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2010 Chevy Equinox

21st July 2009

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ

Chevrolet’s Equinox was launched for the 2005 model year in 2004. Like many of GM’s entries into new segments, this one was “a day late and a dollar short”. Designed to compete against more established small SUVs, like the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V, the 2005 Equinox was larger on the outside and smaller on the inside than its intended competitors. It also only offered a V6 engine, while all the others had a 4-cylinder engine available. This increased costs and provided worse fuel economy than the competitors’. Interior space was also sub-par, especially in the rear cargo area. A clever shelf could be added to give 2 stories of storage, but the mechanism intruded too much on the space, even when not in use.

For 2010, the Equinox is brand new, and I recently had the opportunity to drive one for several hundred miles. The new Equinox is better than its predecessor in every way, starting with its looks. The 2010 has a better all-around look, as opposed to the cobbled-together look of the previous version. The interior is equally handsome, especially on the LT2 version with leather seats that I drove. The LT2 package includes remote start, Bluetooth, 8-way power driver seat, automatic climate control, foglamps, USB – among other goodies. This one included the 3.0L V6 engine with direct injection, good for 264hp. The base I4 gets best-in-class economy of 22 city / 32 highway. The V6 is rated at 17/25. It drives very smoothly, thanks in part to the 6-speed tranny and the independent suspension at all 4 corners. The kids enjoyed the rear-seat DVD player, which includes dual screens on the backs of the front seats. Their mom and I enjoyed listening to the iPod or XM Radio while they were watching the movies. Our tester was also equipped with a DVD navigation system to help us find our way.

The fit and finish was very good, with no noticeable gaps or color mismatches. The interior was finished in very attractive beige leather, and the seats were very comfortable and supportive for the long drive.

Gripes? Sure, there were a few, notably the IBM Selectric-like array of buttons on the dash for controlling the radio, navigation and climate. While I complained a little about the buttons at first, I quickly became used to them and their layout. Call it a B.

Another issue was the software that controls the navigation system. Having used several systems in the past (both portable and built-in), this one has a “feature” that makes no sense. When a destination is programmed, the system constantly updates the miles and time to the destination, like most or all other systems. However, this system, remarkably, updates based on some running average of the speed you are traveling. For example, if we had 120 miles/2 hours to go and encountered bad traffic that brought us to a stop on the highway, the 2 hours would gradually creep up until we were able to resume highway speeds. Other systems assume that you will drive the speed limit the entire trip, so it is never possible for the remaining time to go up, as long as you stay on your route. This makes more sense unless the ETA is tied into live traffic conditions, which is not the case here. The system is linked to the XM traffic service and thoughtfully tried to re-route us around an accident, which we ignored to our dismay.

The cargo area handled all of our bags with ease (not that we had much for a long weekend).

Overall, we thought the 2010 Equinox is a very strong entry in the small-ish SUV/crossover segment. It’s attractive and comfortable with enough power from either engine and delivers best-in-class fuel economy with the base I4 engine. What more could you want?

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10


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