By KBB.com Editors
The second-generation Chevy Equinox is a strong new contender in one of our favorite vehicle categories. Compact crossovers like the Equinox offer the raised seating position and much of the flexibility of a larger crossover or SUV, but with lower sticker prices and better fuel economy. The segment has been dominated by the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, but the 2010 Chevy Equinox promises to shake up the category in much the same way the new-in-'08 Chevy Malibu impacted the mid-size sedan segment.You'll Like This Car If...
If the newfound refinement, sharp styling or quiet and roomy interior don't grab you, perhaps the four-cylinder's 32-mpg highway fuel economy rating will.
Although the 2010 Chevy Equinox is one of the larger vehicles in the segment, it doesn't offer optional third-row seating like the Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Santa Fe.
All new for 2010, the second-generation Chevy Equinox is more attractive, more refined, more powerful, more fuel efficient and more feature-filled than its predecessor. Overnight the Equinox has gone from outdated to outstanding.Driving It Driving Impressions
Quiet, comfort and luxury are the impressions you get from behind the wheel of the new Chevrolet Equinox. The V6-equipped version doesn't offer the sporty performance of the V6-equipped RAV4, the hot rod of the class, but it certainly delivers more than adequate acceleration and a comfortable ride reminiscent of a larger crossover. Those who opt for the four-cylinder-equipped version will find acceleration better than they might expect, aided by the innovative six-speed automatic transmission. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable seat height make finding a comfortable driving position simple, and rear-seat legroom benefits from the flexible seating configuration. Plus, the ice-blue ambient lighting, the surfeit of storage areas and the available perforated leather seats make you forget you're not in a luxury crossover.Favorite Features
If you've got low garage clearance or limited vertical reach, you can program the tailgate to open only to a safe or reachable height.
This is an option we think more vehicles in the class should offer. In the 2010 Chevy Equinox, the system features two independent seat-back-mounted screens on which one rear passenger can watch a DVD movie while the other plays a (self-supplied) video game, for instance.
The 2010 Chevy Equinox features the most stylish, most contemporary interior in the category. It's also the best-looking interior we've ever seen in a bow tie-badged car. There are some middling materials here and there, including some cheap-looking plastic-chrome accents, but they don't detract from the fact the Equinox has a luxury-grade interior. More than a looker, the new Equinox is also notably quiet and roomy. Four-cylinder versions include an active noise cancellation system (which counters sound waves with sound waves) as standard equipment. One of the roomiest rear seating areas also features seats that slide forward nearly eight inches to provide for even more cargo room in back.Exterior
There's a lot we like about the new 2010 Chevy Equinox, but the bold exterior styling is particularly noteworthy. We're fans of the big, complex headlights, two-bar grille and clean but aggressive lower fascia. Moving around to the side, we're partial to the big fender flares, the sharp crease and the overall proportions (especially when outfitted with the optional 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels). Out back, our eyes are drawn to the perfectly sized, crisply styled tail lights. If you want to call it the best-looking vehicle in the segment, you won't hear any argument from us.Notable Standard Equipment
All models have a six-speed automatic transmission, while an "eco" mode on models with the four-cylinder engine alters shift points to improve fuel economy. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags – dual frontal airbags, head curtain side airbags and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side airbags - plus four-wheel disc brakes with electronic stability control and traction control. Safety and convenience are enhanced with standard OnStar, while XM Satellite Radio provides added entertainment value. The "smart" remote start feature, standard on 2LT and LTZ trims, also activates the heating and air conditioning.Notable Optional Equipment
The 2010 Chevy Equinox offers a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power liftgate, both of which are uncommon in the category. Other notable options include V6 power, all-wheel drive, a navigation system, comprehensive premium audio system, remote vehicle start (1LT), backup camera, leather seating, heated front seats and a memory-enabled driver's seat and mirror.
Every 2010 Chevy Equinox includes a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine as standard equipment, and all but the entry LS trim level offers a V6 upgrade for $1,500. The engines feature direct injection technology and are matched with six-speed automatic transmissions, both of which simultaneously increase power and efficiency. Four-cylinder versions offer an "Eco" button that sets the engine and transmission programming to mileage-maxing mode. The optional V6 offers manual shift control, although we felt it could be more responsive. The four- and six-cylinder versions feature tow ratings of 1,500 and 3,500 pounds respectively.
2.4-liter in-line 4
182 horsepower @ 6700 rpm
172 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (FWD) 20/29 (AWD)
264 horsepower @ 6950 rpm
222 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (FWD) 17/24 (AWD)
The 2010 Chevy Equinox starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just more than $23,000 and tops out at about $37,000. We expect our Fair Purchase Prices to reflect real-world transaction prices within a few hundred dollars of sticker price. Comparable base models of the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 all start closer to $22,000 and top out around $30,000, $33,000 and $36,000, respectively. We haven't yet finished our residual value analysis on the 2010 Chevy Equinox, but we suspect it will outperform most of the vehicles in the category, if not the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.