2008 Chevrolet Equinox Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox still sports great interior room, but it needs better handling and a better interior.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Chevrolet Equinox to write this comprehensive review. Our car experts also drove the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox to be able to deliver our definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to help you decide if the Equinox is the right car for you.

The compact crossover Equinox shares platforms and certain components with the Pontiac Torrent. For 2008, it gets minor updates and a new version, the Equinox Sport. It's an aging crossover but still has lots of interior room, great safety, and with a new powertrain, good acceleration.

Two powertrains are offered in the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox. The base powerplant is a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that's made in China and used in Buicks sold there. The engine isn't particularly powerful, and even the five-speed automatic teamed with it can't draw out any sort of excitement. It's either front-wheel drive or, when specified, all-wheel drive.

The Chevrolet Equinox Sport model gets its name from its updated appearance and the arrival under the hood of a new V-6 engine with 263 horsepower, teamed to a six-speed automatic. The automatic has tap-shift controls for semi-manual gearchanges, a tuned exhaust note, 18-inch wheels, and body-color trim, though it loses its roof rack in the Sportification process. Chevrolet offers the Sport in front- and all-wheel drive, and in general, it's a more enthusiastic performer capable of accelerating to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. There's almost no fuel economy penalty; the AWD Sport gets 16/24 mpg, while the front-drive Equinox with the base engine musters 17/24 mpg.

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The Chevy Equinox rides on an independent suspension, and its road manners are anything but athletic. It's far from a sloppy mess, but it takes no joy in cornering, and the tires on base versions howl at the slightest corners. The steering feels vague, too.

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox has been around for a few years, and while its crossover wedge shape isn't unattractive, it's starting to look its age. Inside, however, the Equinox needs to issue a moratorium on cheap plastic. To GM's credit, the company has become a lot better at crafting high-quality cabins like that in the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. This one got out before that became the case. The shapes are fine--it's the textures and action of the switches that disappoint. Thick windshield pillars don't help visibility, either.

Built around a front-wheel drive powertrain and carlike unibody, the Equinox has a completely flat floor that's also relatively low and that combines to amplify the feeling of spaciousness. But the most impressive element of the interior's accommodations is the vast amount of rear seat hip and legroom. Chevy has put the rear seat on sliding tracks so that it moves forward and back up across an eight-inch range. The rear seat's back also folds forward in a 60/40 split, and the right front passenger seat folds flat into a table as well. Behind the seats, though, the cargo area is about the size of that in the smaller Ford Escape.

There is no third-row seat, but the Equinox sports an adjustable cargo shelf in back, standard OnStar, and a compass. Curtain airbags are an option, and so outfitted, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox gets five-star crash ratings for front and side impacts. A navigation system and XM are optional.

7

2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

Inoffensive at best, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox crosses the boundary between butch SUV and softer-styled wagon.

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox has been around for a few years, and while its crossover wedge shape isn't unattractive, it's starting to look its age.

Edmunds says the Chevy Equinox is “part of a growing segment of 'plus-sized' small crossover SUVs.” Kelley Blue Book describes the Equinox as "unmistakably a Chevy with big, gold bowtie badges front and rear, plus angular styling." Car and Driver considers it “handsomely styled,” while Cars.com calls it “an attractive, utilitarian vehicle.” Autoblog, though, deems it "dowdy and utilitarian," even though it’s been “spiffed up with body colored trim and fascias (no more chrome mustache!)..."

Inside, the Equinox has a “clean, industrial-looking design," according to Edmunds. The "large, clear gauges surrounded by faux aluminum accents" are "warmed up by imitation wood" on upscale models. At the top of the ladder, the "Equinox Sport is specially outfitted with exclusive blue-lit instrumentation and ebony accents." ConsumerGuide agrees that the "gauges are easy to read," and adds "climate controls are simple and handy." That said, they note the "power window switches [that] are inconveniently staggered around the center console shift lever." Cars.com says, “Instruments and controls are standard GM-issue, which is fine,” but adds “inside, the Equinox still has some interior trim that belongs on a less expensive model.” Reviewers at Kelley Blue Book are less complimentary. They characterize the Chevrolet "Equinox's well laid-out interior" as one that "begs for more in the way of color and contrast" and note its "ill-fitting plastic, ho-hum cloth upholstery and a general lack of sophistication."

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7

2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox’s performance is adequate in base versions, and much improved in the Sport edition.

With ample horsepower for most applications and usually smooth shifting, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is well endowed, but still lacks the suspension polish of some other crossover models.

Two powertrains are offered in the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox. The base powerplant is a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that's made in China and used in Buicks sold there. The engine isn't particularly powerful, and even the five-speed automatic teamed with it can't draw out any sort of excitement. It's either front-wheel drive or, when specified, all-wheel drive. Cars.com reports this engine is “Hard to get excited about,” and according to Kelley Blue Book, the base V-6 is "jackrabbit quick when it comes to crossing crowded intersections." In regard to "passing at high speed," however, the Chevrolet Equinox "engine seems to lose some of its kick past the 70 mile-per-hour mark." Car and Driver takes note of the "thrashy-sounding 185-hp, 3.4-liter pushrod V-6," but is impressed with the shifting of the "surprisingly responsive five-speed automatic transmission" as found on the "LS and LT models."

The Chevrolet Equinox Sport model gets its name from its updated appearance and the arrival under the hood of a new V-6 engine with 263 horsepower, teamed to a six-speed automatic. The automatic has tap-shift controls for semi-manual gear changes. Chevrolet offers the Sport in front- and all-wheel drive, and in general, it's a more enthusiastic performer capable of accelerating to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Car and Driver is enthusiastic about the Sport trim, with its "3.6-liter DOHC engine with 264 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission." Cars.com says, “This engine, optional on the new Malibu, has plenty of punch, nicely delivered through the six-speed automatic transmission.”

