2016 Chevrolet Equinox Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 15, 2016

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox has one of the most spacious, quiet, and versatile interiors among smaller crossovers, and it loads on the value.

The Chevrolet Equinox is the brand's second-best selling vehicle in North America and has been holding steady in a sweet spot for crossover-vehicle popularity. Only the Silverado full-size pickups are better sellers for Chevy.

For 2016, the Chevy Equinox not much is updated that would disrupt its appeal. Rather, it gets a light refresh that brightens and sharpens this crossover's exterior look, warms up the cabin look and feel, and makes the feature set a little more straightforward and safety-conscious.

Compact utility vehicles in general have been all the rage, with lots of families trading in sedans in favor of them. Yet the Equinox has managed to woo busy parents even more effectively with maneuverability, excellent fuel economy, and an interior that's just a little bit larger and more configurable than what you get in most other compact crossovers.

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Chevrolet vehicles have been given a new dual-port grille design over the past couple of years, and now the Equinox steps in with the rest of the lineup; accompanying the new grille is a more sculpted lower front fascia design, as well as new reflector-style headlamps on all models, with LED running lamps on the LT and LTZ. The top LTZ gets new fog lamps, while V-6 models get chrome exhaust outlets; additionally new wheels, revised lower fascias, and more brightwork all around serve to update the look. Otherwise the Equinox continues with essentially the same handsome sheet metal and profile it's had since 2010—which has aged quite well, considering. As for the interior, the Equinox gets an equivalent brightening, with new chrome shift buttons, new graphics for the instrument panel, a redesigned center stack with a new storage shelf. Fabrics have been redesigned on the L and LS models while there's a new Saddle Up interior color.

What's under the hood doesn't change this year, and that's fine. The 2.4-liter direct-injection inline-4, making 182 hp, is one of the most fuel-efficient engines in its class—and plenty quick for most family needs, while it renews its 32-mpg EPA highway rating in front-wheel-drive guise. Both that engine or the available 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 come paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Equinox is offered in a streamlined lineup of L, LS, LT, and LTZ models; the L will likely be fleet-minded and is front-wheel-drive only, while the rest of the lineup offers available all-wheel drive. The V-6 is offered only on the LT and LTZ, and we tend to think that while it's smooth and strong, it isn't quick enough to justify the significant increase in thirst; it does however allow a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.

In a sea of compact crossovers, it's easy to see why the Equinox floats to the top for so many buyers. Chevrolet's compact-plus crossover brings together many attributes that make it such a stellar pick for families: tons of room, advanced technology, enhanced safety, and refinement, all wrapped in an affordable package. The Equinox makes easy work of errands, daily commuting, and the family road trip.

The Chevrolet Equinox is just a little bit larger than most compact crossovers, which translates to some extra wiggle room inside when you need to balance cargo and passengers. In that respect, the Equinox feels designed for the ins and outs of family use, with a rear bench that can slide fore and aft, offering up to 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the seat still up, or nearly 64 cubic feet with the seatbacks flipped down.

Front seating is quite good and the driving position is excellent and car-like, while back seats have enough space for two adults to sprawl out into, with decent legroom, and the seatbacks are adjustable for rake. You also get plenty of cubbies for smaller items, as well as a deep center console and two wells, a retractable cargo cover, and a stretchy net all good for grocery bags between the two deep cargo wells in back. Chevrolet is now also offering tablet holders that attach to the rear of the front seats.

The Equinox has earned a good reputation for safety, with four- and five-star federal ratings plus top "Good" ratings from the IIHS in all categories, including the tough small overlap frontal test for this year. The SUV earned the IIHS' Top Safety Pick designation for 2016.

The feature set of the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox has changed a bit, as 1LT and 2LT models are dropped in favor of a streamlined model lineup of five trims. Pricing and value have been strong points for the Equinox in the past, and Chevrolet is expanding the seven-inch Color Touch radio, with Bluetooth connectivity, to affordable L and LS models. Enhanced MyLink connectivity on upscale models adds enhanced connectivity for apps, including integrated Pandora and Stitcher. Last year, OnStar added 4G LTE connectivity and the capability to create a wi-fi hotspot.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

The Equinox gets a light refresh inside and out; it already was a handsome crossover SUV.

The minor styling update bestowed upon the 2016 Equinox brings the model out of the anonymous crowd slightly, with a more modern front-end look and a better tie to the latest Chevy designs.

Chevrolet vehicles have been given a new dual-port grille design over the past couple of years, and now the Equinox steps in with the rest of the lineup; accompanying the new grille is a more sculpted lower front fascia design, as well as new reflector-style headlamps on all models, with LED running lamps on the LT and LTZ. The top LTZ gets new fog lamps, while V-6 models get chrome exhaust outlets; additionally new wheels, revised lower fascias, and more brightwork all around serve to update the look. The taillights adopt a two-square look like most other Chevy models, and there's new chrome trim on the tail for LTZ editions. Otherwise the Equinox continues with essentially the same handsome sheet metal and profile it's had since 2010—which has aged quite well, considering.

