What's New for 2010
The Chevrolet Equinox has been completely redesigned for 2010. It has sleek new styling inside and out, a more fuel-efficient engine lineup and a lower price.
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is of paramount importance for the new GM. You could think of it as the number-one draft pick for an 0-16 team or the make-or-break third album after a sophomore stinker. Small crossovers have become the best-selling SUVs, but the segment has been dominated by Honda and Toyota. GM needs a winner to unseat them. Thankfully for us consumers, GM's desperation has resulted in just that.
The original Equinox was a decent vehicle, notable for its spacious cabin and peppy yet fuel-efficient V6, but it didn't offer enough character or refinement to grab attention in a crowded, competitive marketplace. The new 2010 Equinox shares its basic underpinnings with last year's version, but is otherwise entirely new. Under the hood resides a new base engine, a torquey four-cylinder that offers best-in-class fuel economy and competitive acceleration. A new direct-injected 3.0-liter V6 option isn't as punchy as the outgoing top-of-the-line 3.6-liter V6, but it's more fuel efficient.
While the efficiency of these new engines is praise-worthy, it's the Equinox's complete stem-to-stern design overhaul that should really garner attention. With a bold yet classy face and soft curves, the Equinox looks more grown-up and sophisticated than its many competitors (and its predecessor). Inside, a snazzy new control panel and eye-catching two-tone color schemes make its rivals' cabins seem dull and unimaginative by comparison. It represents the latest effort by GM to improve its interiors, and this is certainly an early sign of success. An abundance of acoustic insulation and a noise-canceling system (yep, like those Bose headphones) also make the Equinox one of the quietest vehicles in the class.
There is one major downside, though. Despite being a bigger vehicle than the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4, the Equinox provides less cargo capacity. It's not a huge difference, but it hampers the Chevy's utilitarian purpose. Nevertheless, utility is only one key to victory in this segment. The 2010 Chevy Equinox otherwise offers everything that shoppers in this segment are looking for: a spacious passenger compartment, fuel efficiency, strong value and appealing styling. GM needs a winner, and the Equinox could be it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover SUV available in LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ trim levels. Standard equipment for the LS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, power front seat height adjustment, a sliding and reclining backseat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, OnStar and a six-speaker stereo (with CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack). The 1LT adds tinted rear windows, roof rails, upgraded cloth upholstery, a compass and the availability of certain features that are standard on the upper trims. When equipped with the optional V6 engine, 18-inch wheels are added.
The 2LT adds foglights, remote ignition, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB audio jack and an eight-speaker Pioneer stereo. The LTZ adds automatic headlights, power tailgate, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, driver memory functions and heated front seats. Many of these features are optional on the 2LT.
The 2LT and LTZ can be equipped with a rear entertainment system and a navigation system (the latter includes a touchscreen interface, voice recognition and a 40GB hard drive for digital music storage). The LTZ V6 can be outfitted with optional 19-inch chrome-clad wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Chevy Equinox comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Optional on all but the LS is a 3.0-liter V6 good for 264 hp and 222 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive; all-wheel drive is optional.
Fuel economy is impressive; an Equinox four-cylinder with front-wheel drive achieves an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. All-wheel drive lowers these estimates to 20/29/23. An Equinox V6 with front-wheel drive gets an estimated 17/25/20, with all-wheel-drive versions dropping 1 mpg on the highway.
The 2010 Chevy Equinox comes standard with antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and OnStar. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
The redesigned Chevy Equinox features a cabin high on style. A dual-cowl dashboard recalls vintage Corvettes, while the available two-tone color schemes contrast sharply from the somber seas of black, beige and gray found in competitors. In total, this Chevy feels a step-above the rest.
The Equinox gets slick new stereo and climate controls, which are a pleasant departure from the cookie-cutter units found in virtually every GM model that doesn't wear a Cadillac badge. Although a bit button-heavy, these controls are better suited for operating the Equinox's high-tech navigation and entertainment options -- though some drivers may find the audio controls difficult to reach.
The outgoing Equinox was one of the biggest vehicles in its class, and the new one is no different. As before, the backseat is quite spacious, capable of reclining and sliding forward to allow easy access to child seats and/or expand cargo capacity. As such, cargo space behind the backseat is 31.4 cubic feet. It expands to 63.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That's about 6 cubes shy of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but still bigger than smaller utes like the Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue.
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox's acceleration with the new four-cylinder engine is quite reasonable for the class and should be good enough for most consumers -- especially given its conservative fuel consumption. The new direct-injected V6 doesn't pack the same low-end punch as the outgoing 3.6-liter V6, but its 264-hp output is second only to the RAV4.
On the move, the new Equinox is impressively quiet. The Equinox's ride is generally civilized and comfortable, but we suggest sticking with the 17-inch wheels with the four-cylinder, as the larger wheels add a little too much impact harshness. Handling capabilities, as with the previous Equinox, are nothing special, and to call the electric power steering vague would be to imply it actually conveys something to the driver's hands from the front tires -- it doesn't.