As far as subcompact hatchbacks go, Chevy’s Bolt is la crème de la crème. Some time ago I might have said something similar about Ford’s Fiesta ST when referring to straight-line performance and…

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier Road Test

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Now in its fifth year of availability, albeit not without updates, the Bolt EV still looks fresh for its subcompact class.

As far as subcompact hatchbacks go, Chevy’s Bolt is la crème de la crème. Some time ago I might have said something similar about Ford’s Fiesta ST when referring to straight-line performance and handling, or Honda’s Fit as far as cargo carrying capability, but those two, like so many others in this class, are gone, leaving a shrinking subcompact market segment that’s now a mere shadow of what it once was only a few short years ago.

Fortunately, the current 2021 Bolt includes a few crossover-like styling cues, such as roof rails plus some thick black cladding around its wheel cutouts and rocker panels, as well as an ever-so-slightly raised stance, so it kind of qualifies for subcompact SUV status. Either way, the tiny rocket would probably beat the aforementioned Fiesta ST off the line, let alone a Mini Cooper JCW, while the impressive load of features in my top-level Premier model comes close to promoting it to premium status.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt features a long wheelbase that improves legroom as well as high-speed stability and ride comfort.

By all accounts it’s a rather unassuming looking hatchback, not unlike the Spark and Sonic that came before. It’s sized more like the latter car, but provides a sleeker, more windswept look than the now discontinued Chevy subcompact, and certainly more road presence than the tiny little Spark, which has now taken over the mantle of Canada’s most affordable new car from Nissan’s cancelled Micra and Mitsubishi’s slightly pricier Mirage.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt gets plenty of crossover SUV-like styling details, such as roof rails, black lower body cladding, and Chevy’s floating rear roof pillar design.

Having only arrived in 2017, the Bolt has quickly taken over sales chart superiority in the subcompact segment, with last year’s 4,026 Canadian deliveries clearly outpacing the category’s second-best-selling Kia Rio that only managed to find 3,868 buyers, a far cry from the 15,601 new owners it earned in 2013, a year that saw Hyundai’s Accent in first with 18,884 sales. Interestingly, 2013 wasn’t even the Accent’s most successful year, with 2008 notching up 29,751 unit-sales, this being the highest number of sales that a vehicle in this class has ever managed over a calendar year in Canada. The entire segment didn’t even break 16,000 deliveries in 2020, incidentally, and if it wasn’t for the Bolt, it probably wouldn’t have come close to that number. Looking back now, it’s bizarre to fathom that Canada’s subcompact category almost hit 100,000 units in 2014.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt’s standard auto on/off HID headlamps can be had with available automatic high-beams.

Of course, the Bolt has about as much in common with today’s Kia Rio or Nissan Versa (the only two mainstream volume-branded subcompact models left) as a BMW 3 Series. Sure, it might be sized like the little Korean and Japanese models, but it’s plug-in battery-powered and therefore priced more like the Bavarian luxury sedan. In fact, you can buy the Bimmer for $48 less (not factoring in dealer discounts or government subsidies); the 330e plug-in hybrid starting at $44,950, compared to the base Bolt LT’s starting price of $44,998.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Sporty machine-finished 17-inch alloy wheels with painted pockets come standard across the line.

My Bolt Premier tester will set you back $50,298, including its vibrant Oasis Blue paint, this standout hue of blue being one of two standard colours including Summit White, while Silver Ice Metallic (exclusive to this trim), Nightfall Grey Metallic, Mosaic Black Metallic, Kinetic Blue Metallic, Cayenne Orange Metallic, and Slate Grey Metallic cost $495 extra, and Cajun Red Tintcoat is slightly more at $595.

You’ll need to pay $750 more for a Driver Confidence II package if you want to get following distance indicator, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking with front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and IntelliBeam automatic high beams, items normally standard in this price range, thus pushing the base price up over $51,000, while Chevy also offers a 120-volt charging cord for $850, plus aluminum sill plates for $155, a number of carpeted and all-weather floor and cargo mats, an interior protection package, a cargo net, and the list goes on.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt’s charging port is up front next to the driver’s door where it’s easy to access.

Notably, Chevy is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives, while the average discount achieved by CarCostCanada members is $2,125, thanks to their ability to access dealer invoice pricing before negotiations. Find out how an affordable CarCostCanada membership can help you save thousands too, plus remember to download their free smartphone app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Standard LED taillights make a nice visual statement at night.

While the price of entry is staggeringly high for the Bolt’s subcompact class, its base sticker costing more than twice as much as the most expensive 2021 Kia Rio 5-Door EX Premium, keep in mind that base models qualify for the federal government’s $5,000 rebate, while BC offers another $5,000 rebate (my total rebate was shown as $8,000 after configuring) and residents of Quebec a maximum of $8,000 (check with each jurisdiction for eligibility), so other than the fact that these incentives are paid by regular Canadian taxpayers (many of which are poor folk barely managing to keep making payments on their Sparks, Micras and Mirages, let alone bus passes), it can significantly reduce the cost of EV ownership.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt Premier’s interior is nicely designed with impressive digital displays, but it’s materials quality can’t measure up to conventionally-powered cars costing tens of thousands less.

The totally redesigned 2022 Bolt starts at just $38,198, by the way, or $40,198 for the slightly larger Bolt EUV (see my full news coverage here), so even well-optioned variants should slide under the government’s $45,000 maximum for rebate qualification.

With or without the just-noted extras, the Bolt Premier’s cabin is very inviting, with a lot of light and medium grey colour tones combined with orange stitching on the perforated two-tone leather seats. It’s a sporty look that nicely matches the little electric car’s spunky character.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The driver’s position is excellent, and dash layout a real treat for digital savvy drivers.

Most eye-catching is the digital gauge cluster and large infotainment touchscreen, the former bright, colourful and filled mostly with primary driving information, albeit featuring a useful multi-information display at centre. The main touchscreen on the centre stack was bright and colourful too, plus extremely well-organized with most of the features new car buyers expect these days, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as all the usual audio features like SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming. Redundant controls are included for the single-zone auto climate system too, plus in-depth pages for powertrain efficiencies.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The Bolt’s fully-digital gauge cluster is stunning and highly utile.

