All-new Chevy Equinox leads segment in efficiency, space
April 20, 2010
BY JOHN STEIN SearchChicago-Autos Editor
The 2010 Chevy Equinox is all new and a player in the highly competitive small crossover segment. Exterior looks are impressive while I-4 and V-6 drivetrain options offer owners good fuel efficiency or bigger horsepower pep.
My Equinox tester was the entry model LT. This frontwheel-drive four-cylinder has a base price of $25,445, but mine topped out at $26,435 with options. This base price is the first thing that might catch a potential buyer's attention - that is, until they get a look at the flowing, contemporary exterior style.
The Equinox looks bigger than most in this segment because, well, it is. Chevy designers did a wonderful job of using the Equinox's edgy design scheme to accentuate its length.
The wheel wells have athletic-looking flares while the belt line that runs from the A pillar back through the rear taillight draws your eye all the way down the vehicle.
Big 17-inch aluminum rims are standard for Equinox, which gives it an impressive, aggressive stance. My tester had side rails for the roof rack that again framed the vehicle up top from the B pillar back. Dark, tinted windows gave my tester a sporty look.
Inside the cabin you will find a roomy interior setting that is comfortable, offers great visibility for the driver and outstanding room for rear seat passengers. My base model had what Chevy deemed "premium" cloth seats.
The seats offered fine support but the cloth had a bit of a sheen that was less attractive than leather (but I suppose that would defeat the base model pricing strategy).
A handsome dash offers an attractive array of gauges. My base tester did have eight-way power seats and heated side mirrors as well as a great-sounding eight-speaker Pioneer audio system. This audio system delivers crisp digital sound and accommodates iPod as well as XM satellite radio (subscription sold separately).
The most impressive part of the Equinox is the all-new Multi-Flex rear seat system that allows for a 60/40 split, threeposition recline and great legroom for passengers; in fact, the rear passengers benefit the most from the larger footprint of the Equinox. The Multi-Flex system lets you store the rear seats into the front seatbacks.
This delivers big utility spaces inside.
An optional feature that was on my tester Equinox was the $495 power lift gate.
The lift gate buttons are located on the key fob, the door well of the lift gate and on the overhead console. This power lift gate was especially convenient and a notable feature on this crossover.
The technology that has gone into the 2010 Chevy four-cylinder engine is so advanced it nearly benchmarks the segment. The four-cylinder's transmission mate, a highly efficient six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift modes, is impressive. This manual range allows the driver to downshift before accelerating in highway merging and passing maneuvers. A six-speed automatic in an I-4 at this level of the segment was unheard of just five years ago. The Equinox has an all-wheel-drive option and a 3.0-liter V-6 with 17/25 mpg.
The most significant thing about the efficiency of General Motors' new 2.4-liter I-4 has to do with direct injection, which positively affects performance and fuel economy. Direct injection is efficient, delivering the gas straight into the combustion rather than first mixing the fuel with air in the intake manifold.
Fuel economy on the 182-horsepower four-cylinder is Environmental Protection Agency rated at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The I-4's torque is rated at 172 pound-feet. I found the I-4 Equinox to be a responsive drive that just didn't have much pick up - especially when fully loaded with passengers. With good fuel economy there has to be a trade-off and power is just that. If you rarely will have the vehicle loaded, then I recommend this drivetrain configuration.2010 CHEVROLET EQUINOX LTENGINE:
182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinderTRANSMISSION:
front-wheel driveFUEL ECONOMY:
22 city/32 highwayBASE PRICE: