With more than 84,000 sales in its first year, the Chevy Equinox quickly established itself as one of the standouts of the compact SUV segment in 2004. Sleek styling, available all-wheel drive, innovative interior storage and generous rear-seat legroom comfort contributed to Equinox’s rookie-of-the-year status, along with anticipated quadruple five-star government ratings for frontal and side impacts (based on 2005 Equinox NHTSA testing).
Chevrolet Equinox is significantly larger, more versatile and efficient than most competitors, while delivering a confident driving experience infused with sophistication not typically found in the segment. Changes for the 2006 model year reflect refinements designed to enhance Equinox’s convenience and sophisticated good looks. A body-color front fascia is now standard on LS models, giving them a more upscale appearance. Body-color outside mirrors are new on LT models, further enhancing their premium styling. Two new exterior colors also are available: Black Amethyst Metallic and Bermuda Green Metallic (premium paint color).
Inside, a revised climate control system features new round knobs and improved system performance. The shifter knob also is revised, while the passenger-side air bag cover is now ebony to match the upper instrument panel. The convenience of available heated front seats has been added to cloth interiors, too, with control switches relocated to the instrument panel.
Powertrain and Performance
The five-passenger Equinox is one of the few compact SUVs equipped with a standard V-6 engine. It is powered by GM’s 3400 3.4L V-6, rated at 185 horsepower (138 kw) and 210 lb.-ft. (285 Nm) of torque. Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds. This durable overhead valve engine is coupled to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. It’s a powertrain combination that delivers smooth, strong acceleration along with reduced highway cruising engine speeds for excellent fuel economy. EPA fuel economy estimates for FWD models are 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway; and for AWD models, 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
Customers can also opt for an assuring, on-demand all-wheel-drive system, which delivers power to the front wheels during normal driving conditions but seamlessly transfers power to the rear wheels if front wheel slippage is detected. While primarily intended for on-road use, this AWD system also provides excellent traction and mobility for off-road use.
Design and Equipment
To make way for larger passengers or cargo, the 60/40 split-folding multi-flex rear seat can slide nearly 8 inches fore and aft. The front passenger seat folds flat, further extending cargo room length. When folded, the hard front seatback can be used as a table or desktop.
Equinox has a comprehensive list of standard comfort and convenience features, including air conditioning, 16-inch wheels, multi-flex sliding and split-folding rear seat, flat folding front passenger seat, manual height adjuster on the driver seat, daytime running lamps, folding outside rearview mirrors, power door locks, mirror and windows, remote keyless entry, dual front map lights, cruise control and AM/FM stereo with CD player.
Available features include leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, heated front seats, six-way power driver seat with manual lumbar adjustment, electrochromic inside rearview mirror with temperature and compass, redundant radio controls on the steering wheel, power sunroof with shade, 17-inch aluminum wheels, OnStar, six-disc CD changer, single-CD with MP3 player; and XM Satellite Radio (continental U.S. only).
Equinox has the longest wheelbase in its class and is built on a solid body architecture that helps provide a confident driving experience. The structure is complemented by an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a four-link coil spring layout in the rear, for a smooth, comfortable ride typically associated with larger SUVs. The rear suspension has a trailing arm as well as three additional locating links to facilitate a low, wide load floor and maximize rear passenger space.
Electric power steering is standard on all models and helps provide precise steering control and performance, as well as enabling improved fuel economy because there is no engine-driven power steering pump. An electronic control unit, calibrated for a variety of desired performance characteristics, controls an electric motor mounted adjacent to the steering column to provide the precise amount of assist needed for any given driving situation. Its variable-ratio steering delivers a responsive feel during highway driving and low effort for easier parking.
All Equinox models also are equipped with vented front disc brakes with dual piston calipers and rear brake drums. Anti-lock brakes are now standard on all models, with FWD models equipped with a traction control feature.
Safety and Security
Dual-stage frontal air bags and safety belt pretensioners complement the strong safety cage construction of Equinox. Dual-stage frontal air bags are designed to help reduce the risk of air bag-induced injury. Pretensioners in the outboard front safety belt system deploy at the same time as the frontal air bags to take up slack in the safety belt webbing.
Pretensioners also help reduce the amount of occupant movement in the event of a crash to help reduce the risk of injury.
Optional head curtain side air bags act like a protective curtain when deployed, unfolding from the roof rail between the A-pillar and side window header. When the bag deploys in a moderate to severe side impact, it is angled somewhat toward the window to help provide protection for front- and rear-seat outboard passengers.
Rear seats are equipped with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system anchors for child safety seats. This system provides two lower anchors and a top tether anchor in all three rear seat positions to be used to secure a child seat to the vehicle seat structure. These anchorages are designed to make it easier to properly install compatible child safety seats.