As one of the first all-new vehicles to appear in GM's showrooms after its apocalyptic implosion, controversy over government assistance, brand-shedding, and gleeful skewering in some quarters, the revamped Chevrolet Equinox is bowing into a very bright spotlight indeed. And matters aren't made any easier by having to roll onto a stage already occupied by the estimable likes of Toyota's RAV-4, Subaru's Forester, and Honda's CRV. Those three small SUVs haven't seriously shared top billing with a Detroit alternative since, well, maybe ever. Is the bow-tie really ready?

Very possibly. The new Equinox is, first of all, quite attractive. Our Ed Loh has suggested that it has an unusually feminine air about it, particularly with its highly styled dash (though I suspect Ed could perceive potential femininity in just about anything). In any event, the Equinox is certainly easy on the eyes, and it's down-right eye-popping when it comes to that aforementioned dash. Unfortunately for GM, this makes for quite a contrast when you park it next to its Lego-block-like GMC sibling, the visually regrettable Terrain.

Another pleasant surprise is how roomy it seems to be inside. I say 'seems' because its interior passenger volume is actually slightly less than the CR-V's, and considerably short of the RAV4's (99.7 cubic feet compared to the Honda's 100.9 and the Toyota's 108.2). Evidently, the design is very effective at creating a psychological sense of roominess because every editor who climbed in insisted it was bigger than the Toyota and Honda (including me).

There's no psycho-trickery about the interior's quietness, though. GM's application of 'quiet glass' (specially laminated to deaden noise transmission), triple door seals, and -- quite a novelty here -- active noise cancellation (where twin microphones perceive noise fluctuations and respond with their opposites through the Equinox's sound system) -- all make the Equinox darn silent for its category.