Considering the lofty price, I found it odd that no navigation system was included, especially now that some electric cars provide sophisticated navigation equipment that effectively maps out range and finds the nearest public charging location. Of course, you’ll be able to use your smartphone’s navigation via the aforementioned Google and Apple apps for directions, even if these don’t include the types of EV-specific functions $50k should provide. Fortunately, the just-noted audio system is a good enough distraction to lessen any range anxiety that might develop by not knowing where to hook up, while the moving guideline-enhanced backup camera with its separate overhead view will make slotting into the EV charger’s parking spot a near effortless experience when you’ve finally located one.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The centre stack is well laid out and easy to use.

Charging is almost a non-issue, by the way, thanks to so much range that you might find yourself blasting up and down the highway just to see if you can drain it, like I did for part of my test. In fact, I drove it most of the week without the need to charge, but take note that larger batteries need longer to top up. Chevy claims about 40 km of range per hour of charging on a 240-volt system, which you can purchase for your home or find elsewhere in shopping mall parking lots, public building parking, or private charging resellers like ChargePoint or Flo, while a public-access DC fast charger only needs 30 minutes on the plug to generate up to 145 km of range.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The large centre display is filled with useful features.

Max range on a full charge is 417 km, although this is an estimate that depends on plenty of factors, from the load you’re carrying (including bodies and cargo), exterior temperature (colder weather means less range), driving style (if you’re stomping on the throttle all the time, or putting on a lot of highway miles, you’ll dramatically reduce distance to empty), plus more.

Yes, the “tiny rocket” descriptor I used at the beginning of this review says it all, the Bolt lives up to its name and then some. Jabbing right foot to the floor results in seriously neck-snapping straight-line acceleration, the direct result of all the big battery’s 66-kWh capacity and the immediacy of an electric motor’s power delivery, especially one putting out 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. With Sport mode engaged (which really does make a difference), it’s 0.2 seconds quicker off the line than the long-gone Fiesta ST, by the way, the Bolt launching from standstill to 100 km/h in just 6.5 seconds, but its 1,616-kilo (3,563-lb) curb weight is just too much to make it as agile through the corners as the 1,234 kg (2,721 lb) blue-oval hatchback.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The split-screen parking monitor, complete with an overhead bird’s-eye view, makes parking ultra-easy.

It holds its own nonetheless, and provides a more comfortable ride, which no doubt matters more to the majority of EV buyers. On that note, I left it in one-pedal mode most of the time, what you get by pulling the gear lever rearward to its L position. This allows you to drive by just using the throttle; what might otherwise be called the gas pedal in a conventional vehicle, or we could call it the go-pedal if you prefer. So set, braking is mostly automatic via electric motor drag when lifting the right foot. It’s an incredibly smooth operator, much better, in fact, than any previous system like this I’ve used. Normally there’s too much braking power, causing everyone’s heads to bob back and forth uncomfortably when pressing and lifting off the go-pedal, but the Bolt was really smooth and easy to modulate.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Simply pull the electronic shift lever rearward to “L” in order to engage one-pedal drive mode, which will do most of the braking for you automatically.

Chevy also provides a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that effectively does the same when it comes to braking, so if you prefer to have less rolling resistance for a more traditional feel when driving around, you can just leave it in drive and use the steering wheel paddle to brake when needed. Of course, there’s a big brake pedal in the usual spot, just in case you need to stop quickly.

The steering wheel rim next to braking paddle is heatable, incidentally, while the Bolt Premier’s three-way heated front seats were capable of therapeutic levels of warmth. Additionally, a wireless device charger was integrated within the lower centre console, purposely tucked away so drivers won’t be tempted to glance down at an incoming message when on the road. Chevy made sure that texts can be viewed and responded to (via stock answers) on the centre display, so there’s less need to touch it while driving. Two USB-A connectors and a powered auxiliary port can be found right beside the wireless charging pad, while another two USB-A charging points are located on the backside of the front console for rear passengers.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Chevy didn’t include a power-adjustable driver’s seat, but it was very comfortable just the same.

In case you were wondering if the Bolt Premier’s $50k-plus retail price buys you lavish levels of luxurious finishings, Chevy wasn’t feeling generous when applying the types of soft-touch synthetic surfaces found in cars costing upwards of $30,000. Instead, it gets a small rubber armrest on each door panel, plus a more comfortable padded leatherette one in the middle. I found the seats excellent, offering good support all around, but surprisingly they’re not powered. Should we chalk that up to environmentally conscious weight savings?

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The rear passenger area has impressive legroom and headroom, plus heated outboard seats.

Along with the manual seats and lack of navigation, my top-line Bolt was also missing a sunroof, and just in case you didn’t notice me mention it above, the automatic HVAC system only has one single zone. Some of these items can be found in similarly sized subcompact hatchbacks sold in the low $20,000s, so when it comes to these creature comforts, at least, be prepared to pay more for less.

Of course, the majority the money goes towards the big battery pack and electrical drive system that makes driving it so much fun, and so ultimately efficient. It’s also roomy, especially for legroom and headroom. Chevy designed it with a long wheelbase to accommodate the battery, which spans the entire floor, from the front foot well to rearmost portion of the back seat. The end result is a noticeable improvement in legroom over its subcompact peers, while head space in this class is almost always open and airy. This said it’s narrower than compacts like Chevy’s old Cruze and Volt, but not by much, while it’s a lot wider than the little Spark, so there’s more room for elbows and knees.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
The rear hatch lifts up high out of the way, and the dedicated storage are is quite large for the class.

The driver’s position fit my long-legged, short-torso body ideally, with excellent reach from the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, while most rear passengers should be able to stretch their legs out to some extent, due to feet slotting easily underneath the front seat. A nice large folding armrest can be found at the centre of the rear row, while heated seats are included in back too. There’s decent storage as well, with 1,603 litres (56.6 cu ft) available when the 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded flat, making this a very practical little electric. Chevy even includes a removable cargo floor for fitting in taller cargo or stowing belongings below, one item of which was the aforementioned 120-volt household-style charge cord that can be used at home while waiting for a 240-volt system to be installed.

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
A 60/40-split rear seatback increases cargo carrying capacity to 1,603 litres, while the floor is removable for hiding valuables or fitting in tall items.

