Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2022 Chevy Equinox RS is shown parked at a Chevy Equinox dealership.

First-Time Buyers, Meet the Chevy Equinox

So you can finally drive, huh? What an exciting time. I’m sure that it feels amazing not to have to be dependent on the bus, the train, on walking, or on bumming rides off of other people. But, in order not to be dependent on these things, you need a car of your own. Ah, that’s the hard part. It can be so difficult to decide on a car to buy, especially if it’s your first time buying. There are so many options, so many different features–this car has this but not that the other car has that but not this; is it worth it to pay extra for a certain feature? Am I compromising by not paying extra for this other feature?

Calm down; it’s alright. This need not stress you out. The truth is that there are certain cars which will be a better option for you than others, and it is not as difficult as it seems to navigate these decisions. The Chevy Equinox, for example, is an excellent vehicle for new drivers. Now, I don’t want you to take my advice alone because you need to think through this decision carefully, so I highly suggest that you get into your Chevy Equinox dealership to ask any questions you may have and hopefully go for a test drive. But let me show you some of what makes the Equinox a great SUV for new drivers.

The black interior of a 2022 Chevy Equinox RS is shown at a Chevy Equinox dealership.

An SUV That Is Not Too Big To Handle

The 2022 Chevy Equinox is a small SUV. Now, you may think that an SUV is not a good place to start, and you are probably correct about that; a Suburban or Tahoe would likely be overwhelming (and way too expensive) for your first car. But, the Equinox is a small SUV taking on a more compact build, not bearing the large epic stance of a full-size SUV but having a more rounded and efficient structure that feels like a sedan when you drive.

You may think it’s better to go with a compact car, and maybe that is what is best for you; but, I would encourage you to take advantage of the freedom that comes with having a driver’s license and owning a car by going on road trips and enjoying the open road with friends. A sedan is, first off, going to make for a tighter ride for you and your friends. The Equinox, which seats five, provides 38.5 inches of second-row headroom and 39.9 inches of second-row legroom. This contributes to a total passenger volume of 103.5 cubic feet, giving you and your passengers a generous amount of space for an enjoyable ride.

In addition to giving your passengers room, the Equinox also provides much more cargo space than a compact car. The presence of a 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat allows you to increase your cargo space instantaneously. If you’re going to hit the road, you’ll want to bring a good amount of stuff with you in order to avoid spending unnecessary money. Because it is 60/40 rear folding, you don’t necessarily lose all of your rear seating space. If you fold only 40 percent of the rear bench seat, you will still be able to seat two people in the back seat (though that will be a tight ride, mind you) for a total of four passengers.

If you want to fit a little extra stuff, you can fold 60 percent of the rear bench seat and still have three total passengers. With the whole rear bench folded, combined with the vehicle’s hidden storage under the rear cargo floor, the Equinox provides a generous 63.9 cubic feet of cargo space. Compare this with a compact car such as the Malibu (a great car in itself), which offers total cargo space of 15.7 cubic feet. That’s a difference of 48.2 cubic feet. That’s a great deal of space to fit a lot of stuff and hit the open road.

Now, aside from the right-now element of space and passenger volume, you want to consider the long-haul when purchasing a car because this is a significant expense, and you will want this vehicle to last you for a good long while. Being a small SUV, the Equinox provides you with room to grow. It is possible that in the coming years you may want to get married and start a family. That is a good and exciting thing, but a realistic component of family life is that it will increase expenses, and if your vehicle is able to remain with you as you start your family and you can avoid purchasing a new vehicle when trying to buy a house and pay for the needs of family life, you will be better off.

As your family grows, you will likely need to invest in a larger vehicle, but the Equinox will serve you well in the early years of family life. The Equinox will do much better than a compact car as its increased rear passenger space makes it much easier to install and host children’s car seats than a low to the ground sedan. Of course, the flexible and heightened cargo space will also allow you to load up the kids’ belongings as well as your own and hit the road for family vacations.

Another benefit of driving a car of this size is that it will help you learn to navigate a larger vehicle without jumping right into the challenge of a full-size SUV. Having a slightly larger vehicle will also give you a leg-up in terms of safety. Speaking of safety, that is a whole other reason to go with the Equinox.

Safety Is Paramount When Starting Out

Chevy takes safety very seriously, and the 2022 Equinox is well-equipped with some leading safety features. The Equinox comes with the Chevy Safety Assist package, which includes Forward Collision Alert and Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, and Intellibeam Auto High Beam Assist (this automatically turns your high beam lights on and off depending on the conditions). The Chevy Safety Assist package is not here to do the driving for you; you must remain attentive and alert behind the wheel at all times (that tech isn’t available for the Equinox quite yet). However, it will certainly help by keeping an extra set of “eyes” on your surroundings.

Chevy Safety Assist is not the only way the vehicle can help you to cultivate safe driving habits. The Equinox also comes standard with Teen Driver Technology. This is not something every first-time car owner is going to want to use, but I highly recommend giving it a try to see how it can help you build good driving habits. This feature allows you to register a specific key that will activate the Teen Driver technology when it is used. This will enable you to set maximum speed, maximum acceleration, maximum audio volume, and more. Additionally, it provides an in-vehicle driving report card which allows you to monitor driving habits and see areas you may want to improve. This tech is excellent if you happen to have teens learning to drive, but it can be useful for you to track your new driving skills as well. It really is a helpful technology.

A family is shown walking back to their blue 2022 Chevy Equinox.

Leasing vs Buying

The 2022 Chevy Equinox has a starting MSRP of $25,800, which is an excellent starting price for a new SUV model if you are looking to buy. While this is a pretty standard price for a small SUV in the 2022 model year, there are two options to consider to make it more affordable. If you are sold on buying a vehicle but need to cut the price down just a little bit, you can always buy a used Equinox model, though it may not have all of the exciting and useful features depending on what model year it is from.

Maybe you really feel the 2022 model is better for you, but you just can’t afford a large payment right now. In this case, another option to consider is to lease your vehicle. This question of whether you should lease or buy is a very intricate one that needs to be carefully considered from many angles. But, in essence, leasing a vehicle allows you to use the vehicle for a set amount of time for a series of monthly payments. These monthly payments of leasing are usually far lower than monthly car loan payments.

What you need to consider, however, is that you will not own this car; you return it at the end of your lease, and you will be responsible for any repair costs, which could end up costing more than taking care of those repairs on your own. You are also able to buy the car at the end of your lease if you want to, which means that you may be able to keep the car. This option would allow you to put off by a few years the higher cost of buying, when you may be able to afford it. So, if you really think that the 2022 Equinox is for you, but you can’t afford a large car payment right now, you may want to seriously consider leasing. You’ll want to talk with your dealer about this, as they will help you decide upon the best option for your financial situation.

All in All

This is an exciting time for you. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed just because there are a lot of options out there. However, if you want something that checks a lot of boxes, I really think that the Equinox is a fantastic vehicle for a new driver and first-time car buyer. Its moderate size, spacious interior, and excellent safety features make it a well-crafted vehicle that will suit your needs now and as you move into the next chapter of life.