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 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