The Chevrolet Equinox is the car that ushered in the era of the utilitarian Crossover at General Motors, so it is only appropriate that the new model come equipped with certain features that make for a very functional automobile with standard features like a 6 speed automatic transmission, direct injected gasoline engines, XM satellite radio, an iPod input jack, power everything and OnStar roadside assistance. However there is more to the crossover segment than reliability, these are the cars that will take families down the street to soccer practice and across the country to Disney World, so they need to be comfortable, attractive and engaging; especially for the back seat passengers.
Our well equipped 2010 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 2LT also came with some of the more desirable features being offered by GM, like the back up camera with park assist, power tailgate, Vehicle Interface Package that includes Bluetooth, the Chrome Exterior Appearance Package to dress up the outside, the Cargo Management Package that makes storage a snap in the back of the truck and the Rear Seat Entertainment System that includes some of the best designed backrest monitors on any new car today. However our personal favorite was the 18 inch machined aluminum wheels, Chevrolet offers rims as big as 19 inches in diameter, but we didn’t want to be too flashy. Of course, because we are Top Speed, Chevy made sure we tested the 3.0 Liter direct injected V6 that makes 264 HP and 222 lb-ft of torque version that is still able to get 17 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway.
Continued after the jump.
The Equinox is an interesting vehicle because despite its large appearance, it has the footprint of a much smaller vehicle making it one of the easiest big cars to park on the market, and despite the crossover’s rather conservative appearance, the GM design team managed to sneak a few visually appealing touches into the mix. Starting up front, the 2010 Equinox wears the modern Chevrolet cross bar grill that was introduced back with the new Malibu. The front end is devoid of any protruding features, creating a much smoother surface to push through the air, however the chrome trim that surrounds the fog light housing goes a long way to improve the vehicle aesthetically, this theme carries over into the grill opening and window frames.
The other feature that we just couldn’t get enough of were the Equinox’s bulging fenders, not since the last time we watched a round of WRC competition has our editorial staff seen a set of bold blisters on a production car like these, which go a long way adding a muscular tone to the Equinox’s bubbly exterior and framed our car’s 18 inch machined aluminum rims perfectly. Out back the Equinox carries the chrome trend into the center of the tailgate, placing their 21st century emblem smack dab in the middle of a thick bar of the shiny stuff. Our V6 powered Equinox also came with a very simple and good looking dual exhaust with what looks like an imitation diffuser in between the tips, after all you can’t knock the design team for trying to add a little sporting style to the car.
Our only complaint with the Equinox is that on top of an attractive sheet metal structure, Chevrolet has added a few too many soft plastic moldings. Now these may be an affordable approach to adding some last minute lines to the vehicle, but the execution is quite poor. Take the black plastic where the rocker panels would traditionally go, not only do they easily come away from the door, but because they are hollow. After a few years of ownership, the amount of mud caked inside could be enough to make replacing them a good idea.
At first glance we were taken aback by the Equinox’s stylish interior, the first thing to catch our eyes were the 8 way power adjustable two tone leather seats that were accented with colored stitching. The red woven theme continues onto the door cards and the tilt telescope steering wheel just like the various tones and finishes found on the dash and trim. The biggest downfall of the Equinox’ interior is that just like on the outside, the design team chose to go with unattractive plastic in places where a little bit of a softer material would have gone a long way to improving the car’s feel.
For instance it was really nice to see that Chevrolet incorporated a back up camera into the navigation screen, and it was even better when we saw that the lines were moving with the steering wheel. Everything would have been perfect had it not been for the protruding piece of plastic that creates a visor for the LCD monitor. Not only was there plenty of play between the piece and the surrounding dash. Unlike a padded dash, when your fingers come into contact with the hard polymer’s sharp edges, there is just a sense of discomfort.
Aside from the materials selection, the rest of the Equinox’s interior was fantastic. The infotainment system consisted of a premium 8 speaker Pioneer AM/FM/XM radio assisted by an amplifier as well as an equalizer. There were also AUX and USB inputs for your own music storage device as well as voice guided turn by turn navigation, a 40 GB hard drive for storing tunes and a CD/DVD player that will feed images to some of the nicest factory flip up monitors integrated into the front seatbacks that we have seen on any new car. The units are barely noticeable when stowed away, and not obtrusive when opened up, manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and Porsche could learn a thing or two from the men who came up with that design.
One of the nicest features is that when you double click the key fob to unlock the doors, the Equinox will automatically lower all four windows, allowing fresh air to flow throughout the cabin, once you climb inside and turn the key you will see that the Equinox is a great car to drive around town with its elevated seating position and comfortable suspension setup while the power of the V6 makes long highway drives absolutely no problem at all.
Our Equinox was powered by a direct injected 3.0 Liter V6 engine that makes 264 HP and 222 lb-ft of torque connected to a fuel efficient six speed automatic transmission. Our car was an all wheel drive model, so it got an EPA estimated 17 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway, not bad for almost 100 cubic feet of passenger room. However, this particular Equinox is not the most efficient of the bunch, a front wheel drive 2.4 Liter direct injected four cylinder making 182 HP will get as much as 32 MPG on the highway, that is not far off from the government mandated 35 MPG Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations.
All new Chevrolet Equinox’s come with Stabilitrak-stability control standard as well as a few other safety features that will put you mind at ease while on the road; like a tire pressure monitoring system as well as dual front, two side and a head curtain airbag all in the interest of occupant’s safety.
Why to buy:
The Chevrolet Equinox is the perfect new car to consider if you have a growing family and have to trade in your sports car for something more practical. If you are looking for something with more cargo capacity, room for the kids and all their soccer equipment without having to upgrade to a full size SUV then the Equinox is a good bet for you.
Our car came with a few pricey options, but they all had a big impact on the Equinox’s appeal: the V6 engine was an extra $1500, leather seating was about another grand, the large sunroof will set you back about $800 while the very convenient remote activated power lift gate is only about $500. However the bargain of the bunch were the optional machined aluminum 18 inch wheels that only added an extra $250 to the invoice bringing the total for out 2010 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 2LT to $36,065.
Why not to buy:
Despite having a 21st century V6 under the hood, the Equinox won’t set any performance records, and if you are a stickler for fine finishes then Chevrolet’s attempt to distract your eyes with a few nice touches like the two tone seats and red stitching in the steering wheel, but in the end, the Equinox’s design team’s choice of materials left a bit more to be desired.
If you are looking for a well crossover then other models you might want to consider looking at are the long time favorite Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav-4 or the made in America Ford Escape.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
Crossovers aren’t necessarily our preferred method of transportation here at Top Speed, we’d rather see a supercharger mounted atop our V6 and an even wider set of flared fenders, but to be perfectly honest, the Chevrolet Equinox is good enough as it comes from the factory, sure we’d like to see a bit more attention paid to the interior, but the Equinox has everything that you need for the perfect family hauler already inside. From the high tech creature comforts on the inside to the tasteful touches to the exterior, the Equinox is a well rounded automobile that offers plenty of bang for your buck.