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 2009 Equinox, Chevrolet has a major player, a vehicle larger than the redesigned Ford Escape and offering a V6 engine, an important feature not found with 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 2009 Equinox is one of Chevrolet's best offerings.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need power and room, the 2009 Chevrolet Equinox offers some of the best passenger and cargo space in its class, as well as 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. Unlike many competitors, including the Saturn VUE, the Equinox is not offered as a hybrid version.What's New for 2009
Revisions for 2009 are minor and include standard side-curtain airbags with rollover-detection sensors, standard XM Satellite Radio, three new exterior colors and the addition of Bluetooth connectivity to the OnStar 8.0 system.Driving It Driving Impressions
Put a heavy foot on the pedal and the 2009 Chevrolet 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. Those seeking a more upscale interior should look to the Sport trim.Exterior
In compact SUV terms, the 2009 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 2009 Chevrolet Equinox LS features air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single CD and six speakers, XM Satellite Radio, remote keyless entry, rear wiper and washer, OnStar, 16-inch aluminum wheels, height-adjustable driver's seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, sliding and split-folding rear seat, a multi-tier cargo storage system and power door locks, windows and mirrors. Standard safety features include dual-stage front airbags, side-curtain airbags, StabiliTrak, four-wheel disc brakes and a tire-pressure monitor. The Sport trim adds a 3.6-liter V6, 18-inch wheels, hydraulic power steering (replaces the electric assist unit for improved steering feel), six-speed automatic transmission with tap-up/tap-down shift mode, heated front seats and a sport suspension.Notable Optional Equipment
Popular Equinox options include all-wheel drive, leather seating, heated front seats, six-way power driver's seat, Pioneer premium AM/FM/6CD/MP3 audio system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power moonroof, 17-inch wheels, DVD navigation, remote start and an electrochromic rearview mirror.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: 17/24 (FWD), 16/24 (AWD)
The 2009 Chevrolet Equinox LS' Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just over $24,000, while the LTZ is around $29,000. 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.