The Equinox sports more than a passing resemblance to its larger sibling, the three-row Chevrolet Traverse. But Chevy's compact offering turns up truckier styling cues to show a slightly rugged, utilitarian character in its exterior sheetmetal. Still, the Equinox doesn't look out of place when compared to Chevrolet's line of sedans.

As for the interior, the 2016 Equinox gets an equivalent brightening, with new chrome shift buttons, new graphics for the instrument panel, and a redesigned center stack with a new storage shelf. Fabrics have been upgraded on the L and LS models for a better feeling of quality and there's also a new Saddle Up interior color.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

Don't expect sportscar responsiveness; the Equinox is frugal in four-cylinder form, perky with the V-6.

The Equinox's long-awaited update for the 2016 model year—it's been on sale in this form since 2010—surprisingly didn't make any adjustments to the mechanicals. Chevy's small crossover soldiers on with acceptable dynamics and mid-pack power and efficiency from either the base 4-cylinder or optional V-6.

Direct injection and variable valve timing make the Equinox's the base 2.4-liter inline-4 a high-tech choice in the segment. And with 182 horsepower on tap, real-world performance is spot on—and beyond what its nine-second 0-60 mph time might suggest. The 2.4 suffers from more direct-injection tick than comparable DI engines, but that tech provides power to motivate the Equinox when fully laden with passengers and cargo; it's a very small price to pay for performance and efficiency.

It makes A 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 is the upgrade engine. Significantly thirstier than the base four, it still might be worth considering if you plan on hitting the Rockies or towing ATVs and the like. It's one of the only 6-cylinder crossovers left in this segment, as many others have switched to turbocharged 4-cylinders and even naturally aspirated fours alone. 

The engine choice, along with a choice between front- and all-wheel drive with either powertrain, should give most shoppers what they want for their family needs.

The two six-speed automatic transmissions feature short lower gears and much taller upper gears to find a balance between off-the-line performance and freeway fuel efficiency. But gear changes are met with jerky hesitation at times, especially when climbing a grade or managing the stop-and-go of rush-hour traffic. Should you elect to swap cogs on your own, the Equinox's shifter is home to a rocking plus-minus switch instead of the ubiquitous, and preferred, steering-wheel-mounted paddles/buttons or selectable shifter gate.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

The Equinox has great interior space, and a sliding second-row seat that flexes its cargo and passenger room.

The Chevrolet Equinox is a nice-sized, versatile crossover option for families that don't need a third row of seats. It's more manageable in tight parking lots than the larger, three-row Chevy Traverse crossover, and it's more spacious than most compact crossovers on the market today.

A neutral driving position provided by an upright, supportive driver's seat is not unlike one in a family sedan. LTZ models add luxury touches, such as leather, dual-tone seats with exposed cross-stitching. Moving to the second row, a seat with adjustable seatbacks, good headroom, and acceptable legroom provide enough space for two adults to sit comfortably on longer trips.

Cabin and materials and trims are, with a few exceptions, far from bargain-basement—although a few odd cheap-feeling details here and there have let it down in previous versions. The 2016 model's interior refresh improves or removes some of those surfaces, which is a welcome change. The 2016 base models—L and LS—receive improved seating fabric, something we found lacking previously. And the remodel has streamlined the look of the interior, jettisoning some of the distracting trim pieces while adding a handy shelf in the center stack.

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, 4-cylinder models are nearly as quiet and refined as V-6 models once you're underway (you do hear the clatter of the four a bit more at idle, however). Wind noise is well shut out, with triple door seals and glass with integral sound damping.

The Equinox's well suited for family vacations, with a comfortable ride and storage space for nearly anything you'll bring along. A retractable cargo cover, stretchy net, and two deep cargo wells all keep items in place and out of sight, 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.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

Crash-test scores have been good, not perfect, with the latest Equinox.

We are happy to report that Chevy has made a rearview camera standard on all trim levels for 2016, which somewhat alleviates our previous complaints about the poor rearward visibility. The 2016 models also get newly optional active-safety items that bring the Equinox in line with its competitors.

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS thanks to its "Good" ratings on all crashes, including the notoriously difficult small overlap front crash. Federal safety officials have given the Equinox similar—but not stellar—marks as well: the Equinox managed a four-star overall rating, including four stars on frontal- and rollover-crash protection.

StabiliTrak stability control and four-wheel disc brakes keep you out of harm's way, while a full complement of airbags--including head-curtain side and seat-mounted pelvic/thorax bags--protecting you from the unavoidable come as standard equipment in the Equinox. A rearview camera is now standard kit for 2016, too.

