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Now in its fourth year on the market, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox remains one of the top sellers among compact crossover utility vehicles. And there are good reasons for that: It comes with top safety ratings, it has a spacious interior, and it gets good gas mileage. The model launched for 2010 was the first truly competitive crossover from Chevy in the compact segment, and it faced off directly against perennial powerhouses the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.
Sportier, crisper exterior styling and modern but adventurous interior lines added some flair to the Chevy's mix of interior space and functionality. It's very much a Chevy, with that brand's characteristic grille and better proportions than its long, bland predecessor. Inside, the Equinox was an early example of what's become Chevy's house style--with a modified twin-cockpit dash, vents that flank the radio and climate controls, and distinctly car-like controls.
The Equinox has been a consistent top performer in crash-tests and safety ratings. It's been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and it's earned top four- and five-star results from the federal government. Rearward visibility remains its biggest safety flaw, but available features like a new rearview camera system, blind-spot mirrors, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning all improve the situation. For 2013, Chevrolet has expanded the availability of the latter two features to more models--this time with either engine.
For the 2013 model year, Chevrolet retains the base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. But the optional engine in the Equinox has gotten an upgrade this year; it's now a 301-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that--as we know from the related Cadillac SRX--brings a quicker and more responsive feel while keeping gas mileage respectable. But our recommendation for most shoppers remains the fuel-efficient (and lower cost) four-cylinder models, which idle smoothly ,albeit with a somewhat clattery direct-injection sound. Once underway, the base engine is agreeable and unobtrusive. The combination comes with a stellar 32-mpg highway rating, too. The Equinox doesn't track as confidently on the highway as we'd like, but this is first and foremost a family vehicle.
That priority shows when you have the family get into the Equinox, or need to load some cargo. There's an excellent carlike driving position, while the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather in top LTZ models feels quite luxurious. Back seats aren't just for temporary duty either; there's enough space for two adults to sprawl out, with decent legroom, and the seatbacks are adjustable for rake. And with a deep center console, retractable cargo cover, stretchy net, and two deep cargo wells in back, the Equinox offers space for smaller items, grocery bags, or pieces of furniture.
Last year GM sweetened the Equinox's feature set to include touch-screen audio system with a USB port across most of the lineup, and added its new voice-activated, touch-screen-based MyLink Connectivity system--for easier connectivity for hands-free calling or media access--as an option. The MyLink package includes smartphone connectivity, integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls.
Now for 2013, you can get a true navigation system paired with the MyLink system. Chevrolet has also added a new Power Convenience Package that makes a power passenger seat, power programmable liftgate, and universal garage-door opener also available in LT models. A Safety Package can also be added to the LT.
Compared to other family vehicles that are equipped to a specific price point, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is a pretty impressive proposition. Its features include good connectivity and infotainment features, a strong set of convenience items, and a few high-tech active-safety options for those who deem them worthwhile.