2010 Chevrolet Equinox Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
August 19, 2009

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is all about evolution—and the most striking changes are almost invisible, except at the gas pump.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com drove the new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and 2010 Chevrolet Equinox to bring you this hands-on review of its performance, styling, quality, comfort, and features. Editors also evaluate the Chevy Equinox against its competition, to provide you the best information to help with your shopping decision.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a heavily revamped edition of the crossover vehicle sold by GM since early in the decade. A five-passenger crossover, it’s offered with either a four-cylinder or a six-cylinder engine, both coupled to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is an option.
Chevrolet invited TheCarConnection.com to a Detroit-area preview and provided test cars for this review.

At first glance, the 2010 Chevy Equinox looks good on the parking lot and on the road. Its grille gives it a family resemblance to just about everything else in the Chevrolet. The profile is clean and has a substantial heft without seeming too heavy or blocky. Around back, the look remains clean. Inside, the cabin has lots of dramatic shapes and a central control panel that comes strikingly close to those in the 2010 Cadillac SRX—with vents flanking the radio and climate controls. It’s an appearance that will filter down to the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze and other vehicles, and it’s an attractive departure from the more traditional Chevrolet style.

Two new engines power the 2010 Equinox, and both feature fuel-saving direct injection technology (normally good for a 3 percent gain just by itself). The smaller is a four-cylinder that displaces 2.4 liters and produces 182 horsepower at a high 6,700 rpm. This engine is the first four-cylinder ever available in the Equinox and yet another member of the Ecotec engine family found in many GM vehicles. Fuel mileage is 22 mpg city and an impressive 32 mpg highway for a front-wheel-drive version—better than a Ford Escape Hybrid. Stepping up to AWD, mileage drops to 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, still good for a comfortably sized crossover. A more powerful V-6 engine is still available in the 2010 Equinox, and it's the same one Cadillac uses in its new mid-size crossover, the 2010 Cadillac SRX. This new V-6 displaces 3.0 liters and produces a healthy 264 horsepower. Fuel economy is 18 mpg city, 25 mph highway for front-wheel drive, with the AWD version attaining 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.

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Both engines will direct their power to six-speed automatic transmissions. The four-cylinder tends to upshift early for good fuel economy, but the engine has enough torque to make this work. 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 1 second faster. Both engines are smooth, but clever tuning of the 2.4-liter and an interior noise-cancellation system make the smaller engine feel exceptionally so. Significant chassis upgrades help the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox handle better than any previous model. Engineers add body-stiffing structure and use more premium bushings in key locations. It rides smoothly while still tracking around corners directly. The steering on four-cylinder models is electrically boosted, and unlike most electrically assisted systems, this one has great feel—better, in fact, than some hydraulically assisted systems.

The interior is comfortable with good visibility. Rear-seat room is considerably larger than the main competitors, and knee room is better than most rivals. The three-across rear seat moves fore and aft eight inches, and the seatback reclines. The cargo area is pretty vast, with available trays and storage solutions that magnify its usefulness. While the Equinox has clearly been upgraded, there’s still a stray piece of trim or two that seems too plasticky, even at this price point—but mostly it’s handsome and tightly constructed. Best of all is the four-cylinder’s noise cancellation system; it works like noise cancellation headphones and helps eliminate sounds that tend to make four-cylinder engines feel cheap and coarse. Door openings with triple seals and glass with integral sound damping further quiet things down inside, helping create a driving experience that feels more Cadillac-like than bargain-basement.

In other good news, the 2010 Equinox airbag count is now at six, with these as standard: dual frontal airbags; head curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side airbags. Those looking for safety will also like having standard four-wheel disc brakes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control. OnStar is also standard. While the vehicles haven't been crash tested, Chevy expects full five-star ratings from the federal government and a "good" rating (their highest) from the IIHS.

With a raft of new features, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox matches or betters competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, though many of those new features are optional. Standard equipment 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 some models, the cargo hatch is powered and can be easily programmed to different opening heights (helping prevent the hatch from opening into a garage door or other structure). With a base price of about $22,500, it’s not a long journey to a $30,000 Equinox—which would also get you into a larger seven-passenger Chevy Traverse.

7

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox feels modern and tasteful inside and out, and builds off of GM’s recent design successes.

