The Equinox is motivated by 185-hp version of GM's veteran 3.4-liter OHV V-6, which is made in China, at Shanghai GM. Turning out a respectable 210 lb-ft of torque at a somewhat elevated 3,800 rpm, it's mated to a new, and commendably smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic transmission. This duo propels the Equinox from 0-60 mph in under nine seconds and allows it to tow up to 3,500 lbs when fitted with the optional trailering kit. As with most soft-roaders, AWD models do not offer a dual-range transfer case.
Behind the Wheel
The Equinox is decidedly most at home in cruise mode--although cruise control itself is optional. A strong central structure and fully independent suspension matched with a long wheelbase and wide track make it feel solid and stable. Pressing the Equinox hard into a corner does evoke a fair amount of body roll and predictable push, but there's little sensation of tippiness. Save for some low-speed impact harshness and tire drone on certain road surfaces, overall comfort and isolation levels also are quite good. A command seating position affords excellent forward visibility, but wide roof pillars impinge upon sightlines and make the large, power-adjustable side-view mirrors invaluable. GM's MagnaSteer electric power steering helps trim fuel consumption--both FWD and AWD models earn solid 19/25 mpg EPA ratings--but is remarkably devoid of real feel. The Equinox also has a large 41.8-foot turning circle, nearly equal to Chevy's full-size Suburban. In town and on the freeway, the Equinox can easily pace the pack. Its limits only move to the fore on extended uphill pulls or high-intensity passing moves. While all variants are fitted with disc/drum brakes, ABS (optional on LS, standard on LT) also brings driver-selectable traction control. The on-demand all-wheel-drive system only ships power to the front wheels until slippage is sensed. It's a great confidence enhancer in inclement weather conditions, but it does little to expand the vehicle's modest off-roading potential.
The Equinox emphasizes flexibility and interior space. Its effortlessly reconfigurable passenger compartment will please owners who want an SUV as capable of taking the family to a Little League game as it is toting bags of peat moss back from the local DIY center. Fun-to-drive fanatics would be advised to steer clear, but if room and livability are your top priorities, the Equinox merits a serious look. Its toughest challenge is playing in a segment currently awash in first-rate competitors, many with equally compelling value stories and attractive pricepoints.
Light on sport but long on utility, the attractively priced Equinox has the kind of features, flexibility, and interior room that will impress buyers who value practicality over performance.