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 2008 Equinox, Chevrolet has a major player, a vehicle larger than the redesigned 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 2008 Chevrolet Equinox offers some of the best passenger and cargo space in its class, as well a standard V6 engine. 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 minimal feedback of the electrically-assisted power steering of the LS, LT and LTZ trim levels 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 New for 2008
Two new trims, the Sport and LTZ, join the Equinox line. The Sport trim features a 264 horsepower V6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission and a sport-tuned suspension, while the LTZ adds a generous helping of chrome trim and interior luxury features.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 Equinox also corners reasonably well, while remaining comfortable and quiet on the highway. For those drivers who may be more enthusiastic, one less-than-appealing aspect of the driving experience is the electric power steering system of the LS, LT and LTZ trims, which offers little feedback and an unnatural feel; we prefer the hydraulic system of the Sport trim level. And, 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 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is enormous. Its wheelbase is nearly 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 2008 Chevrolet Equinox LS features air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single CD and six speakers, power door locks/windows/mirrors, remote keyless entry, 16-inch aluminum wheels, 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 and head-curtain airbags.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. Buyers who can afford the Sport model get a smoother and more efficient 3.6-liter V6 featuring variable valve timing, dual overhead cams and a hydraulic power steering system for improved steering feedback.
185 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
210 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (FWD), 17/24 (AWD)
264 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
250 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 (FWD), 16/24 (AWD)
The Chevrolet Equinox LS' Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $23,000, while the LTZ starts just over $28,000. All-wheel drive adds about another $1,500 to the price and a fully-loaded Sport tops out around $35,000. 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.