2010 Chevrolet Equinox 2LTPosted on June 13th, 2009
Second-generation crossover jumps into the compact segment
By Nina Russin
As General Motors works to reinvent itself as a leaner, meaner company, the all-new Equinox could be a poster-child for its rebirth.While Chevrolet’s second-generation crossover vehicle is slightly smaller than the car it replaces, it has more standard content and enhanced safety features.
At a recent media event, General Motors executive vice-president and CFO, Ray Young, commented: “For General Motors, Chevrolet is the biggest asset we have. Both Fritz (Henderson) and I believe that if we can’t make Chevy successful, GM won’t be successful.”
When GM emerges from bankruptcy protection in August: it will do so with four core brands: Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. In addition to being GM’s best-selling brand, Chevrolet’s value focus epitomizes the company’s new direction.
Product planners expect the new Equinox to be one of Chevrolet’s volume leaders. The economic down-tick and rising fuel prices have been good news for the compact sport-utility segment, which now accounts for ten percent of all new car sales.
The Equinox’s versatile interior offers buyers coming out of larger trucks the functionality they need. Exceptional highway fuel economy minimizes the impact of rising gas prices on its cost of ownership
The five-passenger Equinox comes with either a four or six-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, and front or all-wheel drive. Average highway fuel economy for the front-wheel drive, four-cylinder car is 32 miles-per-gallon.
Four available models
Buyers can choose from four grades: LS, LT, 2LT and LTZ. Pricing for the base LS begins at $23,185, including destination. The upscale LTZ starts at $28,790.
Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and OnStar, which automatically notifies emergency personnel if the airbags deploy.
The Equinox development team enhanced interior quiet with insulation in the chassis, engine bay and interior. A noise cancellation feature on four-cylinder models uses microphones to detect booming sounds inside the car and sends counteracting sound waves through the audio system speakers. The technology reduces high-speed road noise that can be the bane of smaller vehicles.
A standard rear back-up camera displays a wide-angle view to the back of the car. The image is displayed in the rearview mirror, or optional navigational display. In addition to making parking easier, the camera protects small children who may wander behind the car.
Power electric steering on the four-cylinder car saves space under the hood and enhances fuel economy. Four-wheel vented disc brakes give the Equinox better stopping power in wet weather. All models come with a four-wheel independent suspension.
Not afraid of potholes
One problem with test driving cars in Arizona is that the roads are too perfect. As a former resident of the Midwest, I realize that many of those reading this review will want to know how vehicles perform on roads ravaged by frost, salt, and hasty spring patch jobs. While the Chevy PR folks apologized for the condition of roads around Detroit, I reveled in the opportunity to give their new crossover the ultimate test.
After a hundred miles of driving on two-lane rural roads, I was extremely impressed by the car’s suspension and interior quiet. I found the electric power steering a little too soft for my taste. I prefer more response, especially on the highway. The conventional hydraulic system on the six-cylinder models offers better steering response.
Standard 17-inch wheels provide large contact patches with the ground and ample stability for high-speed maneuvers.
I spent most of the drive in the 2LT, with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The six-speed automatic transmission virtually eliminates shift shock. Engineers programmed the transmission to shift late in order to maximize fuel economy. To accelerate hard, I had to punch the gas pedal almost to the floor.
Those looking for sportier performance and towing capability should consider the six-cylinder engine. Towing capacity for the six-cylinder model is 3500 pounds, meeting our minimum ALV standards. Four-cylinder models tow up to 1500 pounds.
Standard hill start assist uses the brakes to hold the car in place on steep grades: an especially useful feature for drivers towing trailers. Sway control keeps both the car and trailer from moving laterally on challenging roads.
A power four-way driver’s seat is easy to adjust. Together with a standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, it enables smaller drivers to maintain good forward visibility and a safe distance from the front airbag. Engineers positioned the gas pedal at an angle rather than having it flat to make the car more comfortable for women wearing heels of different sizes.
A 58/42 front-to-rear weight balance is pretty good for a front-wheel drive vehicle. I didn’t notice much tendency to understeer in the corners. Ground clearance of 7.8 inches is plenty for unimproved roads or driving through snow.
While available all-wheel drive enhances the car’s traction, I still wouldn’t recommend the Equinox for serious off-road driving. A body-on-frame vehicle with a two-speed transfer case is better suited for extreme trails.
Visibility is quite good all the way around the car. A wrap-around rear glass design eliminates blind spots in the rear corners.
Tech weenies like myself will love the standard XM satellite radio, available Bluetooth and USB interface. An audio upgrade on the test car adds steering-wheel mounted controls, navigation system, 40 gig downloadable hard drive, and rear seat DVD system. Screens for the DVD system stow in the front-row seatbacks.
There are four standard 12-volt power points: at the base of the center stack, inside the center console bin, behind the center console and in the cargo area. An information display at the top of the center stack is easy to read without obstructing the driver’s forward vision.
Standard satellite radio includes a complimentary three-month subscription. Temperature and audio controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. Designers also located child safety lock controls on the center stack, so parents can reach them quickly.
The two-gauge cluster is attractive and easy to read. A digital display on the center stack includes an ambient temperature readout.
Bottle holders and map pockets in the front and rear doors serve both rows of passengers. The Equinox has an exceptionally large center console bin, with a removable tray for small electronic devices. A covered bin on top of the center stack holds maps and paperwork.
The shift lever on the floor console is attractive and ergonomic. Manual gear selection provides sportier response.
The overhead console includes dual reading lamps, controls for the optional power liftgate and OnStar. Cars equipped with the optional navigation system get OnStar’s turn-by-turn concierge service.
Since the front-wheel drive car has no floor tunnel, three small adults can fit in back. The center console intrudes slightly on legroom in the center position, but it’s fine for trips around town.
Releases on the outboard sides of the seatbacks fold them flat without removing the seat cushions or headrests. The Equinox easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
A standard tonneau covers conceals cargo stashed in back. A cargo net keeps smaller items such as grocery bags from slipping around. The Equinox comes with standard roof rails. A rubber guard protects the rear bumper when loading items up top.
An ALV best value
Base price on the test car is $25,445, making the Equinox an ALV best value. Chevrolet builds the Equinox at its assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario Canada. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is rolling into dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A versatile compact crossover vehicle that’s bicycle friendly, and includes a high level of standard safety features. With 32 mile-per-gallon fuel economy, the front-wheel drive Equinox can travel up to 600 highway miles between fill-ups.
Dislikes: Poor on-center response on four-cylinder models. Electric power steering makes the driver feel disconnected from the wheels.
Model: Equinox FWD 2LT
Base price: $25,445
As tested: $31,420
Horsepower: 182 Hp @ 6700 rpm
Torque: 172 lbs.-ft. @ 4900 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 8.7 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Towing: Yes (six-cylinder model only)
Fuel economy: 22/32 mpg city/highway
11 responses to “2010 Chevrolet Equinox 2LT”
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