Chevrolet Equinox Review

And the award for "most improved" goes to.....

No, I'm not kidding. The past four years of the Chevy Equinox couldn't have been blander (quick..can you really picture one?). It was dead on arrival and buried by every new small SUV or crossover that came along since.

But this....if they'd had 535 of these to put in the Capitol parking lot a year ago, Congress would have passed a GM bailout bill so fast it would have made your head swim. There would have been no bankruptcy.

Yes...it's that good. So good, in fact, that I'd cross-shop it against the Mazda CX-7. And if you've read that review, you know that's saying something.

Pick the Chevy over the Mazda and you give up the sporting feel, but you gain room and a more commanding view of the road, thanks to the more traditional architecture of the Equinox.

Base price? $23,360...with most of the same standard equipment as the Mazda. The rest (apart from a sunroof) is made up for in options that, on our tester, only ran the bottom line up to $24,600. And here's what you get to sit in:

Not two years ago, I would have bet you that GM couldn't pull off an interior like that in this class and price of vehicle. Then, I'd have won.

And speaking of winning, the Equinox actually takes the CX-7 on fuel economy...thanks to a six-speed automatic paired with a just-right four....the EPA says 22 city/30 highway.

This is a vehicle that deserves your attention and consideration. And the new GM needs to make everything they do from here on out as good as this.

UPDATE: Just finished a week in the top-of-the-line LTZ model. Base price jumps to $28,045, but with so much standard equipment (power liftgate, 17" aluminum wheels, rearview camera embedded in the mirror, leather, automatic climate control, a Pioneer premium audio system) that GM was able to ship this one to us option-free. So with destination charges, the tab ends up at $28,790....$4,190 more than the lightly equipped base model above.

And the EPA has revised its estimates upward...it's now 22 city/32 highway. In my mix of city street and freeway driving, I saw 25.