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Drive Report: 26 MPG in 2010 Chevrolet Equinox Four-Cylinder

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During a trip to Detroit last week, we had a chance to spend a couple of days with the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox five-pasenger crossover sport-utility vehicle.

We'd wanted to try this vehicle for some time, as most reviews deemed it vastly superior to the previous model. Certainly it's got crisper styling, a far nicer interior, and better gas mileage.

We were especially interested in the model fitted with a 2.4-liter, 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. That's the most economical Equinox, rated by the EPA in front-wheel-drive form at 22 mpg city / 32 mpg highway. Add all-wheel-drive and the mileage falls to 20 mpg city / 29 mpg highway.

In our full review of the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox on TheCarConnection.com,  where we rated it at 7.8 out of 10 points, we lauded it for:

  • Updated and better styling
  • Impressive second-row legroom
  • Four-cylinder engine option

But weren't as fond of these characteristics:

  • Four-cylinder engine upshifts too quickly
  • Some minor trim felt plasticky
  • Costs more than $30,000 with fun options

Price and trim

The four-cylinder 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT carries a reasonable base price of $25,445, though ours added an AM/FM/XM Stereo and CD package combined with a navigation system, including voice recognition and a 40-GB hard drive for a stiff $2,145.

It also came with a $495 power liftgate (which can be set to different opening heights) and a $245 "Cargo Management Package" that comprised the crossbars for the roof rack, a grocery net, and the rear cargo cover--which, honestly, we think ought to be standard on every crossover and station wagon.

Total price at the bottom of the sticker was $29,075, including a mandatory $775 destination charge. With just a few more options, you're over $30,000, which starts to put you close to some fancier brands altogether.

Looks

The new 2010 Equinox is definitely crisper and sportier than its somewhat slab-sided predecessor.

With a thicker rear pillar and shorter rear windows, the entire vehicle looks shorter, perhaps to distinguish it better from the larger, seven-seat 2010 Chevrolet Traverse that's the next step up in Chevy's crossovers.

Ride and Handling

The Equinox rode well on the sometimes badly broken roads around Detroit. The handling was tight, and there was less body roll than we had expected from a vehicle in which passengers sit relatively high.

The four-cylinder comes with electronic noise canceling, which makes the car quiet enough that tire roar on bad surfaces is more apparent than it might otherwise be. But aside from crashing through the occasional truly cavernous pothole, the suspension is tight, the noise is low, and the 2010 Equinox handles in a remarkably car-like manner.

Performance

When we picked up the 2010 Equinox, a little green light in the instrument cluster said "ECO". Indeed, the driver can push the ECO button located just ahead of the transmission lever to select a more conservative set of engine control software for better gas mileage.

For fun, we decided to leave the ECO button engaged for our entire trip. The performance was adequate, though kickdown on hard acceleration produced a noticeable lag. But we kept up with traffic just fine.

The Equinox in ECO mode felt, essentially, like it was heavily loaded, so it accelerated a little slower than it would normally have. Which is probably about what the revised software settings were meant to simulate.


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Comments (10)
  1. Hey John. Nice review. My 1999 Lexus RX300 has one touch down AND up on ALL doors. I bought it used and has been (and still is) a great car. This was my first foreign car and want to buy American again. I am board with it and wanted a small strong hybrid SUV or the Chevy Volt. So far its the Escape hybrid or... wait and see. I am sooo frustrated with American car design when I see European designs currently available across the pond. Of many examples I could point out look at the Chevy Volt verses the Opel Ampera. BTW, the new GMC Terrain would make a sweet hybrid. Slim chances huh? I am looking for a car company to take my money for a reliable, strong hybrid SUV. Who will make it happen?
    Thanks much.
     
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  2. John,
    I want to give my experience with mileage. I am using the vehicle with a light foot but staying up with traffic just fine. My experience is that pure highway driving in the Baltimore/DC area (not too hilly) gets 35 mpg. I am getting a little over 32 mpg on state roads with a few red lights and occassional traffic.
    Aggressive driving does drive the mileage down into the 20's. Your review had me concerned prior to the time I recieved my car. I just want to let people know that 32 mpg (4 cyl 2LT with 17 inch tires) is easy to achieve (outside of congested driving).
     
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  3. The gas mileage does not come close to what Chevy advertise. I have tried many times to get 32mpg with
    my 2010 4cyl Equinox on trips . And I can only get 26 mpg, and I live in Michigan it was not too hilly
    on our expressway. The only way I think it could get 32mpg, is driving on downhill grade for the trip and
    driven by jockey ( who weights less than 100 lbs )
     
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  4. I thought I would mention that the EPA's official mileage estimates are done with the Eco mode activated. GM's internal testing suggests the Equinox 4-cylinder should get approximately 1 MPG less if you drive with the Eco mode turned off. (http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2009/06/chevrolet-equinox.html)
     
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  5. I have a 2010 Chevy Equinox 6 cyl. I have not gotten over 19 MPG and 90% of my driving is highway. It has had 4 recalls, the driver's side back window won't go up automatically, the blue tooth has very poor connection, and I am very dissatisfied with the whole thing. Chevy's attitude has been to bad so sad. I will not buy a Chevy again. I've had the car since September and I have heard every excuse in the book for the mileage. First it just wasn't broken in, then it was because winter gas has higher RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure)now they just haven't done the switch over yet. How about they just lied on their test results.
     
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  6. I would agree with Jacki D. I have had the Equinox 2010 6 cyl LTZ and have not gotten over 20mpg. Very dis-satisifying! Feel duped! Other than that, the interior, comfort, styling is appealing. Just can't get passed the mpg.
     
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  7. I also agree with Jacki D. We bought the 4 cyl 2010 Equinox in April. We are getting 22 MPH whether it is highway or city (we really can't call anything we drove city. We bought this crossover due to its style AND mileage. Frankly, we are disgruntled with this mileage. Our 2005 Toyota Camry outperforms this vehicle in all respects. Driven on the same trip, the Camry got 32 MPG and the Equinox 22 MPG. We wanted to back the US economy and a US company. Chevy or other US automakers should not look for us to make this mistake again.
     
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  8. I think clthomps comparison of the Camry to the Equinox is a mistake. Mostly because an Equinox weighs hundreds of pounds more than a Camry, much of it is in the structure that gives it a 5 star side crash rating, when a Camry gets 2 stars with the new 2011 rating!. Yup, Among Toyotas other dishonest wowes this year is that now it has come out that Toyota petitioned congress for years to postpone or eliminate the toughter crash tests because the milage of its cars is , among other things, directly related to weight, which is related to crash safety. They traded milage = sales for our safety and got caught. GM's have solid structures which routinely get the best ratings (look at the data behind the stars) and Toyotas are often at the bottom.
     
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  9. Being in the market for an SUV, the Chevrolet Equinox caught my attention with the gas mileage figures. I did read lots of folks that claim it gets less than the 2011 EPA results of 32 highway, etc. But you know, so do all the other cars.. getting less. Even makes like the CRV --- according to REAL WORLD GAS reports the CRV can get into the "teens" such as 18 and so. All cars are overestimated... not just the Chevy Equinox. According to the real world mileage reports from consumers, the Chevrolet Equinox gets real world mileage of 24.4 thru 26.2 and in the real world, it's better mileage than ALL the other similar crossovers. The remarkable thing about the Equinox.. It doesn't feel like a light bodied small SUV.. it feels substantial and full sized. It's really a remarkable vehicle. I'm still shopping and looking at all the others, but I can't get my mind off the Chevrolet. They really did do this one right. So far the CRV, Sorento, Outlander and Nissan models felt like a step down in overall build quality and comfort and that's no minor statement.. some of those are pretty good vehicles!
     
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  10. I bought the 2011 Equinox because of the estimated MPG.I am averaging less than 25 MPG. I live out in the country in rural Iowa and 95 percent of my driving is hiway miles. I complained to the dealer and being that half of my hiway miles are interstate hiway driving, he said I won't get 32MPG. He said I would only get 32MPG driving 55 to 60 MPH. I like every thing else about the equinox. This is my first and last SUV
     
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