“Though the Equinox is not meant for serious off-road duty, consumers who live in snowy climes will be glad to know that both trims may be purchased with all-wheel drive,” Edmunds notes, adding the SUV can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

There's almost no fuel economy penalty; the AWD Sport gets 16/24 mpg, while the front-drive Equinox with the base engine musters 17/24 mpg, according to the EPA.

The base Chevy Equinox rides on an independent suspension, and its road manners are anything but athletic. It's far from a sloppy mess, but it takes no joy in cornering, and the tires on base versions howl at the slightest corners. The steering feels vague, too. Edmunds “noted considerable body roll around turns, and the truck's electric power steering is sluggish and offers little feedback,” while Car and Driver praises the "relatively agile and carlike" handling, especially when "compared to SUVs with body-on-frame construction." Kelley Blue Book is also not impressed with the steering, saying the 2008 Equinox's "electric power steering system of the LS, LT and LTZ trims" provide "little feedback and an unnatural feel." Kelley Blue Book reports that with "a 40-foot turning diameter," the 2008 Chevy Equinox feels "like a full-size SUV in just about any parking lot." The Equinox Sport, however, shines in reviews from across the Web: “The ride is firm but compliant,” Cars.com asserts, “and handling is better than I thought I'd ever see in an Equinox.”

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2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is a strong combination of small size and large storage capacity, but interior elements lack comfort and quality.

For a crossover SUV, the Chevrolet 2008 Equinox has a surprising amount of interior space to deliver, but some materials are incongruous with more luxurious design elements.

The "roomy and versatile cabin" impresses Edmunds, while ConsumerGuide says there’s "plenty of headroom and legroom up front." MyRide.com finds the "front seats uncomfortable" and "lacking anything resembling lateral support." The most remarkable element of the interior's accommodations is the vast amount of rear seat hip and legroom, though. Chevy has put the rear seat on sliding tracks so that it moves forward and back up across an eight-inch range. The rear seat's back also folds forward in a 60/40 split, and the right front passenger seat folds flat into a table as well. Car and Driver applauds how the "Multi-Flex rear seating aims to provide flexibility for passengers and cargo." Reviewers at Kelley Blue Book note "more rear-seat legroom than even the biggest SUVs." Edmunds praises the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox as having "lots of stretch-out room for both rows," while ConsumerGuide grumbles that the "bench seat is hard and flat," though at least "there's plenty of headroom."

Behind the seats, though, the cargo area is about the size of that in the smaller Ford Escape. Families are sure to like the "height-adjustable cargo shelf [that] serves as both a security cover and a picnic table," Car and Driver says. Elsewhere inside, Chevrolet augments the front console with several "hidden storage compartments," Edmunds reports, and in the back, space is further increased by "integrated storage bins." The storage capacity of the interior is also singled out and praised for "69 cubic feet of total cargo capacity," placing the Equinox "among the class leaders."

Edmunds says the Chevy Equinox delivers a "quiet, well-insulated cabin." However, most remain unmoved by "subpar interior materials" and workmanship. That’s a common complaint among several reviewers; Car and Driver says "less than impressive interior materials make Equinox feel less refined than its competitors." Kelley Blue Book reports, “As for materials in the Equinox, Chevrolet has created an "interior marked by ill-fitting plastic, ho-hum cloth upholstery and a general lack of sophistication." MyRide.com bemoans "stalks for the turn signals and wipers felt brittle when used."

Noise is another common grievance. "Wind noise is obvious at highway speeds," says ConsumerGuide. The poorly insulated 2008 Chevy cabin is further assailed by "tires, which roar on smooth road surfaces."

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2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is among the highest-rated SUVs for crash protection, but side curtain airbags are an option.

With one of the best safety records of any SUV, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox delivers considerable peace of mind to drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox at five stars for all front and side impacts, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) deems its front-impact protection “good.”

Cars.com points out the Equinox has "optional side curtain airbags," (they’re actually standard on LTZ versions), and adds that front airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control all are standard.

While most safety features on the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox are lauded, the visibility beyond some basic design elements is criticized by ConsumerGuide. They are unimpressed by the way its "thick front roof pillars obscure visibility at stop signs." And, while necessary for vehicle integrity in rollover accidents, "rear vision is hindered by thick side and rear pillars."

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2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox sports a long list of features, though Bluetooth isn’t offered.

The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is well equipped in even the base models, with many desirable features offered as options.

Car and Driver states the Equinox comes standard with air conditioning and a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD player and auxiliary input. Kelley Blue Book also notes that on the Equinox, Chevrolet adds a six-way "height-adjustable driver's seat." Convenience features include keyless entry, as well as power for the door locks, windows, and mirrors. Other features standard on all models, reports Kelley Blue Book, include cruise control, "fold-flat front passenger seat, sliding/split-folding rear seat and a multi-tier cargo storage system." Among the more stylish standard features are 16-inch aluminum wheels that are constantly checked by an automatic tire pressure monitor.

Some of the favorite options on the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox, according to Cars.com reviewers, include "heated front seats, leather upholstery and a moonroof." Kelley Blue Book notes optional leather and heated front seats, an AM/FM/six-CD/MP3 audio system with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

Some other features in demand include DVD navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, remote start, XM Satellite Radio, and an electrochromic rearview mirror. The 2008 Chevrolet "LTZ Appearance package" is also replete with leather and chrome throughout.

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October 6, 2016
For 2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Will never buy another GM product

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First, the dealer flat out lied, telling us the vehicle had side impact airbags which was untrue. The driver':s side window fell out of track and cost nearly a $1,000 to fix. The passenger side front door's... + More »
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Performance 7
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