2011 Chevrolet Equinox Performance

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Performance
The Equinox got all-new powertrains last year—including a more responsive V-6 and more economical four-cylinder base engine—and both of these offerings carry over to 2011. Though both engines are good, its trump card is the new 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which gets direct injection in addition to variable valve timing. The engine idles smoothly, albeit with a ratchety DI sound, but it's pretty agreeable and unobtrusive most of the time when underway. And most importantly, it gets a stellar 32-mpg EPA highway rating. A more powerful 3.0-liter, 264-hp V-6 engine is available in the 2011 Equinox, and it's the same one Cadillac uses in SRX, and it's just as smooth and responsive here.

Matched up with either engine is a six-speed automatic transmission. First gear feels quite low, enabling a quick takeoff, and in four-cylinder models the transmission lets engine revs wind quite high (3500 rpm or so) in light to moderate acceleration. After that, the cogs get progressively taller and it does a good job keeping revs down low in the fuel-efficient range. With either version, shifts can be rough, though 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.

Neither engine feels short on power, but the V-6 would be the choice if you occasionally need to tow a small trailer or often drive with a fully loaded vehicle. 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 a second faster. Significant chassis upgrades help the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox handle better than any previous model.

The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is refined and responsive—economical, too—but not sporty or exciting.

The electric power steering system in four-cylinder models is worlds better than it was years ago, with a heftier, almost German feel. It gives the Equinox acceptable handling and maneuverability, and a secure feel, but it's still not ideal. The steering wheel doesn't transmit much of a feel of the road but has very strong weighting that keeps it on center. Brakes are excellent and reassuring in feel, like those in most GMs of recent years

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