By KBB.com Editors
Amid GM's imposing SUV and pickup truck fleet is a vehicle massive not so much in size, but in importance. Honda, Toyota and Ford have tended to dominate the compact SUV market, and Chevrolet needs to make a big splash. With the Equinox, Chevrolet has a major player, a vehicle larger and more refined than the aging Ford Escape and offering a V6 engine, an important feature not found on the Honda CR-V. Available in front or all-wheel drive, with a wide and roomy interior and loaded with standard and optional features demanded by today's modern mobile family, the Equinox is one of Chevrolet's best offerings.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need power and room, the Equinox offers the most passenger and cargo space in its class, as well as the most powerful standard engine in the entire compact SUV category. The muscular good looks, comfy seats and long list of optional features are just icing on the cake.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're enthusiastic about the driving experience, the lack of a manual shifter and the numb electric power steering may not appeal to you. And the Equinox's well laid-out interior begs for more in the way of color and contrast.What's Significant About This Car?
Standard safety features include the StabiliTrak stability control system, four-wheel disc brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system. A revised instrument panel includes a new instrument cluster with a 20-setting Driver Information Center, and the Equinox's rear seat receives a folding armrest with built-in cup holders.Driving It Driving Impressions
Put a heavy foot on the pedal and the Equinox takes it as a command, not a suggestion. While pulling away from a stop or negotiating slower traffic on a two-lane road, the 3.4-liter V6 always delivers plenty of power. The maxi mini-SUV also corners reasonably well, while remaining comfortable and quiet on the highway. The glaring weak spot from behind the steering wheel for aggressive drivers is the steering itself. The electric power steering system offers little feedback and an unnatural feel, while a 40-foot turning diameter can make the Equinox seem like a full-size SUV in just about any parking lot.Favorite Features
Sliding Rear Seat
Slide it forward for more room in the cargo area. Then slide it back for more rear-seat legroom than even the biggest SUVs.
Multi-Level Cargo Area
A movable rear shelf allows for two levels of cargo or, for tailgate parties, two levels of chips, dips and dogs.
The increased length differentiating the Equinox from the outside also helps set the not-so-compact SUV apart inside. Generous headroom and legroom complement a clever sliding rear seat to maximize passenger or cargo space. The empty space is the high point in an interior marked by ill-fitting plastic, ho-hum cloth upholstery and a general lack of sophistication.Exterior
In compact SUV terms, the Chevy Equinox is enormous. Its wheelbase is a full 10- inches longer than a Honda CR-V's and just a half-inch shorter than Chevy's own TrailBlazer mid-size SUV. Overall length falls an inch shy of the mid-size Ford Explorer. The Equinox is unmistakable as a Chevy with big, gold Chevrolet bowtie badges front and rear, plus angular styling that immediately evokes the automaker's Silverado and Avalanche pickups.Notable Standard Equipment
The Equinox LS has air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, height-adjustable driver's seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, sliding/split-folding rear seat and a multi-tier cargo storage system. Standard safety features include dual-stage front airbags, StabiliTrak, four-wheel disc brakes and a tire pressure monitor.Notable Optional Equipment
Popular Equinox options include leather seating, heated front seats, six-way power driver's seat, AM/FM/6CD/MP3 audio system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power moonroof, 17-inch wheels, OnStar, DVD navigation, remote start, electrochromic rearview mirror, head-curtain airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes (ABS).Under the Hood
Yes, the 3.4-liter pushrod engine is an old design, but it works well. The nearly vibration-free Equinox runs smoothly without protest and is jackrabbit quick when it comes to crossing crowded intersections. Passing at high speed is another matter as the engine seems to lose some of its kick past the 70-mile per hour mark. One of the nicest features of this engine is it won't bankrupt you at the gas pump.
185 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
210 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 19/25 (AWD)
The Chevrolet Equinox LS has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $22,465, while the LT model has an MSRP of $23,265. All-wheel drive adds another $1,500 to the price. Before you begin comparison shopping, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price which shows what others in your area are paying for their vehicles. As for resale, Kelley Blue Book projects the Equinox to retain an average resale value, on par with the Ford Escape and Mitsubishi Outlander, but well below the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.