2022 Chevy Equinox RS Mixes Cayenne Pepper With Vanilla Frosting

The 2022 Chevrolet Equinox is one of the best-selling crossovers in America, but it’s not terribly exciting. It could use a bit of a makeover to attract younger and more affluent buyers. So, designers went to work to imbue a bit more attitude, adding cayenne pepper to the compact Chevy’s vanilla frosting. The result is the Equinox RS.

Coming off of a refresh that saw all Equinox models receive revised front and rear lighting, the RS looks like an athlete ready for a good run. Sporty RS editions receive black chrome grille trim, dark window outlines, black logos, and 19” Dark Android alloy wheels. A brooding sinister aesthetic is the key, even when painted pearl white.

The RS reserves its best for the interior where it’s dressed up with black-and-red-stitched leather seats that are heated up front and face a heated red-stitched steering wheel. There’s no fancy twin-panel sunroof, but passengers do enjoy Bose audio, dual-zone automatic climate control, and easy device connections through 4G Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Chevrolet’s touchscreens are easy to understand, but should come with a proper tuning knob. Click-clicking through stations with buttons is a bit much.

My parents owned two of the previous generation Equinox, which splits the difference in size between the current model and larger Blazer. Unlike in my parents’ version, three-across seating is a little tight in the rear, but legroom and luggage space are plentiful. Split-fold rear seats let longer items slide right in. There’s always the roof if that’s not enough space.

On paper, the RS’ 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine seems unimpressive with its 170 horsepower and 203 lb.-ft. of torque, but when connected to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive, it’s plenty capable. Towing only rates 1,500 lbs., not enough to pull campers or boats of any real size, but fuel economy rates a relatively frugal 25/30-MPG city/highway.

There’s a difference between being fast and being quick. Quick cars rip off 0-60 mph at a pace that crimps neck muscles, but fast cars can maintain high speed with reserved composure. The Equinox RS is not a quick car, but it is fast, able to ride a wave of turbo torque into the left lane, click down a cog or two, and stream on down the road. The four-wheel independent suspension, quick steering, and narrow track make the Equinox feel much smaller and sportier than it actually is while rumbling over rough pavement with nary a squeak, creak, nor rattle.

Beyond competent handling, there’s plenty of technology to protect everybody. Adaptive cruise keeps a safe distance on the highway while automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and blind zone warning work whenever. No matter the conditions, the Equinox feels solid and robust – ready to take a crunching if necessary.

Nobody will confuse the Equinox RS with a sport wagon, but it adds enough spice to attract a younger and more open-minded set. And, that’s exactly the point. Even better, it’s pretty affordable. A base Equinox costs $25,800, but our well-optioned RS rose to $37,015. With that, competitors include the Ford Escape Titanium, Subaru Forester Sport, Hyundai Tucson N Line, and Honda CR-V Touring.

Storm Forward!

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2022 Chevy Equinox RS

Five-passenger, AWD Crossover

Powertrain: 1.5-liter T4, 6-spd trans

Output: 170hp/203 lb.-ft. torque

Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind

Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy

Brakes f/r: disc/disc

Must-have features: Style, Turbo

Fuel economy: 25/30 mpg city/hwy

Assembly: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico

Base/As-tested price: $25,800/$37,015