The first-generation Chevrolet Equinox, which has been on sale since early this decade, was sorely in need of a facelift right around the same time that GM began its financial death throes. GM’s emergence from the shadow of its former self coincides almost perfectly with the introduction of the new, second-generation Chevy Equinox, a crossover that exemplifies, with only a few reservations, how good a vehicle the new GM is capable of producing.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a five-passenger, mid-size crossover that Edmunds says is “available in LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ trim levels.” For the 2010 Equinox, Chevrolet has completely redesigned the lineup, and preliminary reviews read by TheCarConnection.com love the new look. Car and Driver reviewers feel that the Chevy Equinox is “expressively styled, with a hunkered-down road stance and more sparkling body jewelry than a Las Vegas cancan dancer’s.” Automobile Magazine calls the Equinox Chevrolet’s styling “a good look, if not particularly original,” with such classy appointments as “shapely headlamps, an upward-sweeping crease through the door handles, and thick rocker panels connecting the fender flares between standard 17-inch aluminum wheels.”

While some vehicles are simply over the top with the chrome body jewelry, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox finds a near-perfect balance between its various styling elements, so much so that Edmunds says the new Chevy Equinox “looks more grown-up and sophisticated than its many competitors (and its predecessor).” Jalopnik claims “it’s got a clean, modern look, which is simultaneously inoffensive and handsome,” a winning combination in the midsize crossover class.

Unlike the first-generation Chevy Equinox, which suffered from disappointing late-’90s GM cabin styling themes, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox boasts one of the most attractive interiors in the segment. Car and Driver reports that the Chevrolet Equinox’s “dashboard is easily the most futuristic and detailed in its class, with silver-trimmed, Camaro-like ’squircle’ gauges bracketing a classy CLD containing an array of trip- and vehicle-related data.” Edmunds also loves the “quiet and stylish cabin” that is highlighted by “a dual-cowl dashboard [that] recalls vintage Corvettes,” while the “eye-catching two-tone color schemes make its rivals’ cabins seem dull and unimaginative by comparison.” Cars.com adds that the Equinox Chevrolet’s interior design “is modern yet functional,” which Autoblog confirms by noting that “the controls are well-placed and easy to use, with plenty of storage compartments.”

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8

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a veritable showcase for the “new GM” with its class-leading fuel economy and impressive balance between ride quality and handling.

For the debut of the second-generation Equinox, Chevrolet provides two new engine options, both of which pair with a single six-speed transmission for a combination that offers best-in-class fuel economy.

Drivers will have a choice of two engines when outfitting their 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, both of which offer mid-range acceleration and cruising performance. Car and Driver reviewers report that, “for the first time, the Equinox [Chevrolet] is offered with a four-cylinder engine” putting out 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, while “an available 264-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 serves as the step-up engine (replacing last year’s 3.6-liter V-6).” For most drivers, Jalopnik feels the “DI 2.4-liter with FWD will be totally adequate,” since the engine is “responsive without protest” and “returns a workable 8.7-second 0-to-60 MPH time.” Edmunds agrees that “acceleration with the new four-cylinder engine is quite reasonable for the class and should be good enough for most consumers,” while the “V6 option isn’t as punchy as the outgoing top-of-the-line 3.6-liter V6, but it’s more fuel efficient.” In terms of acceleration numbers, the 3.4-liter propels the Chevy Equinox to 60 mph 7.8 seconds.

All 2010 Chevrolet Equinoxes come equipped with what Car and Driver describes as a “six-speed automatic…with manumatic shifting (still a novelty in this class),” regardless of which engine sits under the hood. Front-wheel drive is standard, but Jalopnik reviewers point out that all Chevy Equinoxes have “optional all-wheel drive.” Automobile Magazine reviewers love the engine/transmission combination, declaring “powertrain refinement is excellent” thanks to the fact that “the transmission shifts smoothly and the Active Noise Cancellation keeps engine noise intrusion to a minimum.” As noted earlier, the Equinox Chevrolet’s six-speed automatic has a manual shift feature, but Car and Driver “see[s] this manual-shifting capability as geared more to those who tow than to gear-rowing enthusiasts.”

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox has got a lot going for it, and if gas prices come anywhere near summer ’08 levels, then the Chevy Equinox’s class-leading fuel efficiency will become another very compelling reason to buy this second-generation crossover. The official EPA estimates for the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox are 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the four-cylinder and AWD transmission, while the FWD and four-cylinder combo gets an astounding 22 mpg city and 32 mpg on the highway. For the V-6, the numbers are somewhat less impressive, although the EPA still rates the FWD V-6 Chevy Equinox at a very respectable 17/25 mpg, with the AWD coming in just behind at 17/24.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com invariably mention top-notch fuel economy, and Jalopnik points out that the Chevy Equinox “beats out the main competition from Honda, Ford, and Toyota in all trim levels in both city and highway figures.” Cars.com states that the Chevy “Equinox’s claim to fame is its gas mileage,” which is better on the highway than the Ford Escape Hybrid (at least when equipped as a FWD four-cylinder).

