Peppy performance, seamless power delivery, petroleum-free fuel, zero emissions.
Lack of hydrogen filling stations makes mass production unlikely, 180-mile range trails traditional gas-powered vehicles.
Other than the "Fuel Cell" decals and opalescent paint job, the hydrogen-powered 2008 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell Prototype seems like your garden-variety compact SUV — until you turn the key. The futuristic soundtrack that ensues is a cross between Doc Brown's DeLorean and an industrial-grade freezer. It crackles and fizzes like the Flux Capacitor while "STARTING, PLEASE WAIT" appears in the gauge cluster, then settles into a vibrant hum reminiscent of the ice cream aisle. Turn it off and you're treated to a great hissing sigh, followed by more whirring and popping noises.
OK, so this Equinox is a little different. But if you believe the folks at GM, it might amount to a sneak preview of the post-petroleum future. Hydrogen is plentiful, renewable and non-polluting — and as the Equinox Fuel Cell's sprightly and ultra-smooth performance demonstrates, this ubiquitous element is more than capable of fueling our beloved four-wheeled conveyances.
So what's the catch? Well, for starters, you can't buy one yet. But that's not for a lack of technological readiness; rather, what's lacking is infrastructure. As of this writing, there are 66 operational hydrogen refueling stations in the U.S., according to the National Hydrogen Association, and most of them are clustered in California and the Northeast. It's a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma: Automakers won't mass-produce fuel cell vehicles until the infrastructure is there, and there won't be significant private investment in infrastructure until fuel cell vehicles are being mass-produced.
Be that as it may, Chevrolet let us borrow one of its roughly 100 hydrogen-powered Equinoxes for a week, and we're here to tell you how it drives. In a nutshell: well. Make that very well. The average American commuter could switch to an Equinox Fuel Cell today and never miss gasoline — it's that good. If the age of the hydrogen-powered car never dawns, it certainly won't be for a lack of effort on Chevy's part.
The front-wheel-drive 2008 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by a complex system consisting of an electric motor, a fuel cell stack, a power management and distribution module (PMD), and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The vehicle runs on hydrogen, which is stored in compressed form within three rear-mounted, carbon-fiber-encased tanks. The fuel cell stack combines the stored hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, which the PMD then routes to the electric motor along with electricity from the battery pack. The motor, in turn, sends up to 93 kilowatts of energy to the front wheels — enough electricity to power 10 homes, says GM. The only emissions byproduct is water vapor, which escapes via four outlets in the rear fascia.
Torque output is rated at a formidable 236 pound-feet, which is available whenever you depress the throttle. We recorded a 0-60-mph sprint of 9.6 seconds in this portly 4,357-pound SUV, a huge improvement over Chevy's projected 12.0-second jaunt. Even more impressive is the refined way in which the Equinox Fuel Cell accelerates. Thanks to the single-speed transmission, there are no shifts to interrupt the power flow, and that instantaneous torque makes the Equinox feel downright quick at times. Despite its prototype status, this powertrain is unequivocally ready for prime time. Most drivers would be perfectly content with its combination of golf-cart smoothness and adequate acceleration.
Otherwise, the Equinox Fuel Cell drives pretty much like any other Equinox, which isn't a bad thing. The ride is well-damped, yet not unduly soft. The electric power steering is surprisingly responsive, with little play on-center and unexpectedly sporty weighting through corners. Body control is good until the low-rolling-resistance tires start to squeal, and a 60.4-mph slalom speed is nothing to sneeze at for an efficiency-minded prototype. Braking performance, at a class-competitive 134 feet from 60 to zero mph, is also laudable considering the Equinox's prototype status, substantial mass and regenerative braking function.
One aspect of the Equinox Fuel Cell's powertrain that could use some work is its operating range. GM projects a real-world range of 150-180 miles, or barely half of what typical gasoline-powered vehicles can achieve. Complicating matters is the fact that some pumps only dispense hydrogen at 350 bar, or 5,000 psi, whereas the Equinox Fuel Cell is capable of storing it at a denser 700 bar (10,000 psi). Limited to a 350-bar fill, the Equinox's already limited range is cut in half.
Road noise is average inside the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell, but overall sound levels are eerily low due to the near total absence of engine noise. At a constant cruise, the Equinox hums along like a maglev train; roll into the throttle and the hum rises to a stirring but unobtrusive crescendo.
The seats are upholstered in a space-age blue material with black mesh accents, conjuring up images of a ride at Epcot Center. Seat comfort is satisfactory, but there are only two seats in back rather than the usual three. Leg- and headroom are ample all around.