So that’s the 2021 Chevy Bolt from front to back, with a little sales info and road testing to spice things up in between. If you’re looking for the best deal on a subcompact hatchback it’s probably not the car for you, but if you want the most advanced small hatch on the market, not to mention one of the more affordable new electric cars available, it’s a very good choice that I can’t help but recommend. Its overall performance is strong, range superb, infotainment technology impressive, overall livability great for the small car sector, and overall design appealing for a car in its class.

The all-new 2022 model will remedy a significant portion of my pricing complaint, so if you’re considering one of these outgoing 2021 models, make sure to aggressively push for a final price that comes closer to matching the much more affordable new version. If your Chevy dealer can’t do that, you should probably choose a 2022.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

The Bolt EV, which currently combines subcompact-sized hatchback practicality with a zero-emissions plug-in battery-powered electric drivetrain that’s more fun to drive than anything available at its…

Chevrolet expands Bolt line with updated hatchback and new EUV crossover model

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet has redesigned its 2022 Bolt EV with much more complex headlamp clusters and fog light bezels, plus a grey-painted and textured grille panel.

The Bolt EV, which currently combines subcompact-sized hatchback practicality with a zero-emissions plug-in battery-powered electric drivetrain that’s more fun to drive than anything available at its entry-level size, is getting a major update for 2022, including an even more practical EUV crossover variant.

Think of the latter as the modern-day version of the now defunct Prius V, which was a good idea from a practical standpoint, albeit the EUV is purely electric instead of hybrid powered, and arguably more attractive to a broader consumer base. The two Chevy EVs are also smaller than anything that currently wears the Prius nameplate, with even the updated regular variant sized closer to the subcompact Prius C, which was also discontinued for lack of sales.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
New for 2022 is the extended Bolt EUV, which gets unique front styling while increasing rear seat legroom.

Despite mighty Toyota failing to create a brand within a brand with its highly successful Prius nameplate, now only offering two slightly different looking versions of the same compact/mid-size hatchback, one hybrid-powered and the other upgraded with a larger battery and plug-in capability, General Motors’ most popular brand will take a stab at the sub-brand business model, but to Chevrolet’s credit their new EUV actually looks like a subcompact crossover, so maybe it will fare better in this daunting quest than Toyota.

The current first-generation Bolt is a raised hatchback as well, and therefore similarly crossover-like. In another attempt to give it crossover status, the new version, shown on a sandy beach in some of its press photos (which is never a smart place to park without four-wheel drive), once again gets a slight lift along with blacked out trim around its lower regions and wheel cut outs, with only a set of black roof rails needed to finish off the SUV look. Alas, you’ll need to step up to the new EUV to get those.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
The longer EUV looks similar to the regular Bolt from behind.

The Bolt EUV also grows the regular model in every dimension, although it’s really only adding 161 mm (6.3 in) of length, being that it’s just 5 mm (0.2 in) wider with 10 mm (0.4 in) more track, plus 5 mm (0.2 in) taller. This improvement, which adds 75 mm (3 in) of wheelbase, allows the EUV to gain 78 mm (3.1 in) of legroom in back, but oddly cargo space is down a fraction, from 470 litres (15.6 cu ft) with the seats up and 1,614 litres (57.0 cu ft) when lowered, to 462 and 1,611 litres (16.3 and 56.9 cu ft) respectively in the larger EUV.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Those will smaller children or little need to carry along rear passengers should be fine with the regular-length Bolt EV.

Despite the increase in height, the EUV’s headroom is also lower by a literal 0.2-mm (0.1-in) hair front to back, while it loses 24 mm (0.9 in) more up front when the sunroof is added. Shoulder room gets reduced nominally in the second row too, whereas hip room increases by a similarly wafer-thin sliver up front yet decreases by slightly more in back, so therefore the move up to the larger EUV really only benefits rear passenger legroom, an issue that reportedly causes complaints from current Bolt owners. At least the little crossover’s curb weight only increases by 41 kilos (90 lbs).

The added weight won’t likely be felt by EUV buyers thanks to the aforementioned performance of today’s Bolt, a power unit that Chevy saw no need to upgrade, although it will shave approximately 15 km (9 miles) from the larger model’s estimated range, from 417 km (259 miles) to 402 (250). This means the new 2022 Bolt EV and EUV will both be powered by a permanent magnetic electric drive motor and 65-kWh, 288-cell lithium-ion battery that combine for a very healthy 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Both models will be front-wheel drive only, like a number of other small crossover SUVs currently available.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
Both Bolt EV and EUV (shown) interiors look similar and more conventional than their predecessor in layout and design.

DC fast charging capability is standard, which provides about 150 or 160 km (100 or 95 miles) of respective EV or EUV range after a 30-minute recharge, while a new dual-level charge cord allows its owner to hook up to either a 240-volt charging station or 120-volt household-type three-prong outlet.

Anyone familiar with the current Bolt will see the new models’ most significant changes inside, where both the EV and EUV receive cabins featuring a more horizontal theme to create a wider visual presence. The new layout is more conventional too, with a less pod-like centre stack that flows downward into a traditional lower console. It remains filled with the same standard 10.2-inch touchscreen, which is not only large for the subcompact class, but has been refreshed with new graphics. The system continues to offer a full assortment of functions, including standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus available navigation, while it’s now supported by standard wireless charging. On the contrary, the fully digital primary instrument cluster appears identical to that in the outgoing car.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The new Bolt EV (shown) and EUV feature a fully digital gauge cluster that appears identical  to the outgoing model.

Along with the current Bolt’s previously noted rear legroom shortcomings, customers also complained about seat comfort and substandard interior materials quality. While there’s never an excuse for the former, the latter wouldn’t normally be an issue amongst subcompact vehicles, but being that the Bolt EV nudges up against $45,000 before any government rebate programs, more soft-touch synthetics probably should have been part of this EV’s offering all along. Therefore, 2022 variants will reportedly get better perceived quality, with some dash-mounted faux leather even appearing in the press images. Interior switchgear has also been improved, although nothing appears premium-like in its design or execution.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
The Bolt EV and EUV’s (shown) centre stack is all-new, featuring a large 10.2-inch touchscreen that integrates an updated interface.

The redesigned lower centre console features a new gear selector, however, ditching the conventional shift lever for a narrow row of Acura/Honda-like push and pull buttons. A green-lit button closest to the driver engages one-pedal driving, which is a more effective way than sliding the shift lever into the “L” position, a system used for the current Bolt and other GM EVs and plug-ins. More familiar to Bolt and Volt users are paddles on the backside of the new flat-bottom steering wheel, which can be used to assist braking and recharge the battery via regenerative kinetic energy.

