- Updated styling
- Big second-row legroom
- Four-cylinder option
- Four-cylinder upshifts a little quickly
- Minor plasticky bits of trim
- Tops $30,000 with the fun options
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is all about evolution—and the most striking changes are almost invisible, except at the gas pump.
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a heavily revamped edition of the crossover vehicle sold by GM since early in the decade. A five-passenger crossover, it’s offered with either a four-cylinder or a six-cylinder engine, both coupled to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is an option.
Chevrolet invited TheCarConnection.com to a Detroit-area preview and provided test cars for this review.
At first glance, the 2010 Chevy Equinox looks good on the parking lot and on the road. Its grille gives it a family resemblance to just about everything else in the Chevrolet. The profile is clean and has a substantial heft without seeming too heavy or blocky. Around back, the look remains clean. Inside, the cabin has lots of dramatic shapes and a central control panel that comes strikingly close to those in the 2010 Cadillac SRX—with vents flanking the radio and climate controls. It’s an appearance that will filter down to the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and other vehicles, and it’s an attractive departure from the more traditional Chevrolet style.
Two new engines power the 2010 Equinox, and both feature fuel-saving direct injection technology (normally good for a 3 percent gain just by itself). The smaller is a four-cylinder that displaces 2.4 liters and produces 182 horsepower at a high 6,700 rpm. This engine is the first four-cylinder ever available in the Equinox and yet another member of the Ecotec engine family found in many GM vehicles. Fuel mileage is 22 mpg city and an impressive 32 mpg highway for a front-wheel-drive version—better than a Ford Escape Hybrid. Stepping up to AWD, mileage drops to 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, still good for a comfortably sized crossover. A more powerful V-6 engine is still available in the 2010 Equinox, and it's the same one Cadillac uses in its new mid-size crossover, the 2010 Cadillac SRX. This new V-6 displaces 3.0 liters and produces a healthy 264 horsepower. Fuel economy is 18 mpg city, 25 mph highway for front-wheel drive, with the AWD version attaining 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
Both engines will direct their power to six-speed automatic transmissions. The four-cylinder tends to upshift early for good fuel economy, but the engine has enough torque to make this work. Chevy claims that 0-60 mph comes up in under 9 seconds for the four-cylinder and under 8 seconds for the V-6, but the bigger V-6 feels more than 1 second faster. Both engines are smooth, but clever tuning of the 2.4-liter and an interior noise-cancellation system make the smaller engine feel exceptionally so. Significant chassis upgrades help the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox handle better than any previous model. Engineers add body-stiffing structure and use more premium bushings in key locations. It rides smoothly while still tracking around corners directly. The steering on four-cylinder models is electrically boosted, and unlike most electrically assisted systems, this one has great feel—better, in fact, than some hydraulically assisted systems.
The interior is comfortable with good visibility. Rear-seat room is considerably larger than the main competitors, and knee room is better than most rivals. The three-across rear seat moves fore and aft eight inches, and the seatback reclines. The cargo area is pretty vast, with available trays and storage solutions that magnify its usefulness. While the Equinox has clearly been upgraded, there’s still a stray piece of trim or two that seems too plasticky, even at this price point—but mostly it’s handsome and tightly constructed. Best of all is the four-cylinder’s noise cancellation system; it works like noise cancellation headphones and helps eliminate sounds that tend to make four-cylinder engines feel cheap and coarse. Door openings with triple seals and glass with integral sound damping further quiet things down inside, helping create a driving experience that feels more Cadillac-like than bargain-basement.
In other good news, the 2010 Equinox airbag count is now at six, with these as standard: dual frontal airbags; head curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side airbags. Those looking for safety will also like having standard four-wheel disc brakes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control. OnStar is also standard. While the vehicles haven't been crash tested, Chevy expects full five-star ratings from the federal government and a "good" rating (their highest) from the IIHS.
With a raft of new features, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox matches or betters competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, though many of those new features are optional. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. A rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system, leather seating, heated seats, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio/phone controls, a sunroof, a rearview camera, and remote start are options. On some models, the cargo hatch is powered and can be easily programmed to different opening heights (helping prevent the hatch from opening into a garage door or other structure). With a base price of about $22,500, it’s not a long journey to a $30,000 Equinox—which would also get you into a larger seven-passenger Chevy Traverse.