The Equinox Fuel Cell's climate controls are certifiably idiot-proof, consisting of three large knobs that are unmistakable for anything else. In an unconventional nod to BMWs past, the power window switches are mounted on the center console. The stereo faceplate features easily deciphered buttons, though sound quality is strictly average. Cargo volume is relatively limited due to the hydrogen tanks and non-folding rear seats, measuring a mere 32 cubic feet.
Design/Fit and Finish
Aside from the pricey paint job, eye-catching decals and larger cooling ducts up front, the Equinox Fuel Cell looks like, well, an Equinox. That means the exterior design is handsome enough, in a forgettable sort of way. Inside, the Equinox Fuel Cell mixes standard Equinox elements with high-quality seating materials. Fit and finish wasn't the greatest in our test vehicle, but that's obviously not the point.
Who should consider this vehicle
Not applicable, as this is simply a prototype that's not available to the public. And frankly, we're not sure it will be in the future. With the $100,000 Tesla Roadster showing the way, plug-in electric cars may ultimately steal hydrogen's thunder, offering adequate range and performance without the need for a vast investment in refueling infrastructure.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Is the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Equinox featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Equinox 4.1 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Equinox.
Review I decide to check out the reviews on the Equinox after my wife purchased one this year. She's had what seems to be a common and on going problem with this truck. The jerking during acceleration. We have had several tune up(The dealer said that was the problem) to NO availe. Now it's more of a bigger problem than I ever thought. I decide to just ask an Equinox owner out of the blue. So I went to the local truck stop and wait for the 1st Equinox to arrive and it didn't take long. About 6 min later one pulled up and I asked the driver about any problems. Well guess what, they were having the same problem. So, I think this is a recall Item. But because the Equinox is one of there bests
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What options are available on the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox?
Available Chevrolet Equinox 2008 Submodel Types: SUV, Diesel
Available Trims: LT, LS, LTZ, Premier, LT1, LT2, Sport, L
Exterior Colors: Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Black, Tungsten Metallic, Nightfall Gray Metallic, Black Granite Metallic, Orange Burst Metallic, Champagne Silver Metallic, Blue Velvet Metallic, Mosaic Black Metallic, Atlantis Blue Metallic, Storm Blue Metallic, Ashen Gray Metallic, Mocha Steel Metallic, Silver Topaz Metallic, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Iridescent Pearl Tricoat, Cajun Red Tintcoat, Cyber Gray Metallic, White Diamond Tricoat, Sandy Ridge Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic, Cardinal Red Metallic, Twilight Blue Metallic, Pepperdust Metallic, Satin Steel Metallic, Siren Red Tintcoat, Deep Ruby Metallic, Dark Silver Metallic, Navy Blue Metallic, Patriot Blue Metallic, Steel Green Metallic, Ivy Metallic, Salsa Red Metallic, Sandstone Metallic, Silverstone Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, Granite Gray Metallic, Sea Grass Metallic, Graystone Metallic, Laser Blue Metallic, Galaxy Silver Metallic, Bermuda Green Metallic, Black Amethyst Metallic, Golden Teal Metallic, Meander Green Metallic
Interior Colors: Jet Black premium cloth, Medium Ash Gray premium cloth, Jet Black leather, Jet Black cloth, Light Titanium/Jet Black premium cloth, Light Titanium/Jet Black cloth, Light Titanium/Jet Black leather, Brownstone/Jet Black leather, Light Gray, Medium Ash Gray leather, Light Gray leather, Dark Gray premium cloth, Jet Black/Brandy leather, Dark Gray cloth, Jet Black/Light Titanium cloth, Jet Black/Cinnamon cloth, Saddle Up/Jet Black leather, Jet Black/Light Titanium leather, Ebony leather, Jet Black/Light Titanium premium cloth, Light Cashmere leather, Light Cashmere, Light Cashmere cloth, Jet Black/Brownstone leather, Ebony cloth, Light Cashmere premium cloth, Light Gray cloth, Light Gray premium cloth
Popular Features: Alarm, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Post-collision safety system, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Power Driver Seat, Back-up camera, Remote Start, Mobile Internet, 3500lb Towing Capacity, AWD/4WD, Heated seats, Auto Climate Control, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Keyless Entry/Start, Sunroof/Moonroof, Leather Seats, Parking sensors, Upgraded Headlights, Blind Spot Monitoring, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Navigation, Lane Departure Warning, Upgraded Engine, Upgraded Stereo, Towing Hitch, 360-degree camera, Cooled Seats, Pre-collision safety system, Rear Entertainment System