Chevrolet Equinox Review – Motor Point
Chevrolet Equinox SUV Road Test
Replacing the Tracker the Chevrolet Equinox is roomier than anything in its class and offers the proven 3.4-litre V-6 that develops 185 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 210 foot-pounds of torque at 3800 rpm. It is a tidy package and is certain to draw attention from the SUV buyer looking for economy and utility with a starting price of about $22000 US. The main problem with the Equinox is the pricing. It is marketed directly at the segment leaders from Toyota and Ford and yet does not offer these vehicle’s proven attributes such as resale. In fact when fully loaded the Equinox’s price runs up and over its big sister the Trail Blazer.
The Equinox replaces the slow selling Tracker and is a much more competent and complete vehicle. It is a class leader in room and rides well. Interestingly it is the first car-based sport utility in Chevy’s history using the same chassis as General Motors’ mini-vans. It is available in two-wheel or all-wheel drive with the latter system diverting power to the rear wheels when needed. The all wheel drive system uses a viscous coupling making the system more for rain and snow than serious off-roading.
Mom’s view: The cupholders are awkward to use the switch gear feels cheap the rear seats are too hard and there is torque steer with the front wheel drive model we tested. Other than that Chevrolet has created a very nice little SUV with sensible gas mileage and a lot of features that make it a nice companion on shopping forays. It is very easy to drive and the road feel is well controlled. Unfortunately the turning radius is way too large.
Safety wise the Equinox offers ABS dual front air bags safety belt pretensioners and optional roof-rail air bags. It also has daylight running lights and good visibility in all directions.
Options include heated seats a leather interior that looks too plain but is a bargain at about US$500 power front seats and a six-disc CD player with MP3 option. Everyone gets the nice shifting five-speed automatic transmission. Other options include premium sound with an MP3 player and an in-dash six-CD changer XM satellite radio OnStar heated front seats with driver-side power adjustment leather upholstery traction control and a power moonroof.
To me the Equinox was an exceptionally useful vehicle worthy of consideration if you must have a SUV style transportation. If you shop wisely and watch your options you can get one the way I like it with satellite radio OnStar and heated seats under $25000 US.
Dad’s view: What is exceptional about the Equinox is the cargo room. Not only is there 69 cubic feet of it but Chevrolet has made the right decision by sacrificing some of the space to place the spare tire inside. This is a vast and important improvement over the competition that hangs their extra tire on the rear hatch door making it heavy to open blocking rear visibility and encouraging vandals. The Equinox does have intrusive rear strut towers that narrow the cargo area and that could be a problem for hauling larger items.
What is not exceptional about the Equinox is its powerplant. The 3.4 engine has enough power when empty offering 185 made in China horsepower but when fully loaded it just is not up to the task on steep inclines and hills. The Vortec engine’s 210 foot-pounds of torque is going to be hard pressed when using the Equinox maximum towing capability of 3500 pounds.
We think the Equinox should be available with the 3.5 liter that is used in the new Malibu. The reason is not just power but the fact that General Motors Saturn brand is offering the smaller VUE with a 250 horsepower V6 for nearly the same money so why not an optional 200 horsepower Equinox engine? I want to make it clear that the 3.4 is a good engine especially in the midrange area with the nicely reacting five speed automatic transmission keeping the Equinox frisky.
Of course the 3.4 engine has never been known to be a quiet but the coarse sound only comes through at higher rpms. I would guess that the biggest complaint is the torque steer. I used regular unleaded fuel and got about 22 mpg. The tank is about 17 gallons and so you have a range of about 350 miles before having to take out another loan to pay for the sky-high gas prices that no one outside the White House can understand.
Young businesswoman’s view: Here’s the question that needs to be answered. Why buy a Chevrolet Trail Blazer when the Equinox does everything better except for off roading and heavy towing? The Equinox is more environmentally friendly is simpler to park and much easier on your credit limits. I found the front wheel drive Equinox both practical and fairly pretty.
I like the way you sit in the Equinox and how it quickly makes you feel at home. The position is very car like and the doors open wide to allow easy access in front or back making it ideal for those who have spinal problems or are handicapped.
Stopping is good and the four-wheel independent suspension provide plenty of softness thanks to the combination of a unitized body with full-length frame rails and isolated subframes to reduce harshness. It works and the MacPherson strut front suspension and rear coil springs seem to offer the ride quality most people like in such vehicles. The Equinox has vented front disc brakes with dual piston calipers and drum brakes in the back and they work satisfactorily. The pedal feel is a bit numb but light years ahead of the Dodge Durango’s that we just tested.
My experience with the Equinox was very positive with most of the negatives centered around the feel of the control levers and buttons the position of the parking brake on the right side of the driver’s seat and the window switch location at the bottom on the dash extension. For me the bottom line is that this is a tall station wagon for those who like the higher seating position and the trendy nature of SUVs.
Unemployed young male’s view: The back seats were too hard but you can partial adjust the rake and the feature I really did like was the way you can slide them seven-inches forward or back to give you more legroom or cargo room. The 60/40 split rear seats easily fold down so you can make a fairly level rear cargo hold. You don’t even have to remove the headrests which is great for such a tidy sized SUV. Also you can fold down the passenger seat to carry longer objects. I liked this feature because most people are either hauling cargo or people and with the ability to move the seats you can maximize the interior for your needs.
Handling is fairly good for such a tall vehicle. But beware the emotionless steering makes it easy to turn too sharply and the Equinox as well as all SUVs is top heavy and does not react well to sudden turns. The Chevrolet’s long wheelbase makes for a more relaxed ride over rough highways. Indeed the Equinox handled bumpy roads far better than the new Dodge Durango we just reviewed although the Dodge had a tighter turning radius despite being much longer.
Enjoyable matter-of-fact thrifty and functional the Equinox only lacks some performance sparkly to kindly my interest.
Family conference: This is not the quietest not the quickest not the most efficient not the best handling not the least expensive not the best off-road not the strongest small SUV and yet the Equinox is remarkably competent and deserving of attention. This Chevrolet takes the middle ground in a competitive sales niche and would be a second choice in this segment only because of the limits of its engine. The Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute have more power but don’t have the useful interior features or the quiet ride of the Chevrolet. If you opt for all wheel drive and other upgrades the price can surge past US$28000. So come to the dealership prepared for what you truly need and don’t be afraid to act fast because it’s this years model meaning you have a free year of use before depreciation takes a real hit.
Got it Right: Interior space ride and handling spare tire location easy to use storage areas seating position
Needs improvement: Pricing interior materials torque steer window control location limited engine selection turning radius
Written by The Car Family
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