Hate it or love it, the crossover market is expanding at a rapid rate. Automakers are investing lots of time and energy in this space and all the competitors are pretty solid choices. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox should handle all that competition pretty well.
Aimed squarely at the Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Toyota RAV4, the 2010 Equinox is arguably the best looking vehicle in the segment and uses some of the most advanced technology under the hood. Equipped with the base 2.4-liter inline-four and front-wheel drive, the Equinox should be rated at 21/30 mpg, thanks to direct injection, a six-speed transmission, and a few aerodynamic tricks (Equinox boasts a 0.36 drag coefficient).
Those looking for a bit more thrust than the 2.4-liter's 182 hp can step up to a 3.0-liter V-6, which pumps out 255 hp and returns a respectable 18/25 mpg (again, thanks in part to direct injection) on front-wheel drive models. For comparison, a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu with the 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed transmission manages 17/26 mpg. It seems the crossover can be as efficient as a mid-size sedan, which certainly makes the entire segment more palatable these days.
Though the previous-generation Equinox was rather forgettable, this 2010 Chevrolet Equinox does a better job of attracting attention, even if it does look a little more like a GMC Acadia than a Chevrolet Traverse from the side. Chevrolet's new corporate face looks quite handsome up front and those good looks wrap all the way around to the power liftgate in back. Slip inside and the Equinox is just as enticing.
Though Chevrolet seems to have borrowed a page from the Honda/Acura playbook while designing the center stack controls, the buttons seem to be placed more intuitively, and using different color buttons for HVAC and audio controls shouldn't be too confusing. In an age of touch-screen infotainment systems, iDrive, COMAND, and MMI, the array of buttons and knobs seems a bit counterintuitive. We won't know for sure until we get a chance to spend some time behind the wheel.
The rest of the interior is quite nice and there is a variety of optional equipment to keep passengers happy. A plethora of storage options include a large glove box, a center bin large enough to conceal a laptop, and enough cup holders for the family. There's also elegant blue ambient lighting, which looks very upscale in the dark. Important offerings like Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB audio support, a DVD entertainment system in the rear, available hard drive-based radios, a rear-view camera, and a power, programmable liftgate allow customers to option the Equinox to be quite lavish.
Those looking to replace their family trickster by summer should at least consider the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. Configurations range from a basic fuel sipper up to a near-luxury vehicle with 255 hp and all-wheel drive, so there should be an offering to fit most needs. Expect to see the new Equinox hitting dealer lots by summer.
To read more about the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, go to our 2009 Detroit auto show blogs coverage. All the latest blogs from the Editors of Automobile Magazine can be found HERE. We've got our whole staff wandering the floor at Cobo Hall bringing back live photos and more information about all the new debuts from Detroit.
For complete coverage of the 2009 Detroit auto show, click HERE.