2015 Chevrolet Equinox Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 26, 2015

The 2015 Chevrolet Equinox is more refined and quiet than many of its competitors, while offering the versatility and value that a budget-conscious family would expect.

The 2015 Chevrolet Equinox doesn't miss any critical points, and although it's hardly exciting, it's a great pick for families who need affordability, ample cargo space, and flexible seating, as well as with good maneuverability and fuel efficiency.

And that even includes styling. With crisp, somewhat sporty details, and proportions that line up partway between Chevrolet's trucks and cars, the Equinox looks like it should: handsome but inoffensive. Inside, the look is a little jazzier, with vents flanking the radio and climate controls and more of the look that Chevrolet cars have recently been given.

Size it up briefly, and you won't be surprised why vehicles like the Chevy Equinox have become the workhorse family sedans of today. And among all the compact (to mid-size) crossovers, the 2015 Equinox is one of the better picks; whether purposed for carpool duty, weekend family getaways, or commuting and errands, it's fully up for such versatile use—with an affordable price, a spacious interior, plenty of safety and tech features, and more refinement than you might expect.

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The fuel-efficient (and lower cost) four-cylinder models remain our recommendation. With 182 horsepower, the 2.4-liter four idles smoothly, albeit with a somewhat clattery direct-injection sound, and once underway it's 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. Yes, the 3.6-liter V-6 is strong and smooth, but it's also far thirstier in real-world driving—and frankly more than most cost-conscious moms and dads are going to need.

The Equinox feels designed for the ins and outs of family use, from the seating layout to the durable (albeit not always luxury-caliber) up-close details. There's an excellent carlike driving position, while the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather in top LTZ models feels quite luxurious. Back seats have enough space for two adults to sprawl out into, with decent legroom, and the seatbacks are adjustable for rake. And there's space for smaller items, weekend finds, and grocery bags between the two deep cargo wells in back, the deep center console, the retractable cargo cover, and stretchy net.

Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox, a rearview camera system is offered in most models, and lane departure warning and forward collision warning alert systems are standard in the LTZ and optional on the LT. Neither of those systems fully makes up for one Equinox inadequacy: Outward visibility can be challenging due to the thick rear pillars. The Chevy Equinox has earned top 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all categories, including in the tough small overlap frontal category (it's earned Top Safety Pick status); it's also earned top four- and five-star results from the federal government.

Considering its very affordable pricing, the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox has a very impressive set of the features that matter to price-conscious parents. GM includes a touch-screen audio system with a USB port across most of the lineup, and the voice-activated, touch-screen-based MyLink Connectivity system is an option. The MyLink package includes smartphone connectivity, integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls.

For 2015, OnStar now includes 4G LTE connectivity, with the ability to create an in-car WiFi hotspot.

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

The Chevy Equinox is lightly influenced by GM's trucks outside; inside, it's purely a carlike crossover, and a good-looking one at that.

It probably isn't fair to refer to the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox's styling as 'anonymous,' but we'll say that it looks like the car it needs to be to fulfill its family-oriented mission.

The interior of the 2015 Equinox isn't quite as in pace with the rest of the Chevy lineup; it's a little overt, and a different variation on the theme, but it fits well with the exterior. The center stack of the instrument panel, with its vents neatly flanking and framing central controls, bears some likeness to that of the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze--and also to that of the Cadillac SRX.

The spacing of the headlights next to the grille help it look a bit like a tall station wagon from some angles, while edgy details over a rounded tail do help the Equinox stand out in a pack of look-alike crossover choices.

Taking the whole design in from the outside, the Equinox impresses as a sort of scaled-down version of the big Chevrolet Traverse three-row crossover. If anything, the Equinox is just a little chunkier, with perhaps just a little more hints from Chevy's trucks filtering into the more upright flanks. That said, the Equinox design looks more car than truck, ultimately, and it still fits in well alongside the brand's sedans, with nicely done proportions and sharp, careful detailing.

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

Even the four-cylinder Equinox performs reasonably well--just don't expect any sportscar moves.

While the Equinox isn't necessarily a blast to drive, it handles well enough for its size–but its power steering is far too numb and light for our taste. Still, it remains one of the only vehicles in the segment to offer a V-6 option, which produces more than enough power to get up and go.

With a rather low first gear, for quick takeoffs, plus taller cogs for the upper gears and highway fuel efficiency, the six-speed automatic transmission covers the bases--although 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 engine choice, along with a choice between front- and all-wheel drive, should give most shoppers what they want for their family needs. And if they need some added grunt for full loads and mountain grades, the 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth and very strong. It makes 301 hp; and while it's considerably thirstier than the four, you might consider it a worthwhile upgrade.

The base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is one of the more advanced engines in its class, and with direct injection, variable valve timing, and a six-speed automatic, you can get quite a bit of real-world performance out of it--more than the 0-60 mph time of around nine seconds might suggest. Passing power is good enough even when you have some passengers; and our only issue with this engine is that its direct-injection-related clattering sounds are more prominent than in most other modern fours. 

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

A sliding second-row seat and good headroom all around puts the Equinox on the bigger end of the compact-crossover spectrum.

Families who don't need a third row should find the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox to be about the right size. It's more manageable to park than the larger Traverse crossover, but it's more spacious than most compact crossovers on the market today.

Front seating, as well as the driving position in the Equinox, are excellent. We like the upright, supportive setup no matter what, but the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather on upscale LTZ have an added luxury look and feel. In back, there's adult-size space, including good headroom, a seatback that's adjustable for rake, and decent legroom.