Speaking of tech, the top-tier EUV Premier will be the first Chevy to offer GM’s Super Cruise hands-free semi-self-driving technology, functional on median divided highways. The EUV Premier also boasts adaptive cruise control and an HD 360-surround parking camera.

As for new Bolt family styling, most should find the smaller EV more attractive than its already reasonably handsome (for a subcompact hatchback) predecessor, unless its prospective owners would rather look at a more traditional grille-filled front fascia. The new car does away with the black mesh grille insert for a grey-painted and patterned panel within an ovoid outline, a very slender opening slotting below being the only real opening. This at least creates a familiar face compared to the Tesla Model 3 that looks as if it’s one of those non-branded cars used for insurance company advertising (and the like).

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The new Bolt EV (shown) and EUV receive a Honda-like row of gear selector controls.

Chevy once again ties a black strip of fender trim into the headlight clusters, which are now LEDs to enhance forward visibility and potentially lead to a higher IIHS Top Safety Pick rating, but those lighting elements are much more complex than the ones departing. The main lenses are narrower, thanks to the just noted LEDs within, while the old car’s traditional fog lamps get replaced by an extension of said black trim, not unlike today’s Cadillac front fascia designs.

The EUV gets a different frontal look, separating the headlamps and vent-like fog lamp bezels, and providing a deeper air intake at the base of the solid grey grille insert. The aforementioned black fender trim piece flows into the mirror caps of both cars, and appears to follow the black-painted window trim around the glass to a floating roof, similar to the car it replaces and other Chevy vehicles. While the backsides of both models are quite different in execution, they have similar designs overall, with neat, horizontally-shaped LED-infused taillights at each corner, plenty of glossy black composite in between, and big matte black bumpers at the bottom, the EUV a bit dressier thanks to a set of aluminum-look faux skid plates front to rear.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Strangely enough, the shorter Bolt EV (shown) has slightly more cargo space than the longer EUV.

Pricing for the 2022 Bolt EV will start at just $38,198 plus freight and fees, which is an impressive $6,800 less than the outgoing 2021 Bolt EV, whereas the new Bolt EUV will be available from only $40,198. Just as importantly, loading them up should keep their end numbers below $45k, which if exceeded disallows them from government rebate programs. Currently, only the base 2021 Bolt LT, at $44,998, qualifies for the most generous government handout, while the better equipped Bolt Premier’s $50,298 MSRP disqualifies it from any rebates. The new models are expected to arrive at GM retailers this summer, so we expect GM to offer ever-increasing incentives in order to rid dealerships of the current model.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
Most shouldn’t notice the EUV’s (shown) cargo deficit.

So far CarCostCanada is only showing up to $1,000 in additional incentives on 2021 Bolts, and up to $2,000 on 2020 models, but you’ll need to become a member to find out the details. CarCostCanada’s inexpensive membership provides the latest info on manufacturer rebates, when available, plus up-to-date details on factory leasing and financing deals, while best of all you’ll receive dealer invoice pricing to help you get the optimal deal on any new vehicle.

It’s all available from their website or via a smartphone app you can download from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store. CarCostCanada members are currently averaging $3,000 in savings from the 2021 Bolt, so make sure to find out how the CarCostCanada system works in order to get the best possible deal on your next new car.

Also, make sure to check out our complete 2021 Bolt EV and EUV photo gallery above, and enjoy the following videos from Chevy’s YouTube page:

Magic is Electric | Bolt EUV Reveal | Chevrolet (1:30):

Behind the Magic | Bolt EUV Reveal | Chevrolet (14:25):

Super Cruise | Bolt EUV | Chevrolet (0:30):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Chevrolet

What do you get when you combine a Camaro and a Traverse? No, I wasn’t going to say Caverse or Tamaro, as fun as such word games are (not), but if you guessed Blazer (the title might’ve given it away)…

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS Road Test

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
It’s easy to see the Camaro’s influence in the new Chevrolet Blazer RS’s styling.

What do you get when you combine a Camaro and a Traverse? No, I wasn’t going to say Caverse or Tamaro, as fun as such word games are (not), but if you guessed Blazer (the title might’ve given it away) you’d be right.

Of course, any comparisons to the Camaro are relegated to the new Blazer’s outlandish styling, especially in sportiest RS trim, along with the top-line models’ 3.6-litre V6, which combine for one of the hottest looking and fastest crossover SUVs in the mainstream volume sector.

What it’s not is, um, a Blazer, or at least not in the traditional sense. Unlike in other markets where the similarly named Trailblazer is a now non-conventional body-on-frame truck-based SUV that shares its underpinnings and body shell hard points with the Isuzu mu-X, our Blazer is a similarly sized crossover SUV based on Chevy’s new(ish) C1XX platform architecture shared with the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, plus the aforementioned Traverse, Buick Enclave and Caddy XT6 in extended form, and via the car-designated E2XX platform, the Chevy Malibu, various now discontinued Buick Regal models, and Cadillac XT4 (as well as the defunct Chevy Impala and Buick Lacrosse in extended P2XX form). Got that?

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
The Blazer RS’ blackened trim and big black 21-inch alloys give it a sportier look than every competitor.

While that 2.8-litre turbo-diesel-powered Trailblazer is a go-anywhere rock crawler, river runner, mud-spewer, etcetera capable of negotiating the nether-regions of the Grand Canyon (possible via the Diamond Creek road that departs from the town of Peach Springs, Arizona located on the famed Route 66, incidentally), mated to a solidly built six-speed automatic that drives a part-time 4WD system, the new Blazer RS is more of a canyon carver sporting a detuned version of the aforementioned Camaro V6, a new nine-speed autobox, and standard AWD.

This is where I start grumbling about an opportunity lost, especially egregious now that FoMoCo fanatics are whooping it up over the all-new Bronco lineup, and the Jeep faithful are forever laughing in the faces of disenfranchised bowtie fanboys crying in their herbal tea at the loss of the once great Blazer nameplate.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, but the new Blazer RS is downright mephistophelian.

