2013 Chevrolet Equinox Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 4, 2013

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is a good, affordable choice for cost-conscious families, but it doesn't skimp on comfort, safety, or the latest connectivity features.

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.

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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.

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2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is unmistakeably a Chevy on the outside, while it has a sleeker, more carlike cabin.

With nicely done proportions and sharp, careful detailing, the Chevrolet Equinox now fits in much more closely with the Chevrolet car lineup than with Chevy's SUVs like the Tahoe and Suburban. And for families looking for good, practical, stylish transportation, that's not at all a bad thing.

From a few paces away, the Equinox in itself looks more like a sort of like a scaled-down version of the Chevrolet Traverse now. We appreciate the better-detailed front and rear appearance, combined with a softened look in between, that this model received a few years ago, and it still manages to look quite fresh. The spacing of the headlights next to the grille help it look more like a tall station wagon than before, while edgy details over a rounded tail help verge away from a pack of look-alike crossover choices.

Inside, the 2013 Equinox seems a little overt for Chevy, but once you're accustomed to the cabin, it fits in well with the exterior. Elements of the instrument-panel center stack (also filtering down to the Sonic and Cruze) come strikingly close to those of the Cadillac SRX—with vents flanking the radio and climate controls.

The 2013 model year brings a refreshed lineup of colors, including Champagne Silver Metallic, Atlantic Metallic, and Tungsten Metallic, while interior color and trim combinations are mostly carried over.

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2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox isn't exciting to drive, but the four-cylinder and new 3.6-liter V-6 offer two flavors of powertrain performance.

The Equinox is larger than compact crossovers and could by many gauges be called mid-sized; so it's not all that surprising that Chevrolet offers a choice between four-cylinder and V-6 engines. That, along with a choice between front- and all-wheel drive, should give most shoppers what they want for their family needs.

We like the base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and think that it offers plenty of performance for most owners of a frugal, family-oriented vehicle.It has direct injection along with variable valve timing, and with the six-speed automatic it's one of the more advanced base engines in its class. We like how well it works with the automatic, and while 0-60 mph takes about nine seconds when empty, the transmission makes the most of what the engine has for good enough passing power even when you have some passengers. Our only complaint with this engine is that there are some unmasked clattery engine sounds when idling--a product of the direct-injection system.

For 2013, Chevrolet has dropped the former step-up engine, a 3.0-liter, 264-hp V-6 engine, and made the upmarket alternative GM's familiar 3.6-liter V-6 instead. While we haven't yet driven an Equinox with the 3.6-liter, which makes 301 hp, at the time of posting, we've found this engine to be smoother and stronger than the former engine in the closely related Cadillac SRX--while returning about the same fuel economy as that smaller V-6. If you do a lot of highway miles with a full load, it might be a worthwhile upgrade.

While the six-speed automatic transmission is responsive and does a good job of combining a low first gear, for quick takeoff, with taller cogs for the upper gears for keeping revs down on the highway (and fuel economy up), it's not as smooth as in other vehicles in this class. With either version, shifts can be rough, and the transmission can feel hesitant on hills or on-off throttle situations. Manual shifts can be made not though steering wheel paddle shifters or a separate gate, but through little plus or minus toggle buttons on the side of the shift knob.

The Equinox handles well enough for what it is, but steering is the only real sore point of the driving experience. The electric power steering is quite numb and light, which means that you might be making a lot of minor adjustments on the highway.

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2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

The 2013 Equinox is no luxury model inside, but for the most part its practicality and comfort are right on the money for family use,

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is right in the middle of the market for family crossovers. A half-step larger than true compact models, but more manageable than the likes of the full-size Chevy Traverse, the Equinox manages to combine a roomy interior for five, with a relatively quiet cabin and materials and trims that, with a few exceptions, feel far from bargain-basement.

Up front, the seats are better and more supportive than those in a lot of small crossovers, and the driving position is excellent--a combination of upright yet carlike. Cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather on upscale LTZ brings a luxury touch as well. Back-seat passengers will be comfortable, too, as there's adult-size space, including good headroom, a seatback that's adjustable for rake, and decent legroom.

Four-cylinder models feel nearly as smooth and quiet as those with the V-6, thanks to a clever noise cancellation system that actively helps eliminate coarse sounds and even mild vibrations. Door openings with triple seals and glass with integral sound damping further quiet things down inside, helping create a driving experience that's surprisingly close to that of a Buick or Cadillac.

With a settled, stable ride and plenty of stow space for larger and smaller items, the Equinox makes a good family vehicle for highway trips and vacations. A retractable cargo cover, stretchy net, and two deep cargo wells all help keep items in place and out of site, and there's a deep center console for electronics and purses. A somewhat high cargo floor is one downside, though.