Ride quality is good too, and there's plenty of stow space for larger and smaller items, which altogether makes the Equinox 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. The only downside, we think, is that the cargo floor is just a little too high--or at least higher than we might expect.

Cabin and materials and trims are, with a few exceptions, far from bargain-basement--although a few odd bargain-bin details here and there let it down. While we're fans of cloth seating, generally, we're not so fond of the base seating in the Equinox. And there are a few too many things right in sight of the driver--like the thin, jagged, plastichrome trim at the edge of the storage bin, front and center--that remind you this definitely isn't a Cadillac.

The level of cabin refinement and quiet in the Equinox is perhaps closer to Buick or Cadillac standards, so you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to a clever noise cancellation system that actively helps eliminate coarse sounds and even mild vibrations, four-cylinder models feel nearly as quiet and refined as V-6 models once you're underway (you do head the clatter of the four a bit more at idle). Wind noise is well shut out, with triple door seals and glass with integral sound damping.

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

The IIHS gives the Equinox quite good ratings, but the NHTSA grades it slightly lower.

The 2015 Chevrolet Equinox has a solid reputation for occupant safety. However, we have a gripe about the crossover's outward visibility, which keeps us from crowning it as the safest pick in the segment.

Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox. So are GM's OnStar emergency and concierge services. 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, and that system earns a 'Basic' front crash prevention rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Unfortunately neither of those systems completely makes up for one Equinox inadequacy: outward visibility. Depending on your height and driving position, you might find the rather thick rear pillar to be in the way when changing lanes. The large blind-spot mirrors do help a bit, but definitely pay attention to this on the test drive.

As far as occupant protection goes, the Equinox has a great reputation. Crash-test results for the Equinox have been good. 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 IIHS tests, the Equinox achieved top 'good' test scores in all categories—for Top Safety Pick recognition.

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

High-speed data and high-value features find a home in the well-equipped Equinox.

New for the 2015 model year, the Chevrolet Equinox now uses an OnStar system with a 4G LTE data connection, as well as the ability to establish an in-car WiFi network with that connection. Considering the affordable pricepoint, the Equinox offers a long list of features, including an intuitive infotainment system, plenty of convenience features, and even a few active safety technologies, too.

Most of the lineup now gets a touch-screen audio system with a USB port, while the voice-activated, touch-screen-based MyLink Connectivity system--for easier connectivity for hands-free calling or media access--is an option. MyLink also includes integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls, plus the allowance for a connected navigation 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.

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2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is very good in the four-cylinder Equinox, but even the V-6 versions are acceptably frugal.

The V-6 model of the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox is thirsty, but it has ample torque to move you around town. However, the four-cylinder is both frugal and fuel-efficient, and is worth a look.

EPA ratings with the new, larger 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 remain unimpressive for those who care about mileage: 16/23 with all-wheel drive or 17/24 with front-wheel drive.

The Equinox's EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 32 highway ratings for the base four-cylinder model with front-wheel drive make it one of the better non-hybrid crossovers for fuel economy. 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.

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April 30, 2016
2015 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

Too much road noise

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I have the fwd 4 cly model and liked the size and mpg, but I can not stand the road noise. I traded in my 2010 Silverado and that truck road so nice and quiet . I need to get the equinox sound proofed or get... + More »
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February 26, 2016
2015 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LTZ

worth it to get 6 cylinder

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I bought this new in July, 2015 the LTZ model. Love the power of that 6 cylinder. The handling & steering is not as good as I would have liked in tight parking lots. The interior cabin a bit small, but I am... + More »
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November 1, 2015
For 2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Our 2015 Equinox after 6,000 miles

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Nice car, but the dash gas mileage is 2- 2 1/2 miles per gal off. If you record miles and fills, you will see the real results! Yes, it may get 32 miles per gal if you drove the interstate in flat land... + More »
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October 29, 2015
For 2015 Chevrolet Equinox

New vehicle had for six weeks unreliable!!! The battery is drained from the Bluetooth the radio did not work and has been replaced and one payment has not even been made on the vehicle. I have a loaner car and am sick about not having my own car in my p

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Not reliable new vehicle/. Dies in the garage overnight
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July 23, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LTZ

Purchased with pride

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I just purchased my 2015 Equinox and love it it has everything I could ask for in a SUV and more. The added fact it was made in America by UAW workers made me buy this vehicle. I've bought Chevy products most... + More »
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July 13, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

our second Equinox

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Great technology in a comfortable and thrifty SUV. It is our second equinox and we like it more than the first one. GM keeps refining it.
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May 12, 2015
For 2015 Chevrolet Equinox

Not very roomy

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I like my Equinox okay, but the back seat is too small for 3 people. The cargo area isn't flush all the way to the back seat, which is a pain when your groceries roll down in there. Not nearly as roomy as my... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT w/2LT

Great Vehicle with great performance.

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Great vehicle with great performance. I am just a little disappointed in the fuel economy. I think a vehicle with a 4 cylinder engine, being driven primarily in the city, should get better than an avg. of 19... + More »
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April 22, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LS

Best SUV I could of hoped for.

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I can simple say I love it. Looks great, rides really smooth. After months of looking, it was the best SUV for my family. I haven't had a new vehicle since 1993, and this was perfect and it has it all.
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April 13, 2015
For 2015 Chevrolet Equinox

What an awesome SUV!

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We were not sure this was the right vehicle for us. But 3 months in we ae more than sure. Quality is first rate and the technology is the best in the industry! LOVE IT!
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