Sure, the General still makes a body-on-frame SUV, but for many the full-size Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon are too big, these Silverado/Sierra related SUVs actually the spiritual successors of the original 1969–1994 Blazer K5/Jimmy. The ‘70s fuel crisis and call to go small that followed, resulted in the compact pickup-based 1983–2005 S-10 Blazer and S-15 Jimmy, which were sized more along the lines of the current Wrangler and Bronco, this now being the 4×4 sweet spot due to off-road manoeuvrability, agility and the ability to drive farther into wilderness on a tank of fuel. But where is the Blazer? It’s taking the kids to school and running mall errands.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
Sporty enough for you? It sure looks hot, but those dual exhausts are tuned more for allowing babies to sleep in the back seat than stirring the souls of muscle car fans.

It’s not like 4×4-capable SUVs aren’t popular these days. They’re selling well and doing their best to enhance brand images that, trucks aside, are somewhat soft around their edges now that most SUVs are car-based. Like this Blazer, the majority aren’t even attempting to look like traditional sport utilities anymore, let alone claim any off-road territory. Those who read my ramblings regularly know that I’d never normally complain about this soft-ute scenario, because some truly spectacular performance-oriented car-based utilities have been introduced in recent years, but diluting a classic 4×4 name like Blazer to grocery-getter status is almost as bad as slapping the Camaro badge on an electric crossover! Yup, I’m talking to you Mustang Mach-E.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
The Blazer RS interior combines quality materials and refinement with a uniquely sporty character.

At least the Blazer RS kind of looks like a Camaro, especially in its raciest red colour scheme. Love it or lump it, no one can argue against its ability to pull eyeballs, but don’t expect its squared-off dual exhaust to rumble like a ZL1, let alone an LT1 with the V6 upgrade. The Blazer’s version of Chevy’s 3.6-litre six doesn’t make 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque either, although in this bread-and-butter class its 308 hp and 270 ft-lb are nothing to sneeze at, resulting in a respectable sprint of about 6.5 seconds from zero to 100 km/h. Sure, that’s still 0.5 seconds shy of Ford’s Edge ST, but you look faster standing still in the Chevy.

That in mind, be grateful we don’t get the U.S.-spec 2.5-litre four as our base engine, that mill only churning out 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. Instead, our entry-level Blazer powerplant is more or less the same 2.0-litre turbo-four found in the base Camaro (see a pattern here?), pushing out 227 ponies and 258 lb-ft instead of 275 and 295 respectively in the less muscular version of Chevy’s muscle car. This is where I probably shouldn’t mention that the 2.0-litre turbo in Ford’s base Edge is good for 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, but I never was very good at holding back things I shouldn’t say.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
The well laid out Blazer RS instrument panel gets plenty of red highlights to help it stand out from its peers.

The just-noted Ford gets an eight-speed automatic throughout its range, which is impressive, but kudos to Chevy for going one step further by mating both Blazer engines to a fancy new nine-speed autobox. It gets no paddles, mind you, even in its sportiest RS trim, leaving those who want to get frisky a little thumb-actuated rocker switch on the shifter knob that, truth be told, isn’t any more engaging than slapping the entire gear lever back and forth. Fortunately, the transmission shifts effortlessly if not quickly, but even with its racy looks I don’t see most owners rowing through their Blazer RS gears as if this SUV were a Le Mans-spec’d Corvette C7.R.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
The Blazer RS gauge cluster features a high resolution 8.0-inch multi-info display.

As noted earlier, all RS trimmed Blazers come standard with all-wheel drive in Canada, and I like that it’s a part-time system that can be driven solely by the front wheels when rear traction is not needed, helping save money at the pump, where V6-powered Blazers get a claimed 13.1 L/100km in the city, 9.4 on the highway and 11.4 combined. When all wheels are required, simply turn a rotating knob on the lower console from “x2” to “x4” and you won’t be slip-sliding away any longer. Another twist of the dial engages sport mode, while mountain and towing modes are also included.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
The Blazer’s vertical tablet-style infotainment touchscreen is a class act.

With sport mode engaged, the V6-equipped Blazer really pulls strongly from standstill, almost fully living up to the performance promised by its neck-snapping styling. The transmission’s two-second-plus shift intervals will quickly tame any unbridled enthusiasm, which is likely why no paddles were included, but the gearbox kicks down nicely for passing purposes and very real power is ever-present, this a real bonus through the corners was well.

Yes, the RS, complete with nice meaty 265/45R21 Continental CrossContact all-seasons, did a good job carving up the local country backroads, always remaining planted in its lane even when pushed hard, and not leaning over as much as most in this class. Still, its well-sorted suspension never got too harsh, defaulting to compliance as a vehicle in this family class should.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
Chevy’s 9-speed automatic is wonderfully smooth, but it’s not very sporty. A rocker switch on the shift knob is used for manual shift mode.

Comfort is king in the SUV sector, and nowhere is this more obvious than the new Blazer RS’ cabin. Sure, its interior styling does its best to pull off a five-seat Camaro look, but Chevy isn’t fooling anyone, which is a good thing. Let’s face it, as impressive as the Camaro is as a muscle car, it’s not designed for hauling families. That’s the Blazer’s first priority, and it does a better job of this than anything else.

It’s wide and long for a five-seater, with ample cabin space for large folks front to rear, not to mention cargo aplenty in back. It gets the usual 60/40-split rear seatbacks for expanding its gear-toting capacity, so should serve most buyers’ needs to a tee.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
Blazer RS seats are comfortable and supportive, while the SUV’s seating position should be good for most body types.

It’s also quite luxurious for the class, with no shortage of soft-touch surfacing throughout, Chevy continuing the black on red exterior theme with a red on black motif inside, including the circular dash-mounted HVAC bezels, the perforated leather seats, the piping and contrast stitching on those seats and elsewhere, and even a little “RS” badge on the shift knob. The interior further gets a tasteful assortment of bright and brushed metallic trim too, with its general fit, finish, materials quality up to par with others in this class.

Better than many, however, is the Blazer’s collection of electronic displays, this being a criterion that Chevy deserves high marks. The gauge cluster isn’t fully digital, but the 8.0-inch multi-information display at centre is brilliantly executed with clear, high resolution quality, nice brightly coloured graphics, and a serious assortment of functions. The main infotainment touchscreen at dash-central is even better, mostly because of its simple, straightforward yet highly attractive graphics and all-round ease-of-use. It also comes packed full of features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an accurate navigation system, a clear rearview camera, and more.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
Rear seat roominess is generous.

