Chevrolet Equinox

by The Car Family

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As part of a growing trend of trimmer SUVs, Chevrolet’s new Equinox moves closer to the front of the class with this noble effort that reflects the growing trend that Americans seem to prefer in their SUVs; height and fuel economy. Chevrolet has hit this mark dead on and can now go head to head with smaller SUVs from Asia and America.

Clearly, this is one of Chevrolet’s finest SUVs especially considering the price, efficiency, and nearly 64 cubic feet of cargo space. The styling and interior treatments are also near the top of the class as well. Although it is lacking the third seat option, there is little that the Equinox does not do well for the money.

We liked the base LS model with the lower priced trim level called the 1LT. You get a goodly amount of safety features from airbags nearly everywhere to stability control for under $23,000. You can get options such as a rear-seat entertainment system, but the price can easily top $30,000 if you’re not careful.

The base engine, although sorely tested when driving in mountains, does well overall with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and its 182 horsepower. The optional 3.0-liter V6 with its 264 hp is fairly frisky, but more thirsty.

Mom’s view: Looks big and drives big, but this Chevrolet’s best feature is its excellent range which can be over 500 miles in favorable conditions. The vision to the front, sides, and rear take a while to get used to and I would look for a rear view back-up camera for sure. The hood falls away sharply making it difficult to judge where the front bumper is when parking. The B pillar also blocks vision to the side.

The interior has a clean design that has a modern appearance and the GPS and the stereo were excellent The back seat was very creature comfortable and the reclining split rear seat also folds down without much effort and leaves a flat floor. You must order the $495 power rear liftgate as reaching up to close the rear hatch is a reach, no pun intended, for those who are 5”2”or closer to the ground.

Dad’s view: The plus for buying an Equinox is simply the extraordinary gas mileage. In mixed driving we easily got 26 mpg, and the government claims over 30 mpg on the highway. Both the standard engine and the optional 264-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 have direct injection and a six-speed automatic transmission. Freeway entry ramps didn’t pose a problem, but don’t challenge any 18-wheelers.

Young working woman’s view: Skip the Equinox and get its twin sister the GMC Terrain. For almost the same cost you get a much better-equipped SUV. However, the Terrain isn’t as sharp looking. The ride is very relaxed even when challenged by highway corners. Rough roads can prove to be tiresome as it does ride a tad stiff legged. Again, I like the Terrain better in terms of ride comfort and there are more family options with the GMC.

Analyzing computer data makes you a bit more objective when driving a car as new to the world as the Equinox. I found, as its name implies, this Chevrolet to be a happy medium type of vehicle. It is a SUV for those who really don’t need a three ton SUV and the expense that comes with them, but still enjoy the high seating position and ability to haul trailers.

Young working male’s view: Making open sourced computers and servers two things are apparent. First, you need the ability to expand, secondly, you need it in a smaller package. The Equinox does just the opposite. It offers a larger size, but no extra interior room. It just looks like you are getting more for your money. The reliability data has shown this Chevrolet to be average and the three year, limited mileage warranty may be an area to be discussed when ordering this vehicle. My experience has been that most problems occur within the first year.

EPA estimates are startling. The two wheel drive, four cylinder model is reporting a 22/32 mile per gallon range and that beats every other competitor. Even with all wheel drive the Equinox is superior. Although this rig is too large for me, it has an appeal that far outstrips its price. I would certainly order the optional backup camera as there isn’t much vision rearward. The screen for this unit is in the mirror, which really makes sense, although it could be larger, but for under $350 it is a bargain. The two small rear monitors for the entertainment system work fine, but the cost is nearly $1300. The GPS is sophisticated with a a 40GB hard drive to store your personal music selections, but these two add over $2000 to the bottom line. A must have for those of us who need to stay linked is the $500 Vehicle Interface Package. This package provides a USB port for connecting a your iPod or whatever to the stereo and also adds remote start and Bluetooth compatibility.

Family conference: The bottom line is whether or not you are daring enough to leave the arms of the competition in favor of this new Chevrolet? We think that if you are used to driving a SUV this one could well win you over and clearly moves the Equinox to the top of the four-cylinder class.