Vehicles that emphasize fuel economy don’t normally rate too highly on the fun-to-drive scale (think Toyota Prius), but the Chevrolet Equinox surprises more than a few reviewers with its better-than-adequate handling and steering feel. Jalopnik contends that the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox “delivers like its Japanese competitors don’t” when it comes to overall driving performance, claiming “road feel is actually not too bad” and “body control is excellent for the segment.” MyRide.com agrees that the “new Equinox handles better than its predecessor,” with a “more carlike” feel and less lean in turns.

The only serious gripe about the Equinox Chevrolet comes from Automobile Magazine, where reviewers report that the brake’s “pedal feel is lackluster; there’s a mushiness to it that doesn’t inspire confidence,” despite the fact that “the brakes don’t have any trouble bringing this crossover to a halt.”

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

With a generous amount of passenger space and one of the quietest rides available, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is perhaps more deserving of a Cadillac or Buick badge than a Chevy bowtie.  

Chevrolet claims that the second-generation 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a mid-size crossover, but after spending some time in the spacious cabin, you’ll realize there’s significantly more than mid-size room for both passengers and cargo.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is designed to accommodate five occupants, and the airy passenger compartment and flexible seating arrangement makes getting all five situated comfortably a breeze. Autoblog loves that the Chevy Equinox is “especially roomy relative to [its] competitors,” and Car and Driver is pleased to report “the front buckets are far more comfortable and supportive than the chair-shaped balloons that came with the last Equinox.” Jalopnik reviewers are inclined to agree, noting that they “sat in complete comfort for hours of driving” in the Equinox Chevrolet. MyRide.com adds that “the front seats are comfortable and supportive, and they have 10 inches of travel, so drivers of all sizes [will] fit.” While lengthy travel is nothing new for front seats, the fact that the rear seats also travel significantly is a major plus for the Chevy Equinox. Autoblog notes, with the Equinox Chevrolet, “GM has retained the sliding rear seat that can move fore-aft a total of eight inches,” meaning “when pushed back, the 112-inch wheelbase allows for positively luxurious legroom.” Automobile Magazine reviewers say “rear-seat comfort is also aided by a flat floor and seatbacks that recline at three different angles.”

With all the space dedicated to passenger room, you might wonder if the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox sacrifices some cargo-carrying utility in the name of driver and passenger comfort. Fortunately, TheCarConnection.com’s research shows there is still more than ample room for all the gear that five people would need for a long weekend trip. In the rear of the cabin, Cars.com points out “a split-folding backrest lets you partially extend the cargo area to carry a golf bag, for instance, or you can fold down both sections of the seatback to expand the cargo area to 63.7 cubic feet.” Jalopnik reports the Equinox Chevrolet boasts “plenty of storage,” and although Edmunds says trunk space is rather large with the rear seats folded, it’s still “about 6 cubes shy of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but still bigger than the smaller utes like the Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue.” In the passenger area, Car and Driver notes “lots” of “storage cubbies” for whatever small items you might need to stow, and the “elbow-deep center console is equipped with a power port, USB and aux jacks, and, most important, a light in the event that you drop something into that deep abyss.”

One of the areas where GM has made significant improvements of late is interior quality, and the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is at or near the top of the class in nearly every regard. Car and Driver is surprised to find that the materials quality exceed that found on most Toyotas, and “the fact that the Equinox outshined the Honda [CR-V] was unexpected.” Jalopnik is slightly less impressed, but they note “we have to keep price point in mind when we’re talking about this segment, and while we’d have loved soft-touch plastics, you get solidly constructed rubberized plastic—like all the competition.” Unfortunately, MyRide.com feels “the interior materials look and feel like hard plastic.” TheCarConnection.com’s editors can shine some light on the competing descriptions here by pointing out that, although the majority of the Chevy Equinox’s cabin is bathed in top-of-the-class materials, there’s still a stray piece of trim or two that seems too plasticky.

Although not all of the materials can be considered luxurious, there is one element of the Equinox Chevrolet that rivals even the best from Lexus: interior noise levels. A near lack of cabin noise is easily the single biggest surprise reviewers find when testing the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, with Car and Driver raving about the “whisper-quiet Equinox” that is “shockingly calm and vibration-free inside.” Jalopnik adds that “what’s missing from the cabin is noise,” since GM’s “acoustics engineers bent over backwards to make [the Equinox Chevrolet] insanely quiet…the end result is a remarkably quiet cabin. Not just for the segment, for the market.” The trick, according to Automobile Magazine, is an “Active Noise Cancellation system” that “works much like your over-priced Bose Noise Cancelling headphones, using the stereo speakers to emit waves that cancel out certain frequencies.”