Additional RS features included a large panoramic glass sunroof overhead, a heatable steering wheel and heated front seats, dual-zone auto HVAC, a hands-free power liftgate, a sportier grille, and all the blackened exterior trim noted before.

In the end, the new Blazer RS is either going to rock your world or leave you wondering what Chevy was even thinking, there is no middle ground. I like the brand’s boldness in this regard, and on that note the Blazer name is theirs, and they can do with it what they want, Chevy 4×4 loyalists be damned. You’ve got to respect that kind of bravado, good choice or bad.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer RS
There’s no shortage of cargo space in back.

Base Blazer LT pricing starts at $37,198 plus freight and fees, with the as-tested RS model available from $46,698. Sales of all trims have been quite strong, so obviously it has targeted the Canadian market well and deserves the success it’s achieving.

Discover up to $1,000 in additional Blazer incentives by visiting CarCostCanada, where you can gain access to the latest manufacturer financing and leasing deal info, find out about any manufacturer rebates, and best off all get dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands. Also, download the free CarCostCanada app to have all of this key info and more at your fingertips all the time. Make sure to check out how the CarCostCanada system works, so you can save big on this new Blazer or any other new car, truck or SUV sold in Canada.

by Trevor Hofmann

Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen…

Chevrolet, Kia and Jeep win 2020 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The entirely new mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has won the North American Car of the Year. (Photo: Chevrolet)

Guessing which vehicles will take home the annual North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards is easier some years than others, but most industry experts had 2020’s crop of winners chosen long before this week’s announcement.

The actual name of the award is the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) despite now having three categories covering passenger cars, a sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

Just 50 automotive journalists make up the NACTOY jury, from print, online, radio and broadcast media in both the United States and Canada, with the finalists presented in the fall and eventual winners awarded each year at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, although this year’s presentation was changed to a separate event at Detroit’s TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall/Cobo Center) due to the 2020 NAIAS moving its dates forward to June 7-20 this year. The NACTOY awards were first presented in 1994, with the Utility Vehicle category added in 2017.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The new Corvette promises supercar performance and exotic cachet for a pauper’s price. (Photo: Chevrolet)

Of note, nomination requirements include completely new vehicles, total redesigns, or significant refreshes. In other words, the nominated vehicle needs to be something most consumers would consider new to the market or substantially different from a model’s predecessor. Also important, the finalists earned their top-three placement by judging their segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for money.

The selection process started in June last year, with the vehicle eligibility determined after three rounds of voting. NACTOY used the independent accounting firm Deloitte LLP to tally the votes and kept them secret until the envelopes were unsealed on stage by the organization’s President, Lauren Fix, Vice President, Chris Paukert, and Secretary-Treasurer, Kirk Bell.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The new Corvette’s interior appears much more upscale than previous generations. (Photo: Chevrolet)

The finalists in the “Car” category included the Chevrolet Corvette, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Supra, with the final winner being the new seventh-generation mid-engine Corvette, a total game changer for the model and sports car category. Interestingly, it’s been six years since a sports car won the passenger car category, so kudos to Chevy for creating something so spectacular it couldn’t be ignored, while Toyota and Hyundai should also be commended for their excellent entries.

“A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy’s muscle-car icon. They nailed it. Stunning styling, interior, and performance for one-third of the cost of comparable European exotics,” said Henry Payne, auto critic for The Detroit News.

2020 Kia Telluride
The new 2020 Kia Telluride is as close to premium as any mainstream volume branded SUV has ever been, Hyundai Palisade aside. (Photo: Kia)

The “Utility Vehicle” finalists included the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Lincoln Aviator, with most industry insiders believing one of the two South Korean entries (which are basically the same vehicle under the skin, a la Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia) would take home the prize, and lo and behold the Kia Telluride earned top marks.

“The Telluride’s interior layout and design would meet luxury SUV standards, while its refined drivetrain, confident driving dynamics and advanced technology maintain the premium experience,” said Karl Brauer, Executive Publisher at Cox Automotive. “Traditional SUV brands take note: there’s a new star player on the field.”

2020 Jeep Gladiator
The new 2020 Jeep Gladiator is everything we all love about the Wrangler with the added convenience of a pickup truck bed. (Photo: Jeep)

Lastly, “Truck” of the year finalists included the new to us Ford Ranger, the entirely new Jeep Gladiator, and the Ram HD (Heavy Duty) 2500 and 3500, with the sensational new Gladiator getting the highest marks. Incidentally, you’d need to look all the way back to 1999 to find a Jeep that won its category, that model being the Grand Cherokee.

“What’s not to like about a pickup truck with not only a soft-top removable roof but even removable doors? If you want massive cargo-hauling capability or the ability to tow 10,000 pounds, buy something else,” said longtime automotive journalist John Voelcker. “The eagerly awaited Gladiator is a one-of-a-kind truck, every bit the Jeep its Wrangler sibling is … but with a pickup bed. How could you possibly get more American than that?”

Of note, NACTOY is an independent, non-profit organization, with elected officers and funding by dues-paying journalist members.

Find out more about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Jeep Gladiator at CarCostCanada, where you can get trim, package and individual option pricing, plus rebate info and even dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. While the Corvette is not yet available, you can get up to $1,000 in additional incentives on the new Telluride, and factory leasing and financing rates from 4.09 percent for the new Gladiator. Make sure to check CarCostCanada for more.

A diesel in a compact crossover SUV? Now that’s marching to a different drummer.  In fact, that distinctively domestic rat-a-tat-tat is the staccato snare of General Motors following through on promises…

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier Road Test

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Chevy redesigned its popular Equinox for 2018, but nevertheless made plenty of positive change this year. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A diesel in a compact crossover SUV? Now that’s marching to a different drummer. 

