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Monday, May 6, 2013

Chevrolet Equinox


The five-seat Chevrolet Equinox is Chevy's entry in the hotly competitive compact crossover market. Like all the major contenders in this large segment, these vehicles substitute for the work that wagons used to do a generation ago. The very wide swath of not-so-rugged crossover wagons includes the perennial category leaders--the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4--as well as the Nissan...


The five-seat Chevrolet Equinox is Chevy's entry in the hotly competitive compact crossover market. Like all the major contenders in this large segment, these vehicles substitute for the work that wagons used to do a generation ago. The very wide swath of not-so-rugged crossover wagons includes the perennial category leaders--the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4--as well as the Nissan Rogue (and Murano), Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Dodge Journey, and Subaru Forester. All have optional all-wheel drive (except the Subaru, which has AWD standard) for those gravel roads and muddy soccer fields, not to mention the security of four driven wheels in snow or rainy weather.

While it shares no body panels, the Chevy Equinox is nearly identical to the GMC Terrain--both vehicles are made by General Motors, and differ mostly in styling, interior, features, and options.

Today's Chevrolet Equinox first went on sale for 2010. It comes with either a four-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, or as a V-6 crossover with an automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive option. It's known for good ride quality; safe, secure handling; and a much improved feature set compared its predecessor. The Equinox's EPA rating of 32 mpg highway is still competitive, even as a new generation of crossovers has emerged.

At the same time, it retains an exceptionally roomy second-row seat, which slides on a track to increase passenger foot room or to boost cargo space in the rear. There is no option for third-row seating, however. Competitive but slightly larger vehicles such as the Dodge Journey and Kia Sorento offer a third-row seat as an option.

The Equinox has seen few major changes in recent model years, although it has received some of the latest connectivity and active-safety features. Those include lane-departure warning and forward collision alert, plus Chevy's MyLink system, for easier hands-free calling or media access. In 2013, the Equinox introduced a combination of MyLink and touch-screen navigation, while a new 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 replaced the 3.0-liter V-6 as the top-level powertrain. A replacement for today's Equinox and Terrain crossovers will likely arrive for the 2015 model year.

With many new luxury features added to the latest Equinox, this is a model that can be a bargain in its base form. Yet it's relatively easy to push its $22,500 base price up near $30,000--where a seven-passenger Chevrolet Traverse wagon might make more sense.

The first generation Equinox debuted in 2005, one of four then-new crossover vehicles that used the same underpinnings. Only the Equinox survives; the other three has passed into history (they were the Saturn Vue, Pontiac Torrent, and Suzuki XL7). That 2005 Equinox waspositioned as a 'just right'-sized crossover utility vehicle--a little larger than compact crossovers like the Ford Escape, but a little smaller than three-row mid-size entries like the Toyota Highlander. That edition of the Equinox was offered with front- or all-wheel drive, and four- or six-cylinder engines, through the 2009 model year. While reviewers appreciated the interior room of the first Equinox, its antiquated, coarse V-6 engine and bland styling were outdone by competitors from Honda, Ford, Toyota and Subaru. In 2008, Chevrolet added a smoother, more powerful V-6 to the Equinox lineup (and to the Pontiac Torrent as well).

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