Ride quality suffers either moving to the V-6 or models with larger wheels, with Edmunds pointing out “the larger wheels add a little too much impact harshness,” although overall the Chevy Equinox’s “ride is generally civilized and comfortable.”

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox builds on the safety reputation of the first-generation vehicle with additional features.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox debuts with an impressive array of standard safety features and Chevrolet expects the Equinox Chevrolet’s chassis will hold up well during crash tests. Visibility is also improved over the previous generation’s, with drivers now able to enjoy a wide field of view from within the cabin of the Chevy Equinox.

Neither the federal government nor the IIHS have begun testing the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, but Chevrolet has indicated to the editors at TheCarConnection.com that they expect perfect five-star ratings from NHTSA, as well as the IIHS’s top designation, “good,” in all impact tests. Working in Chevrolet’s favor is the fact that the first-generation Equinox Chevrolet earned a mix of four- and five-star ratings from NHTSA, as well as a “good” designation from the IIHS. Stay tuned to TheCarConnection.com for the latest updates on the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox’s crash-test scores.

While you wait for the crash-test scores to come in, feel free to familiarize yourself with the Equinox Chevrolet’s list of standard safety features; it might take some time. According to Edmunds reviewers, the “2010 Chevy Equinox comes standard with antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), traction and stability control.” MyRide.com adds that the Chevy Equinox’s “safety equipment includes dual threshold front airbags, curtain side airbags, front side airbags, a tire-pressure monitor…hill start assist” and OnStar. The two major safety options for the Chevy Equinox are “a rearview camera and rear parking sensors,” according to Edmunds.

Along with its enviable list of standard and optional safety equipment, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox boasts impressive driver visibility, especially for a mid-size crossover. Cars.com raves that “the driving position affords excellent forward views,” although reviewers there also caution that “taller drivers…might notice that the B-pillar blocks the view when checking their left-side blind spot.” Fortunately, Automobile Magazine notes that the available backup camera will provide blind-spot coverage by displaying its feed on the navigation system: “the optional back-up camera displays in the rearview mirror on cars without navigation.”

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

Some buyers might balk at the prospect of a $35,000 Chevy two-row crossover, but features like a rear-seat DVD entertainment system will certainly tempt.

With an MSRP ranging from the low $22,000 range up to a fully optioned $37,000, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox spans several budget categories. While it’s not as cheap as some of the vehicles in its class, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the Equinox Chevrolet is still a bargain thanks to its high-tech features and solid construction.

Standard equipment on the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox varies significantly according to trim level, but Edmunds notes that all versions of the Chevy Equinox get “cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, power front seat height adjustment, a sliding and reclining backseat…and a six-speaker stereo (with CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack).” MyRide.com reports that buyers interested in the Equinox Chevrolet in LT trim get “upgraded cloth upholstery, floor mats, a compass, tinted glass, heated mirrors and a roof rack.” The top two trims, the 2LT and LTZ, both get “Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port for controlling your iPod,” according to Automobile Magazine, while audiophiles will be treated to “an eight-speaker Pioneer audio system and audio controls on the steering wheel.”

With the 2010 Equinox, Chevrolet has made high-tech gear an integral part of the options package; goodies ranging from a voice-recognition navigation system to rear parking sensors are available, but the associated price tags are steep. Beginning with the more mundane, Automobile Magazine says “an optional power liftgate opens to a programmable height to keep you from smacking the roof of your garage with your Equinox.”

Moving to the more interesting features, MyRide.com states that “remote engine starting and a leather-wrapped steering wheel” are available, along with “leather seats” and “heated front seats.” One of the real crowd-pleasers on the Chevy Equinox’s options list is the rear entertainment system, which Automobile Magazine reports features “two eight-inch monitors [that] are placed on the rear of the front seatbacks.” Last but not least, Cars.com notes that the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox offers a “touch-screen navigation system, which features a 40GB hard drive that can store songs” and is available for an additional $2,145.

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December 8, 2016
2010 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

Stay Away!!!

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I along with many others have had the worst experience with my 2010 Chevy Equinox. I purchased the car new, with an extended warranty that covered everything and anything that went wrong with the car, and I am... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2010 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

spacious interior handles well 32mpg on trips, 26.5 in town

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Purchased July 2009 Only repairs were for a new battery and rear tail light at 77,745 miles. Good service at Battlefield Chevy in Culpeper, VA
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