In fact, that distinctively domestic rat-a-tat-tat is the staccato snare of General Motors following through on promises made by Asian competitors Hyundai and Mazda. The Korean and Japanese brands were supposed to arrive with diesel-powered variants of their Santa Fe and CX-5 crossover SUVs this 2019 model year, but so far there’s no sign of this ultra-efficient engine option on their retail websites, yet GM showed up in late 2017 with a turbo-diesel option as part of a three-engine lineup for its then redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain compact SUVs, a welcome first in this category, that is if we were to forget about the short-lived 2005-2006 Jeep Liberty Diesel. Let’s just say it’s a welcome first amongst compact crossovers, these more car-like GM models hardly as off-road capable as the boxy little Jeep was, that long-gone model since replaced by the Cherokee that remains a capable 4×4 less a diesel option. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
The handsome looking Equinox should appeal to everyone in the family. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I drove a 1.5-litre turbo-four gasoline-powered Equinox Premium model first (the white SUV in the photos), and have since spent a week with the same trim and its 1.6-litre turbo-diesel powerplant (the blue version). As much as I’d certainly enjoy the experience, I’ve yet to test out the most powerful top-line 2.0-litre turbo-four. 

The base engine might seem a bit underwhelming on paper with just 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque on tap, particularly for those wanting or requiring quick shots of energy on command, but I found it more than sufficient for this relatively lightweight crossover SUV, and it’s very easy on the budget with a claimed five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 9.2 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 8.3 combined in FWD, or 9.3, 7.8 and 8.6 respectively with AWD. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Or maybe you’d rather have your Equinox in white with a different powertrain behind that bisected grille? (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The 2.0-litre four that comes standard with AWD is good considering its 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which vaults the Equinox up into luxury compact SUV territory, yet despite an impressive nine-speed automatic, which is three forward gears more than the two lesser engine’s six-speed autoboxes, it manages just 10.9 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.7 combined. 

Both transmissions come standard with automatic stop/start, by the way, which automatically shuts off the engine when the Equinox comes to a stop and then instantly restarts it when lifting off the brake in order to reduce emissions and running costs. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Lighter colours show off its unique floating rear roofline. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be fair, this is quite good when compared to similarly powerful competitors, but both gasoline-powered models pale in comparison to the “conventionally” powered crossover SUV category’s fuel economy champ, the Equinox Diesel that’s rated at an extremely thrifty 8.5 L/100km in the city, 6.0 on the highway (6.1 with AWD) and 7.4 combined, unless compared to the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that solidly beats Chevy’s oil burner at 5.8 city, 6.3 highway and 6.0 combined, while its $32,090 base price is a surprising thousand and change less expensive than the cheapest Equinox LT FWD model, an SUV that starts at $33,100. It’s a significant $6,400 more than the $26,700 base Equinox LS too, and $5,300 less than the $38,400 Equinox AWD Premier Diesel being reviewed here. AWD, incidentally, adds $2,400 to the base LS, while the Equinox AWD 2.0 Premier starts at $37,900. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
The Premier gets sporty design details, while these 19-inch alloys are optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All noted prices are not including freight and fees, but these details as well as additional pricing for trims, packages and individual options can be found at CarCostCanada, where you can also source the latest manufacturer rebates (especially important during year-end clear-outs) and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

Savings in mind, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is by far the compact SUV class’ efficiency leader, albeit at $43,498 before government rebates it’s a helluvalot pricier too, leaving the two GM diesels as the most efficient non-electrified crossovers in the compact category. Even the 2.0-litre turbo beats the few similarly powerful crossovers in the class, so kudos to GM for offering such a wide variety of engine and transmission alternatives, plus making them all achieve better than average fuel economy. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
LED headlamps are worth the upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I must say that I prefer the diesel upgrade to the base engine from both performance and efficiency perspectives. The diesel might only make 137 horsepower, but it puts a much more motivating 240 lb-ft of torque down to its front wheels or all four, also from just 2,000 rpm, the same as the base engine. 

The Equinox AWD system improves fuel economy even more. In fact, unlike most competitors that provide full-time AWD or engineer the rear wheels to engage automatically, the Equinox drives with its front wheels unless you’ve added traction at the back via a button on the centre console. You’ll get a warning when four-wheel grip is recommended, but any other instance you can save fuel by driving what is effectively a front-wheel driven SUV. I noticed this when the front tires kept skidding at takeoff, the diesel providing so much torque at launch it was hard to hold them back, but pressing the AWD button cured this problem, making the Equinox more sure-footed at take off and of course better at holding the road during wet weather too. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Great looking rims, Chevy! (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Both models’ six-speed automatics were highly responsive. Each includes a rocker switch atop the shift knob for rowing through the gears in manual mode, which is an interesting alternative to shifting the entire gear lever or using steering wheel paddles (on that note don’t try shifting the gears with the buttons on the backside of the steering wheel, because you’ll probably only switch radio stations). I never once found it lacking gears, as the two engines provide ample torque over wide rev ranges, while they shifted smoothly whether toggling through the cogs manually or leaving them in Drive. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Extra chrome trim helps to spiff up the Equinox exterior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Likewise the Equinox has a nice compliant suspension, normal for any GM product other than performance-dedicated models like the Corvette Z06. For its class the Equinox handles very well too. It really feels lightweight and nimble, whether zipping in and out of congested traffic, pushing hard on a winding backcountry road, or stably cruising through fast-paced bends on the open highway. 

No matter the exterior environment, most should be impressed with the Equinox Premier’s interior that’s finished to a higher grade than many of its contemporaries. It starts upon closing the driver’s door, which feels more solid than some of its tinny competitors, and continues through with some really nice details like smooth and perforated patterned and contrast-stitched leatherette surface treatments across the entire instrument panel, plus tasteful application of truly attractive aluminum-like trim on the steering wheel, primary instruments, dash vents, plus the centre stack and lower console controls. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Pretty ritzy door handles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Chevy doesn’t go overboard on soft-touch synthetics, but it does wrap the contrast-stitched leatherette armrests up and over the rear third of the door uppers, and finishes the rest of those uppers in a soft painted synthetic, which also gets used for the dash top and much of the instrument panel, plus the top edges of the centre stack and lower console. Just to be clear, it’s not as if this soft-paint will peel off at any time, as it’s permanently fixed to the plastic and therefore provides a much nicer texture than this segment’s usual hard shell plastic. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
The Equinox Premier interior is very refined and well stocked with upscale features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Moving such premium touches even further upmarket are really nice steering wheel controls, my tester even incorporating a heatable steering wheel rim plus adaptive cruise control, while much of these buttons modulate a colour multi-information display within the otherwise analogue gauge cluster, this featuring a digital readout for traffic sign information, and a back seat reminder that prompts when turning off the engine if you happened to open a rear door before starting off. 

