If GM made a station wagon out of its successful Chevrolet Malibu, I imagine the result would look a lot like this new Equinox. Chevy's small crossover receives a well-deserved makeover for 2010, and although the taut lines suggest otherwise, the latest Equinox is approximately the same size as its bloated-looking predecessor.
Still, the Equinox has shed a considerable amount of weight, thanks largely in part to the use of this direct-injection 2.4-liter I-4. The four-banger produces nearly as much power as the outgoing Chinese-built 3.4-liter V-6 (182 hp vs. 185) yet is inherently more fuel efficient. GM touted the lengths it's gone to make the four-banger feel refined; for the most part, it does feel smooth, although the engine tends to drone during long stretches of wide-open throttle.
If there's one compromise to be found, it's in the interior. Joe Lorio's right -- GM's designers absolutely nailed the design and feel -- but the cabin shrunk in the process. There's 8.1 cubic feet less of interior space in the new model, and that's perhaps most obvious in the cargo area, which shrinks by 3.8 and 4.9 cubic feet, depending on if the rear seats are upright or folded. Still, there's plenty of headroom and shoulder room for passengers in front and in back -- commendable, considering their available space shrunk by 5.3 cubic feet.
Overall, this new Equinox is attractive and thrifty enough to attract buyers ($2500 premium be damned), but the drive experience could use additional refinement. My colleagues have already noted the lifeless power steering rack, but I noted a considerable amount of brake pedal travel before the disc brakes began to bite hard. Still, who's expecting the four-cylinder Equinox to put the "sport" in "sport utility?"
Evan McCausland, Web Producer