellent range (up to 319 miles (514 km) on a full charge for FWD models and 285 miles (459 km) for eAWD – “People can treat it like a tank of gas,” Allen says, explaining that they need not worry about constantly being on the lookout for a charger and highly competitive charging capacity (on a public DC fast charger, it charges at up to 150 kW, which translates into some 77 miles (124 km) of range in 10 minutes), people have to be able to afford them.

As is typical with most EV intros, Chevy is rolling out the higher trim levels first, then it will bring the base version to market in some months’ time. Currently you can get an Equinox EV with an MSRP of $43,295. When the base Equinox EV LT is available for ordering later this year, it will have a starting MSRP of $34,995. Those are down-to-earth numbers.

The Unexpected

Here’s something you won’t expect seeing in an entry-level model, no matter what it is powered by: a 17.7-in. (45-cm) diagonal touchscreen with Google Built-in (i.e., Maps, Assistant, Play Store). This is another place where Chevy is using a common approach: Whether it is this base 1LT trim or higher trim levels (there are the more-sedate-looking LT models going up to 3LT and the sportier RS trims, 2RS and 3RS), all have the same interface.

Of course, the 1LT will have 19-in. aluminum wheels and manually adjusted seats while the 3LT will offer 21s and an 8-way powered and heated/ventilated driver’s seat.

And Chevy is offering a solid suite of safety technologies across the board, underscoring the fact that Bell and his colleagues recognize this is a family vehicle.

Although familiarity is a key attribute for the Equinox EV, there is one thing that requires a bit of getting used to: the starting procedure.

Chevy Equinox EV cabin.jpg

When you get behind the wheel of the vehicle, you simply put your foot on the brake, select the gear and go. When you are done driving, you reverse the procedure. There is nothing to turn or push.

But as for the driving experience itself, like all EVs there is the “instant torque” that moves the vehicle with comparative alacrity. The FWD version has 236 lb.-ft. (320 Nm) of torque and it is 333 lb.-ft. (451 Nm) for the eAWD vehicle. This is not the stuff of your head snapping back like an astronaut in a centrifuge, but it is something that makes you need to keep an eye on the speedo in the 11-in. (28-cm) driver information center because it readily builds speed. (Adaptive cruise control and Super Cruise are available, which could mitigate unintended speeding.)

Overall, whether it is loading in people (it seats five) or stuff (there is 57.2 cu.-ft. [1,620 L] of storage behind the first row; 26.4 cu.-ft. [748 L] behind the second), the Equinox EV performs like, well, an Equinox.

Mission accomplished.

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like