After 2 years on the market the Chevrolet Equinox is due for a little refreshing. Some of the welcome changes include standard Bluetooth connectivity across all models and a standard back up camera on the 1LT model and above. The standard low res graphic display has been replaced by an attractive high res full color model on all models but the LS. The Equinox faces stiff competition from all sides in the coming year, especially with Ford’s new Escape on the way. The Equinox still represents a great value for money with its long list of standard features and class leading quality.
On the inside the interior still out shines its competitors. The interior is beautifully designed and well put together. The dash flows nicely into the centre stack and console. Heating and ventilation controls are easy to find and are simple to use. All but the base LS models come with climate control. One of the most useful features is the available back up camera. It is all most a must on the Equinox because the rear visibility is not good.
On the road you will not be pushed back into your seat by the Equinox’s 182 horsepower base 4 cylinder, but it is enough for most daily use. Most will not opt for the 264 horsepower V6 engine due to the price of fuel. With either the front wheel or all-wheel drive system the 2.4L 4 cylinder returns impressive fuel economy. When you don’t need the full power of the engine you can activate “eco” mode with a button in front of the shifter. When this mode is engaged the engine does not produce as much power but the fuel economy is improved.
The Equinox has the rare ability to deliver a premium SUV feel at bargain prices. GM says the glass is laminated to reduce noise like the windows found on Buicks and Cadillacs. The steering is not what you would call responsive but it is smooth. It has the driving experience of a mid-size sedan even though it is a large vehicle. The Equinox is easy to merge and to park. In past years there have been complaints about the blind spots in the rear. To try and make up for this Chevrolet has put in small convex mirrors inside the wing mirrors to cover the blind spots. This seems to work reasonably well.
The all-wheel drive system responds well to changes in road surface and is totally automatic not requiring driver input. The all-wheel drive is remarkably advanced for a vehicle in this price range. For normal driving it splits the torque 90% to the front wheels and 10% rear ones. This is designed to improve fuel economy. In the event of a loss of traction or hard cornering the system can apply up to 30% torque to each wheel in a fraction of a second. The result is a very capable all wheel drive system. During the road test the Equinox was accelerated quickly from a standing stop in snow and took off with all most no wheel spin.
The bottom line: while not cheap the Equinox offers good value, great fuel economy and lots of space. If you aren’t tuned off by the badge it’s a great buy.