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Chevy Equinox Test Drive: Or How To Melt A Teenager

It started, like any other experience with my teenage daughter, with an epic eye roll. “OMG, that color.”

A Chevy Equinox had just been delivered to our house for a test drive and this ungrateful little brat has the gall to criticize its shade of orange (???!!!!)  I pondered how much I could get for her on Ebay, but then reconsidered, because they probably don’t serve margaritas in prison.  “Yeah, ok, it’s orange. But get inside!” I had been exploring the vehicle for a while before she arrived, marveling at its technology, roomy interior and simple entertainment system interface. Plus, I knew better than to start the day with an argument about taste, my middle aged ass was gonna lose.

“Hmm,” she said as she sat in the passenger seat.  If you have teenagers, you know that this expression equates to a pleasantly surprised “Wow” but their inner parent-hater just won’t allow the words to be expressed. But I know my kid. And I know damn well she was thinking the same thing as me, which was “Who knew the Chevy Equinox was gonna be so nice!”

I decided to drive the Equinox as a part of my teen driving series. It is a popular compact SUV and Chevy has made a real effort to capture the teen market and obviously their parents. But because I’m a hopeless car snob, I honestly didn’t expect to be impressed.  Could this car be right for my daughter? Maybe. Could this car be right for me? That’s hilarious.

There are a few things you notice about the Chevy Equinox right away (besides its unique shade of toasted puke).  First, it’s roomy for a compact SUV. Next, between the Chevrolet MyLink system and the Apple CarPlay, the entertainment system is ideal. Then, at some point, I turned around to find 10 year old Freya playing Minecraft in the back seat and before I could scream ‘data usage’, she exclaimed “It’s got a Hotspot!” Wuuhhh? A 4-G LTE Hotspot sounds like a useless extravagance until I realized that while I was waiting for my kid to finish her gymnastics lesson, I could stream that episode of “Casual” in the privacy of my own air conditioned personal theater. Oh hell yeah!

Driving the Equinox was equally fascinating. It handles surprisingly well. It is tight and responsive. Like most fuel efficient cars these days, it’s running on a 1.5L turbocharged 4 liter engine. This means its fuel efficiency is solid, I found myself getting around 27 mpg around town.  The torque was a bit more anemic than I wanted but I’m an aggressive driver (The understatement of the century? Perhaps). But once I got into the mode of just driving more slowly, I really enjoyed it. Now whether or not you want your teen driver to have access to speed is a topic of much debate. To me, it’s incredibly simple– if you’ve got a child that tends to be reckless, it’s best to keep a loaded gun out of their hand.  If they tend to shy away from confrontation or being assertive, show them the power of acceleration—it may be very helpful both in terms of driving safety and personal empowerment.

Speaking of safety, the Equinox has a pretty impressive array of features: forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and automated low-speed braking. Adaptive cruise control isn’t an option, which I personally would miss but I honestly don’t want my teen using that anyway, so that gets a hall pass. There are also crazy amounts of cameras, allowing bird’s eye view and surround vision, which is awesome.

I then told Ava about Chevy’s cool Teen Driver System that does stuff like this:

*mutes the audio until the front seats are buckled (take that Childish Gambino!)

*automatically turns on the safety features to keep her safe

*allow the parent to set speed alerts

*enables the parent to download a report card (complete with distance driven, max speed, how many times the auto-braking went off and other awesome helicoptering techniques)

And let’s just say that didn’t go very well. She looked at me like I had just suggested we give up ice cream forever.  But then I dropped this bomb: “If you want this car, I would insist on using that.”

She replied with a very slow and cautious “Welll….” and then blurted out “I really like this car. I has all the cool technology that your car has. And even more! I love the Hotspot, I love the CarPlay, you say drives well and…I ..I mean…could get over the color!” Oh really? Look who’s changed her tune!

It was weird, my chronically cynical, perpetually dismissive, incredibly critical little angel was showing a side of her that I hadn’t seen in years..she was being sweet.  Wuuuuuhhhhhhh???

Overall, at $30k tested, the Chevy Equinox is really worth considering for your teen driver. It is comfortable, handles well, is safe and utilizes the latest technological advances including some serious Big Brother stuff.  Plus, let’s not kid ourselves, if you’re gonna have another car in your driveway, you may as well make sure you want to drive too!


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