New & Used Chevrolet Equinox: In Depth
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The Chevy Equinox is a five-passenger crossover utility vehicle with available all-wheel drive and a choice of efficient four-cylinder and V-6 engines. The Equinox competes with many models in a very crowded segment, including the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4.
See our review of the 2015 Chevy Equinox for more information, including options, prices, gas-mileage ratings, and specifications. Also check out The Car Connection's coverage of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox.
While the two share no body panels, under the skin the Chevy Equinox is nearly identical to the GMC Terrain. Both vehicles are made by General Motors and differ mostly in styling, interior, features, and options. For the 2015 model year, the Equinox is updated with 4G LTE connectivity through its OnStar telematics system. A built-in WiFi hotspot is also now standard but requires a separate monthly commitment for service. A long-awaited but not extremely substantive update to the Equinox arrives for 2016.
The current-generation Equinox debuted for 2010. Power comes from either a 182-horsepower four-cylinder or a 301-horsepower V-6. Both are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions with front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive offered as an option. Ride quality in the Equinox is good, the handling is secure if not exciting, and the latest Equinox offers more feature content than the model it replaced. The EPA rates the Equinox at 32 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and the four-cylinder, keeping it competitive even with newer crossovers that have arrived since it was introduced.
One Equinox feature that is rare among other models is its sliding second-row bench. The seat can be moved back for more passenger room or forward for additional cargo space. The Nissan Rogue recently adopted this feature, and the Equinox's GMC-branded sibling offers it as well. Unlike the Rogue, however, the Equinox and Terrain do not offer a third-row seat. For a Chevy crossover with that extra room, you'll have to trade up to the larger Traverse.
The Equinox has seen few major changes in recent model years, although it has received some of the latest connectivity and active-safety features. Those include lane-departure warning and forward collision alert, plus Chevy's MyLink system, for easier hands-free calling and media access. In 2013, the Equinox introduced a combination of MyLink and touch-screen navigation, while a new 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 replaced the 3.0-liter V-6 as the top-level powertrain. A replacement for today's Equinox and Terrain crossovers will likely arrive for the 2016 model year.
With many new luxury features added to the latest Equinox, this is a model that can be a bargain in its base form. Yet it's relatively easy to push its $22,500 base price up near $30,000--where a seven-passenger Chevrolet Traverse wagon might make more sense.
A refreshed Equinox has been announced for the 2016 model year. The formula changes very little, and in fact there are no major mechanical updates. Instead, the 2016 Equinox receives revised front and rear styling, with a new grille and headlights and resculpted lighting units in the rear. Inside, the materials have been improved, and the 2016 model will get a few new options, including the advanced safety features already offered on the GMC Terrain Denali. This updated Equinox should perform just like today's models, with the same EPA ratings and all. A completely new Equinox is likely several years away.
The first-generation Equinox debuted in 2005, one of four then-new crossover vehicles that used the same underpinnings. Only the Equinox survives; the other three have passed into history (they were the Saturn Vue, Pontiac Torrent, and Suzuki XL7). That 2005 Equinox was positioned as a 'just right'-sized crossover utility vehicle--a little larger than compact crossovers like the Ford Escape, but a little smaller than three-row mid-size entries like the Toyota Highlander. The first generation of the Equinox was offered with front- or all-wheel drive, and four- or six-cylinder engines, through the 2009 model year. While reviewers appreciated the interior room of the first Equinox, its antiquated, coarse V-6 engine and bland styling were outdone by competitors from Honda, Ford, Toyota and Subaru. In 2008, Chevrolet added a smoother, more powerful V-6 to the Equinox lineup (and to the Pontiac Torrent as well).