PROS Passenger and cargo room, Smooth engines, Car-like ride, Good fuel economy
CONS Overboosted electric steering on four cylinder, Large turning radius
General Motor's Chevrolet division completely redesigned its midsize crossover-utility vehicle for 2010. Though exterior dimensions change littler, the new Equinox sports new styling, more powerful engines and lots of new features.
Equinox remains a four-door crossover wagon that's available with front- or all-wheel drive. It seats five on front buckets and a three-place rear bench seat that retains its unique eight-inch fore-and-aft adjustment to balance the need for rear-seat leg room and cargo space. Equinox competes with vehicles like the Dodge Journey, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Murano, and Toyota RAV4.
Four trim levels are offered: LS, 1LT, 2LT, and LTZ. Standard on all is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Optional on all but the LS is a 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Both engines are new this year and each teams with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, hill-ascent control, tire-pressure monitor, daytime running lights, and dual-front, front-side, and curtain-side airbags with rollover deployment. A rear-view camera and rear-obstacle-detection system are available.
The front-drive LS lists for $22,440 and includes air conditioning, OnStar assistance system with one-year service, tilt-telescope steering wheel, cruise control, driver-seat power height and lumbar adjustment, center console, adjustable and reclining split folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with satellite radio and digital-media player connection, trip computer, variable-intermittent wipers, illuminated visor mirrors, rear defogger, variable-intermittent rear wiper/washer, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, 225/65R17 tires, and alloy wheels.
The front-drive 1LT (or more properly the LT with 1LT package) lists for $23,360 and adds to the LS heated power mirrors, compass, floormats, rear privacy glass, and roof rails. The $25,445 front-drive 2LT adds to the 1LT automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, eight-way power driver seat, Pioneer sound system with ipod adapter, Bluetooth cell-phone link, rear-view camera, automatic day/night rearview mirror, remote engine start, and fog lights.
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ
Base Price: $28,045
As-Tested Price: $33,025
Built in Ontario, Canada.
Audio System with navigation and rear-seat entertainment
Engine: DOHC 2.4-liter I4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: front-wheel drive
The line-topping LTZ starts at $28,045 and adds to the 2LT rear-obstacle-detection system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, memory system, cargo cover, power liftgate, and roof rack. All-wheel-drive is optional on all models and adds $1750.
Options include Navigation system with voice recognition and hard drive, rear-seat entertainment system, and chrome alloy wheels. The Equinox shares engine and chassis with the new GMC Terrain and is assembled in Ontario, Canada. All models have a $745 destination charge.
Get Up and Go Both engines provide adequate acceleration from a standstill. The V6 has stronger highway passing response and is better suited to the slightly heavier all-wheel-drive model.
Chevy claims that the four-cylinder models run from 0-60 mph in less than nine seconds and that V6 models can accomplish the same feat in less than eight seconds. Those numbers are on par with others in the class but certainly don't position Equinox as one of the quicker midsize crossovers.
While the new engines aren't significantly more powerful than last year's V6s, they are considerably smoother than the engines they replace. Both at idle and in hard acceleration, the four and six as refined as any in the class. In addition, the six-speed automatic upshifts smoothly and downshifts quickly in passing situations.
Equinox's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for heavy-duty off-road driving. Still, it does a more-than-adequate job of limiting wheel spin on slippery roads and should be up to the task when called upon to battle a Chicago winter.
EPA fuel economy numbers are quite impressive. The front-drive four-cylinder is rated at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The city number is among the best in the class and the highway rating bests the Ford Escape Hybrid.
But the proof is in the puddin' and this is one case where Equinox really delivers. In daily suburban commuting the front-drive four-cylinder is likely to yield about 25 mpg--quite impressive for a midsize crossover. V6 models will likely net better than 20 mpg in similar driving.
On the Road Chevrolet engineers took criticism of the 2009 Equinox' ride quality to heart when then set up the '10 model. Gone are any hints of wallow or queasiness. Yes, the new model has a suspension supple enough to absorb potholes and road imperfections, but it doesn't rebound and bob when the road grows rough like the old model.
The ride is firmer to a point but never grows harsh or busy. Compared to other compact-to-midsize crossovers the Equinox rides with the composure and confidence that's more akin to a passenger car than a sport-utility vehicle. One downside is a larger-than-expected turning circle, which can make Equinox difficult to maneuver in close quarters.
Though no sports car, The '10 Equinox is considerably more athletic from a driver's perspective. Body lean is modest and the tires have good grip in corners. If you throw Equinox around in a fast corner, you can induce a bit of understeer and some traditional SUV bounce.
Regardless of model, the brakes are strong and the pedal has a nice progressive feel that makes smooth stops a snap. Four-cylinders get electric steering while V6 models get traditional hydraulically boosted steering. The electric steering is overboosted and doesn't have good on-center feel. The hydraulic steering is has a very natural feel and a meaty heft.
Interior noise levels are among the lowest in the class. Wind rush is nicely muted and the engines are nearly silent when cruising. Tire noise can be a problem on grooved concrete pavement, but that's not uncommon for wagon-bodied vehicles.
NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2010 Chevrolet Equinox
|Front Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Front Impact, Passenger ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Rear Passenger ||5 stars|
|Rollover Resistance ||NA|
Behind the Wheel The 2010 Equinox sports an interior that leaps and bounds ahead of the previous model in terms of design and elegance. The design is modern without being overbearing or stylized. Large, easy-to-read gauges face the driver from behind a meaty steering wheel. Audio and climate controls are placed high on the center stack. Ancillary controls are well placed and clearly marked. Opting for the optional navigation system complicates things a bit, but not to the point where operation is a distraction.
Front-seat passengers are treated to ample head and leg room. Seats are supportive and comfortable--surprisingly so, as some competitors have seats that seem to be a bit budget grade. Outward visibility is good. The driving position is somewhat upright but still comfortable.
Rear-passenger space continues to be an Equinox virtue thanks to the sliding rear seat. Positioned all the way back leg and knee room is simply cavernous. Even positioned well forward, Equinox has more rear-seat room than many competitors. Seat cushions seem more comfortable than before and the floor is nearly flat, making three-across seating possible.
Cargo space is impressive for the class, but Equinox could us a covered cargo-floor storage bin to hide things like laptops or handbags. The tailgate is wide and, when equipped with the power liftgate, features two opening settings. In cabin storage is generous with lots of open and covered bins and large door map pockets.
Bottom Line Forget any preconceptions you have about Chevrolet, the 2010 Equinox is a world-class crossover. From the elegant interior to the refined engines, to the impressive fuel economy, Chevy has it covered.
Compared to direct competitors at Ford, Honda and Toyota, the new '10 Equinox feels more refined and modern. Passenger and cargo space place it in a happy middle ground between compact and midsize, allowing it to attract buyers from both segments. Key to this positioning are the sliding rear seats and Chevrolet was wise to retain that feature from the previous model.
Another nice touch is the availability of four- or six-cylinder power in just about every model. That way, buyers who want a lot of features don't have to pay for a V6 when they want the economy of a four. Conversely, those wanting more power but less features don't have to pay for things they don't want.
Combine all of these features with class competitive pricing and you have a sure-fire winner in the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox.