By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
Despite external dimensions that seem more midsize than compact – it's about as long as a Ford Edge – the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact SUV that competes against the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. It seats five, and offers up a good-sized back seat, albeit at the apparent expense of cargo space, which trails even smaller compact competitors. There's a refreshed nose and tail this year, plus a few interior enhancements and modern features like blind-spot warning and cross-traffic detection. But it does little to liven up the driving experience, which is comfortable and quiet, and benefits from an available 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 with a 3,500-pound towing capacity. The 4-cylinder model isn't as peppy, but gets 32 mpg.
The 2016 Chevy Equinox is worth a look if your priority is a powerful, relatively inexpensive compact SUV that puts a priority on rear-passenger comfort. The 3,500-pound towing capacity in V6 models is pretty nice, too.
Although the Equinox is big on the outside, there isn't as much cargo space as you'll find in the Honda CR-V, and it's not as easy to use, either. If you want even more passenger space, plus good cargo room, a 2-row Kia Sorento might be worth a look.
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The 2016 Equinox gets a new nose and tail, with projector-beam headlights in front and LED taillights in the rear. Also new is a revised center stack with a new storage shelf, blind-spot and cross-traffic alert, and enhanced interior fabrics.
Conventional wisdom says that the V6 engine in the 2016 Chevy Equinox makes it something of a hot rod compared to competitors like the Honda CR-V. It would, if the...
... Equinox wasn't such a dense little machine; at nearly two tons, it weighs hundreds of pounds more than the Honda, canceling out a good portion of the power advantage. Hot-rod power numbers aside, the Equinox is a quiet cruiser, especially in the compact-SUV class, although the 4-cylinder introduces more thrash than we'd like to hear. Fuel economy is pretty good for the 4-cylinder model though, and while the Chevy Equinox goes about its day-to-day life with a comfortable ride, accurate but numb steering and little drama, that's fine for the majority of buyers in the compact-SUV market, which isn't exactly brimming with models that yearn for a twisty back road.
ADJUSTABLE POWER LIFTGATE
Whether you're short in stature, or if you just have a low-ceilinged garage, the adjustable power liftgate height available on the Equinox 2LT models and standard in the top-line LTZ will help this bigger-than-expected compact SUV fit into your lifestyle.
Not only does the 2016 Chevy Equinox have excellent rear-seat legroom, its rear seat slides fore and aft as well. That means there's plenty of room for rear-seat passengers to stretch out, and it makes it a lot easier to get a child seat in and out as well.
The 2016 Equinox interior gets a mild update, with nicer cloth on lower trim levels, a new Saddle Up interior available on LT and LTZ, and a standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. It's also comfortable and reasonably versatile. However, it's also small. For example, despite being nearly 10 inches shorter, the Honda CR-V boasts roughly six more cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat. On the other hand, the Chevy Equinox shines when it comes to rear-seat space. With well-bolstered seats front and back and lots of legroom for all passengers, it's easy to get comfortable.
The 2016 Chevy Equinox is actually longer than the midsize 3-row Kia Sorento SUV, surprising because the Equinox doesn't look that big; if anything, you'd think it was on the small side. Credit soft curves and a narrow stance – it isn't any wider than any other compact SUV – for the illusion. This year the nose gets a new grille design, with chrome accents on the dual-port grille, and projector-beam headlights flanked by LED daytime running lights in LT and LTZ models. The rear also comes in for an update, with dual-element taillights, and chrome exhaust tips for V6 models.
Standard on the base 2016 Equinox L model are things like a rearview camera, manual air conditioning, an audio system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, Bluetooth and USB, and of course power windows and mirrors. Also standard is cruise control, and a driver-information center between the gauges that monitors a variety of functions such as fuel economy and range. Chevrolet also includes its OnStar service that features 4G connectivity and Wi-Fi, and safety features like traction control, electronic stability control and multiple airbags, including those for rear outboard passengers.
All-wheel drive (AWD) is an option on LS, LT and LTZ Equinox models, while the V6 engine is only available on LT and LTZ models. You can upgrade the Color Touch infotainment system to a full-fledged Chevy MyLink system that includes navigation, but unfortunately Apple CarPlay is not available on the Equinox as it is on many other Chevy models this year. The LT has plenty of other options, like blind-spot detection and rear cross-path detection; the LTZ adds lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Other options include a power tailgate with a programmable height and a rear-seat DVD player.
All 2016 Chevy Equinox models come standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 182 horsepower. With 3,700 pounds of compact SUV to haul around, it's at best adequate, but fuel economy is pretty good at up to 32 mpg. If you need more power for either towing or just passing, the 3.6-liter V6 with 301 horsepower available in LT and LTZ models does a better job, but don't expect a hot rod. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and both run on regular gasoline. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard with either engine, with all-wheel drive an option for those who want a little extra peace of mind on slippery roads.
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (FWD), 20/29 mpg (AWD)
301 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD), 16/23 mpg (AWD)
The base 2016 Chevrolet Equinox L starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $23,500, including the $895 destination charge. However, most buyers will likely opt for at least the Equinox LS, which starts at just over $26,000. Equinox LS, LT and LX models can add AWD for an additional $1,750, and the V6 is available on LT and LTZ models for an extra $1,500. A fully loaded LTZ will push the price well north of $36,000. However, 4-cylinder prices are competitive with the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, none of which offer a V6 engine. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what the Equinox goes for in your area. At resale time the Chevy Equinox holds up well against many rivals, but below the strong residual values of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage.