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:
But weren't as fond of these characteristics:
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.
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.
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.