The other beef with the interior is that, in terms of trims and materials, it's so close to a premium-brand execution but let down by a few odd bargain-bin details here and there. While we're fans of cloth seating, generally, we're not so fond of the base seating in the Equinox. And there are small things, like the thin, jagged plastichrome trim at the edge of the big storage bin (top and center on the instrument panel) that remind you this is a vehicle designed for a price point.

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2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

Outward visibility is about the only issue; otherwise the Equinox is one of the safest picks in its class.

The safety credentials of the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox are pretty great, considering its crash-test ratings and feature set, but difficult outward visibility keeps it from being perfect.

Crash-test results for the Equinox have been good--and almost the best they get. In the federal government's all-new crash-test and ratings system, the Equinox earned four stars overall, with a four-star score in frontal impact and five stars in the side test. In addition, it achieved top five-star results in NHTSA's tough new side-pole test. And in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the Equinox achieved top 'good' test scores in all categories—culminating in another Top Safety Pick Award for 2012 (and we anticipate a repeat performance in 2013).

In addition to head-curtain side airbags and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side airbags, the Equinox comes with standard four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, and GM's OnStar emergency and concierge services.

There is one safety downside in the Equinox, and it depends on your height and driving position. With a thick rear pillar, rearward visibility in the Equinox (for changing lanes, or reversing) can be truly appalling. Large blind-spot mirrors (a new standard feature) help work around that, although the rear-seat headrests don't remove or fold down to open up vision in the rear-view mirror. A rearview camera system is included in all models LT and above, and that helps with the low-speed situations. Lane departure warning and forward collision warning alert systems (though still not a blind-spot system) are available more widely on four-cylinder and V-6 models, and standard in the LTZ.
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2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

The 2013 Equinox ranges from basic to full-featured, with advanced connectivity and active-safety features on offer. .

Compared to other family vehicles that are equipped to a specific price point, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is a pretty impressive proposition, with good connectivity and infotainment features, a strong set of convenience features, and even some high-tech active-safety options.

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.

Standard equipment even on base Equinox LS models 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 the LS.

LT models add 17-inch aluminum wheels, remote keyless entry and remote starting, an anti-theft system, and one year of OnStar service free. It now also includes Bluetooth, a USB interface, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls. 2LT models add heated cloth seats,

Top-of-the-line LTZ models get perforated-leather upholstery, memory seat settings, automatic climate control, a universal remote, a rear vision camera, and both forward collision warning and lane departure warning--both useful features that might help avoid an accident.

For 2013, Chevrolet has 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.
7

2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Fuel Economy

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox isn't significantly thirstier with the addition of a new larger V-6, but the frugal four-cylinder is still the way to go.

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is a frugal, efficient pick, provided you get the base four-cylinder engine. The larger 3.6-liter V-6 that's been subbed in for 2013 in place of the former 3.0-liter isn't any thirstier--but it's not significantly more fuel-efficient, either.

With its 22 mpg city, 32 highway ratings for the base four-cylinder model with front-wheel drive, the Equinox is among the highest-mileage non-hybrid vehicles in this class. Stepping up to AWD, mileage drops to 20/29, still good for a comfortably sized crossover. All four-cylinder models now come with an 'Eco' button which activates a mode with more conservative air-conditioning operation, earlier torque converter lockup, and different shift points.

EPA ratings with the new, larger 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 weren't yet confirmed at the time of posting, but last year when the closely related Cadillac SRX got this engine its ratings improved slightly to 16/23 with AWD or 17/24 with front-wheel drive. If they're the same for the Equinox, that's the same as last year for the front-wheel-drive versions and a slight improvement with AWD.

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December 9, 2015
For 2013 Chevrolet Equinox

Totally pleased, three years of ownership.

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Three years and 47Kmiles and I'm totally happy with our Equinox. Main selling point was having enough headroom for Mr. Newcomb to wear his Stetson when motoring. Just happened, that his health became a major... + More »
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November 21, 2015
2013 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LTZ

suprised!!

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When chevy and Chrysler both filed for bankruptcy protection, and received the money from the people, I figured they would keep making the same type of vehicles. I am suprised they stepped up their game.
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May 12, 2015
2013 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LS

Just wish it was a bit more spacious in the rear and interior.

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I love this vehicle and everything about it except for the space wish it was a bit more room in the back for carrying and storage.
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April 28, 2015
2013 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

An excellent vehicle for any use.

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This car can be whatever you want it to be.The sliding rear seat makes it changeable from the most expansive seating area to a smaller one with a very large cargo area. Room only found elsewhere in much larger... + More »
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Styling 8.0
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