Blind-spot monitors and cross-traffic alerts are now available on LT and LTZ models, and both forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are offered as part of a safety package. As we've noted in the past, the one safety inadequacy pertains to outward visibility, which can be challenging due to the thick rear pillars. Oversized blind-spot mirrors try their best to counter this, but we recommend you pay close attention when merging and changing lanes.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

The Equinox is well-equipped; this year, it adds Bluetooth and touchscreen radios to base models.

The Equinox continues to be a good value among crossovers of its size. The features list is long: intuitive infotainment, convenience features aplenty, and even some active safety measures, too. For 2016, most models see an upgrade to their standard equipment, and there are also some new options.

The lineup has been streamlined for 2016, with four models available: L, LS, LT, and LTZ. All models now come with a touchscreen infotainment interface; L and LS get a 7.0-inch color touchscreen with Bluetooth phone pairing, while the LT and LTZ continue with Chevy's MyLink head unit, which adds smartphone-streaming and other features. MyLink includes voice activation for easier connectivity for hands-free calling or media access, as well as integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls, plus the allowance for a connected navigation system.

Standard equipment even on base Equinox L models includes air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, the aforementioned touch-screen head unit, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

The LS adds the option for all-wheel drive and some other minor convenience items. A rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system, leather seating, heated seats, steering-wheel audio/phone controls, a sunroof, 17-inch wheels, and remote start are options on the LS.

LT models add standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, keyless ignition, an anti-theft system, one year of OnStar service free, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls. They also add MyLink for infotainment.

Top-of-the-line LTZ models get perforated-leather upholstery, memory seat settings, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and both forward collision warning and lane departure warning—both useful features that might help avoid an accident. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert systems are available on the LT and LTZ models.

New for the 2015 model year, the Chevrolet Equinox uses an OnStar system with a 4G LTE data connection. It can be configured to establish an in-car wi-fi network with that connection, and Chevy includes a three-month/3 GB trial with each new vehicle.

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2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Fuel Economy

Equinox SUVs with a 4-cylinder get excellent EPA ratings; even the V-6 has decent fuel economy ratings.

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox carried over mechanically unchanged from 2015 so ratings haven't changed year-over-year.

The Equinox's ratings by the EPA of 22 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined for the base 4-cylinder model with front-wheel drive make it one of the better non-hybrid crossovers in terms of fuel economy. Stepping up to all-wheel drive, mileage drops to 20/29/23 mpg, which still good for a comfortably sized crossover. All 4-cylinder models come with an "Eco" button that activates a mode with more conservative air-conditioning operation, earlier torque-converter lockup, and different shift points.

The V-6 model of the Chevrolet Equinox remains thirsty, but it has ample torque to move you around town. We recommend the 4-cylinder for all but those who need to tow with their Equinox occasionally. EPA ratings for the 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 are decent but unimpressive, for those who care about mileage: 16/23/18 mpg with all-wheel drive and 17/24/20 mpg with front-wheel drive.

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September 13, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT

A stand out suv for the money

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With just over 200 miles of getting familiar with everything on the vehicle we went on a vacation driving over 5000 miles. The Equinox is equipped with the 4 cylinder engine and I recorded each fill up and... + More »
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August 18, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LTZ

For a good median size SUV You can't beat it.

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A great V6 two complaints side pillows too thick and MPG should be better.
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July 3, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LS

Beautiful machinellll

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This rides so smoothly remember that. Has the pickup and go for a 4 cylinder. Can't wait to get the LT.... this is truly and cool SUV. not like some SUV's.... Sharp looking especially after the tinting... + More »
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June 24, 2016
For 2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Poor Quality

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The initial quality reviews missed a very significant quality issue with the interior the dashboard and interior door panels do not match up the so called experts should take another look at the 2016 Equinox
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March 15, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT

Exceeded expectations

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Very nice vehicle with a number of desired features even at a lower style. Next time I will get the 6 cylinder and even more features.
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January 27, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LT

UNDER POWERED WITH 4 CYLINDER

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NICE RIDE UNDER POWERED WITH 4 CYLINDER EXCELLENT HANDLING IN SNOW
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December 24, 2015
For 2016 Chevrolet Equinox

Buyer beware

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I purchased a 2016 Equinox LTZ in December complete with factory trailer hitch. According to the Equinox broucher the Equinox tows up to 3500 lbs with dealer installed trailer hitch. It also states pull your... + More »
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October 8, 2015
2016 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 4-Door LT

Driving comfort

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Ok. I am not an owner of an equinox, but I just had one as a courtesy car when my vehicle was in for repair. At first I LOVED how the seat molded to me. I was really comfortable. It was when I got out of the... + More »
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April 28, 2015
For 2016 Chevrolet Equinox

2013 Chevy Equinox

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I love my equinox! I originally wanted the Tahoe but couldn't afford it. The Equinox has the space, and the zoom I need right now!
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