Leaving what I think is best for the last, the Equinox’ centre touchscreen infotainment system is really impressive. I love the simple circular graphics rimmed in mostly primary colours, which are bright, modern and ultra-easy to figure out. This is one of the better infotainment systems available in this class, and while I’ve seen larger displays this one is wonderfully crisp and clear, with superb resolution plus nice, deep, rich colours and good contrast. The navigation system’s map provides clear instructions, and it worked accurately throughout my test week. My only infotainment disappointment was a lack of album cover graphics when using satellite radio, which was a bit unexpected being that GM basically gave satellite radio a leg up by adding it across virtually all models when the service first started. Nevertheless, satellite radio is always appreciated. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
The top-line Equinox parking monitor is one of the best we’ve ever tested. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The infotainment system also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, plus my tester included one of the better surround parking cameras I’ve ever used, with the ability to transfer the view from a default mode, which makes the overhead camera smaller and to the left of the display with a larger backup camera with dynamic guidelines to the right, over to a full backup camera with dynamic guidelines, or alternatively to a different view of that same reverse camera, an overhead view of that rearview camera, or alternatively a bizarre frontal view that actually seems as if it’s filming the SUV from outer space, really handy close-ups of curb or road on both sides, to an extreme close-up of the front, and more. Believe me, this camera will keep you spellbound for hours, and once you figure out all the viewpoints you’ll never scratch a set of wheels (or another vehicle) again. Incidentally, this top-line parking camera and the base version were upgraded with improved image quality for this 2019 model year. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
Good seats and a great driving position. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Below the infotainment display is a dual-zone automatic climate control interface that’s well organized and attractive enough, but my favourite set of buttons were for activating the three-way heated and/or ventilated front seats, the latter not always available in this class, but really helpful for keeping backside dry and cool against leather in the summer.  

The base of the centre stack features a large opening with a rubberized compartment that’s carved out to ideally fit a large smartphone in its elongated position. A wireless charging pad was included, plus GM now incorporates the usual USB-A plug as well as one of the newer USB-C ports (both capable of charging and used as inputs to the infotainment system), which might have been needed for my Samsung S9 if it wasn’t already charging on the just-noted wireless pad. The usual aux plug and 12-volt charger are included too, so your devices will be nicely taken care of in that little compartment alone, although moving slightly rearward results in two more USB charging ports under the front centre armrest. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
The rear seating area is spacious and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Look skyward and you’ll see an overhead console with a handy sunglasses holder that I used all week, plus LED reading lights, and controls for OnStar, SOS, and more. Two of those switches open the panoramic sunroof or its sunshade. I always appreciate large glass roofs like this as they bring a lot of light inside resulting in a nicer, more open ambiance. 

Speaking of room, the Equinox provided plenty for my medium-build five-foot-eight frame, plus a really good driving position that allowed me to get comfortable while maintaining full control. This isn’t always the case, by the way. I actually have trouble getting the tilt and telescopic steering columns of some competitors to reach far enough rearward when my seat is set ideally for my legs, particularly the aforementioned Toyota RAV4 that doesn’t have anywhere near enough adjustability, but no such difficulty in the well designed Equinox cabin. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
These levers lower the rear seatbacks automatically. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

What’s more, when my driver’s seat was set up for my long-legged short torso body type, I still had about eight inches of space ahead of my knees when sitting just behind in the second row, plus plenty of room from side to side and about two inches above my head, that panoramic sunroof mentioned a moment ago pushing the surrounding roof area down a couple of inches than it probably would have been if not included. Still, I’d take the roof, but I can imagine those with really tall six-foot-plus teens might find it a bit too low back there. 

As far as rear seat amenities go, Chevy includes LED reading lights on both sides, two more USB-A charge ports (new for 2019), a three-prong household-style 120-volt plug, and the best rear outboard seat heaters I’ve ever tested, in that their three-way temperature controls adjust both lower cushion and backrest heat, or just the back alone. You shouldn’t hear too many complaints from your kids, although being that the rear seatback is divided in a simple 60/40 configuration instead of some competitors’ 40/20/40 split or 60/40 with a centre pass-through, families that ski will need to draw straws for the lucky rear seat passenger getting the bun warmer for the ride home. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
There’s plenty of room for all your gear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

At least Chevy provides levers on the cargo wall for automatically folding those rear seatbacks down. Just give them a tug and the seats lay flat immediately. There’s also a fairly sizeable storage compartment under the load floor, which I certainly would put to good use if this were my SUV, while the area behind the rear seatbacks measures a generous 847 litres (29.9 cu ft), expanding to 1,809 litres (63.9 cu ft) when those seats are folded down. 

While the 2019 Equinox doesn’t look any different from the redesigned 2018 model, Chevy put a lot of effort into reconfiguring trims and packages to better suit their customers. For starters, a new Lights and Bright package can be had with second-rung LT trim, which adds a chrome grille surround, LED headlamps and taillights, plus unique 19-inch wheels. On the negative, front-drive LT models no longer get a standard leather-trimmed shift knob, this now available as part of an option package. 

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
A flexible cargo floor allows for all types of cargo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My tester included a $2,995 Driver Confidence and Convenience II package that’s exclusively available with Premier trim and features the surround parking camera noted earlier, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, a safety alert seat that vibrates if you veer out of your lane or cause any number of other issues, a heatable steering wheel rim, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with powered lumbar support, ventilated driver and front passenger seats, and the heated rear seats noted a moment ago. 

Alternatively you can opt for either the Driver Confidence II or Driver Convenience II package that includes the tech or luxury updates individually, while my tester also included a no-cost set of 19-inch five-spoke alloys. I won’t go into all the available options, but suffice to say those wanting to personalize their Equinox will be well taken care of.  

2019 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier
No compact rival offers as many options under the hood. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My tester also included a $1,305 Infotainment II package with the previously noted panoramic sunroof, navigation, a seven-speaker Bose audio upgrade, HD radio, and 19-inch alloys, while some notable Premier trim features include LED headlights and taillights, chrome door handles and mirror caps, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a colour multi-information display within the gauge cluster, a universal garage door opener, dual-zone automatic climate control, a one-inch larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, rear park assist, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a hands-free powered liftgate, etcetera. 

There’s plenty more that makes the Equinox worthy of your attention, but take note the diesel option will be discontinued for 2020, so you’ll need to act fast if you want to get your hands on one.