By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
In anticipation of a likely all-new Equinox next year, the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox rolls into this year relatively unchanged. There may be an element of "if it ain't broke" there, since Equinox sales have been doing better and better over the years despite newer competition such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. There's also the 'tweener size to consider; despite being priced alongside the Honda and Toyota, the Equinox is notably larger, about as long as a Ford Edge, for example. And, unlike those compact SUV competitors, the Equinox offers a V6 engine with 301 horsepower. Nonetheless, the Equinox is definitely a utility play, offering a roomy back seat and comfortable driving dynamics, but not really what we'd call "fun."
If you want an affordable and powerful compact SUV with a ton of rear-passenger space, the 2017 Chevy Equinox is worth a look. That 3,500-pound towing capacity in V6 models is sure to come in handy, too.
Big on the outside, but small on the inside, the Equinox isn't exactly a champion at space management. The smaller Honda CR-V offers more cargo space, and it's easier to use, too. If you want even more passenger space, plus good cargo room, check out the 2-row Kia Sorento.
KBB Expert Ratings
The new Midnight Black package swathes the Equinox in black paint, black leather seats, black wheels...you get the idea. A Sport Package is essentially the same thing, but with white paint on the body, and black everywhere else. Also, the LTZ trim is now called Premier.
You'd think that having a more-than-100-horsepower advantage over most of its competitors would give V6-powered Chevy Equinox models a distinct edge when it comes to performance. However, it has to...
... overcome nearly two tons of mass, considerably more than its smaller competition, and it cancels out the V6's advantage to some extent. However, the Equinox does offer up a comfortably relaxed ride around town or on the highway, although the standard 4-cylinder engine is too noisy at full throttle. Fuel economy is pretty good. But so what if it's not fun to drive? The compact-SUV market isn't exactly brimming with models that yearn for a twisty back road -- Mazda CX-5 notwithstanding -- so the Equinox’s quiet comfort is an advantage, or at least par for the course. However, there's no hiding that the Equinox is getting old compared to its competitors, and is due for an update.
ADJUSTABLE POWER LIFTGATE
Power liftgates are nothing new, but neither is the "Oh no, STOP!" feeling those with low-ceiling garages get when the liftgate blindly soldiers upward. Thankfully, the Chevy Equinox lets you adjust the maximum height of the liftgate on 2LT and Premier models. It also helps if you're just vertically challenged.
If for some reason you don't have enough legroom in the rear seat of the Chevy Equinox, reach down, and slide the seat back. Not only does the adjustable rear seat offer tons of legroom, it also makes it easier to get a child seat in and out.
The 2017 Equinox interior is a little bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, there's nice cloth trim on base models, leather available on LT and Premier models, and creature comforts like automatic climate control and a 7-inch touch screen. But the downside is space. Despite its outer dimensions, the Equinox comes up short on cargo space even compared to notably smaller vehicles, like the 10-inch-shorter Honda CR-V. On the other hand, the excellent rear legroom helps mitigate the cargo disadvantage if you haul people more frequently than things. All seating positions are comfortable, with plenty of room in front, too.
You wouldn't know by a glance that the 2017 Chevy Equinox is longer than the midsize 3-row Kia Sorento SUV. We give credit to the soft curves and narrow stance for disguising the overall size of the Equinox, especially the latter, as it isn't any wider than other compact-SUV models. Two new color packages are available this year: The Midnight Package goes all-black, with black exterior paint, wheels and trim. The Equinox Sport should really be called “Stormtrooper,” as its white body is contrasted with black everything else. Chrome exhaust tips distinguish V6 models.
The base 2017 Equinox L comes standard with a rearview camera, manual air conditioning, an audio system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, phone-only Bluetooth and USB, and of course power windows and mirrors. There's also standard cruise control, and a multi-information display between the main gauges that provides feedback on things like fuel economy and range. Safety features include traction and stability control, and multiple airbags. There's also OnStar service that features 4G connectivity and Wi-Fi.
You can order all-wheel drive on LS, LT and Premier Equinox models, and you can get the V6 engine on LT and Premier. Other options include a Chevy MyLink system that includes navigation, but unfortunately Apple CarPlay is not part of the equation, despite being available on many other Chevy models. The LT model is the only way to get the new Midnight or Sport packages, not to mention blind-spot detection and rear cross-path detection. The Premier adds lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Other options include a power tailgate with a programmable height and even a rear-seat DVD player.
Two engines are available for Equinox buyers. Standard in all trims is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 182 horsepower. However, with 3,700 pounds of compact SUV to haul around, the 4-cylinder feels merely adequate even at its best, although the highway fuel economy of 32 mpg is pretty solid. The 3.6-liter V6 offers up a lot more power and torque -- 301 horsepower and 272 lb-ft to be exact -- but even then, the Equinox isn't exactly a hot rod. Regardless of engine choice, power routes through a 6-speed automatic transmission to either the front or all four wheels (FWD, AWD), and both engines are happy running on regular unleaded.
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)
A bottom-tier 2017 Chevrolet Equinox L has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $24,000 including the $895 destination charge. But skip that and head for at least the LS model, which offers much more equipment for about $26,500. All-wheel drive adds $1,750 to an LS, LT or Premier model, and the V6 on LT and Premier adds $1,500. Check everything on the Equinox Premier and you'll up the price. A fully loaded LTZ will push the price well north of $37,000. But that's the V6; stick with the 4-cylinder and prices are more competitive with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, none of which offers a V6 engine. The KBB.com Fair Purchase Price will tell you what others paid for the Equinox in your area, and don't expect the Chevy to have the strong residual values of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage.