Chevrolet Equinox Review

The Chevrolet Equinox remains popular with shoppers looking for a compact crossover SUV despite no fundamental changes for seven years. There was a minor V6 engine update, some front- and rear-end styling updates, and small feature updates, but nothing compared to the larger overhauls of some of its rivals in this same span. In a sense, Chevy got the package right in the first place and filled in the details as it went along.

In the meantime, the Equinox's rivals continued to reshape and refine to the wishes of crossover buyers seeking more power, better ride quality, cutting-edge driver assistance features and advanced connected technology.

The newest version of the Equinox fixes most of its deficiencies. It's smaller and lighter than before, and offers three fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, including a turbodiesel. The new Equinox also manages a rare feat in that its smaller dimensions don't dramatically impact passenger room. There's still plenty of leg- and headroom for tall occupants. Some of that downsizing comes at the expense of cargo space, however, where the Equinox comes up short relative to its rivals.

Current Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier.

The base L comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot connection, a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker audio system.

The next-level LS is nearly the same but adds rear floor mats, a spare tire and a jack. More importantly, it offers an expanded range of exterior colors and optional all-wheel drive. The LT adds xenon headlights, an eight-way power driver seat and satellite radio. Options include a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, an 8-inch touchscreen and several USB charging ports.

The range-topping Premier includes many of the features already mentioned, as well as 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, roof rails, a hands-free liftgate, leather upholstery and wireless device charging. Options are many and include a top-down, 360-degree parking camera system, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, lane departure warning, navigation, and Chevy's safety-alert driver seat (which vibrates the seat bottom cushion if a collision seems imminent).

A turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (170 horsepower, 203 pound-feet of torque) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission is the base engine setup. There are two options that will be available on late 2018 models: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (252 hp, 260 lb-ft) with a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel (137 hp, 240 lb-ft).

Our early impressions of Equinox performance with the 1.5-liter engine are underwhelming. The engine feels refined, but the slow-shifting transmission hinders acceleration. We're more impressed with overall ride comfort, comfortable front seats, and ample head- and legroom all around. Cargo space, however — arguably one of the key reasons to buy a crossover — is smaller than most in the class at 29.9 cubic feet.

Used Chevrolet Equinox Models
The second-generation Chevrolet Equinox spanned the 2010-'17 model years, a long period in the rapidly evolving crossover segment.

The second-generation car improved on its predecessor with sleek exterior and interior styling, more fuel-efficient engines and a lower price. Not much changed for the Equinox after its debut, however. It initially offered four different trim levels. Lower trims came with useful features such as roof rails, power front seats, and a sliding and reclining rear seat, while upper trims added a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and upgraded audio systems that included voice commands and a 40GB hard drive for music files.

Power came from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (182 hp, 172 lb-ft of torque) or an optional 3.0-liter V6 (264 hp, 222 lb-ft). Both engines paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive was optional.

Features including forward collision alert, lane departure warning and heated seats showed up in the following two years, while a new 3.6-liter V6 (301 hp, 272 lb-ft) replaced the 3.0-liter in 2013. A revised touchscreen, power passenger seat and Chevy's MyLink smartphone software showed up that same year, while the base L trim level and Wi-Fi hotspot connection was added in 2015.

Front and rear styling updates, upgraded cloth upholstery and a 7-inch touchscreen became standard equipment in 2016, along with optional blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. For the final model year of the second-generation, the LTZ trim level was renamed Premier and some new option and appearance packages were also available.

We generally liked the second-gen Equinox, especially its roomy, sliding and reclining rear seat, smooth ride quality and quiet cabin. Underwhelming four-cylinder power and inferior cargo space kept it from topping our lists, however, especially as key rivals offered more power and better fuel economy. If you're considering a model from this era, we recommend the V6, more specifically the 3.6-liter introduced in 2013.

The first-generation Chevy Equinox was produced from 2005 to 2009. Unlike the current model, it came with a standard V6, and the only optional engine was an even more powerful V6 that arrived for 2008. A wide range of trim levels were available. Even base models came with a CD player and full power accessories, while upper trim levels, depending on the year, added features such as alloy wheels, leather seating, heated front seats and upgraded audio. The late-arriving Sport model added the stouter V6, bigger wheels and a firmer suspension.

All first-generation Chevrolet Equinox models except the Sport were equipped with a 3.4-liter V6 that generated 185 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. The Sport stepped up to a 3.6-liter V6 that made a potent 264 hp. Both engines were mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that directed power to the front wheels, and all-wheel drive was optional.

In reviews of the first-generation Chevy Equinox, our editors praised its versatile interior, particularly the 60/40-split rear seat that could be slid almost 8 inches fore and aft. An adjustable rear cargo shelf enhanced storage opportunities and doubled as a picnic table. We noted that there was lots of room behind the rear seats — 35 cubic feet, to be precise — and a full 69 cubic feet with those seats folded, which is more than the current Equinox can muster.

On the road, however, this Equinox wasn't very impressive. Long drives were a breeze, thanks to the quiet cabin and smooth ride, but the base V6 was a bit coarse, and the electric power steering was numb and sluggish.

Notable changes over the course of the first-generation Equinox's production cycle include standard antilock brakes for 2006; standard stability control and four-wheel disc brakes and an optional navigation system for 2007; the arrival of the Sport model and luxurious LTZ model for 2008; and standard side curtain airbags and satellite radio with optional Bluetooth for 2009.