Though positioned against compact models from competing brands, the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox crossover is dimensionally closer to a mid-size. This means it offers a relatively spacious interior to go along with an impressive 32 mpg highway rating and plenty of standard equipment.
Visually, the Equinox bears a strong resemblance to both the Malibu sedan and the larger Traverse crossover. Underneath the sheetmetal, the Equinox shares a platform and many other major mechanical components with the GMC Terrain.
Reflecting GM's commitment to improving interior refinement after years of being trampled by its Asian competitors in material quality and fit finish, the Equinox's five-passenger cabin is a well-designed space with a simple yet attractive dashboard and an easily navigable center stack. Cargo space behind the rear seats is a useful 31.4 cubic feet, with 63.7 cubic feet available with the rear seats folded out of the way.
The Equinox is available with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which combines entertainment and Bluetooth-based connectivity functions into a seven-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard. The setup enables hands-free phone calls, streaming audio via Pandora radio and Stitcher SmartRadio, and navigation through a downloadable BringGo app.
Under the hood
The base engine for the Equinox is a 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder "Ecotec" unit that delivers 182 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,900 rpm. Mated to a standard six-speed automatic, this thrifty motor returns an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway in the vehicle's standard front-wheel-drive configuration. An optional all-wheel-drive system enhances traction in inclement weather but lowers mileage to 20/29 mpg.
The new V6 is a 3.6-liter unit that makes 301 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque and teams with a six-speed automatic. Despite being much more powerful than the 3.0-liter unit it replaced, the 3.6-liter matches the smaller unit's 17/24 mpg with FWD and 16/23 mpg with AWD.
Towing capacity is rated at 1,500 for the four-cylinder and 3,500 with the V6.
Trim level breakdown
Chevrolet offers the Equinox in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ.
The entry-level LS trim comes standard with air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, sliding and reclining rear seats, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The LT trim level is divided into two different sub-models. The 1LT brings a rearview camera, premium cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, tinted rear windows, roof rack heated outside mirrors and an upgraded sound system with a seven-inch touchscreen and iPod/USB audio interface. To those features, the 2LT adds heated front seats, an eight-speaker Pioneer sound system, an eight-way power driver seat, foglamps, remote start, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming mirror.
The range-topping LTZ trim includes leather upholstery, a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, chrome wheels and automatic headlights.
Options include a navigation system, a sunroof, a forward collision/lane departure warning system (for 2LT models) and 18- and 19-inch wheels.
All Equinox models come standard with dual front, side and side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
As the Equinox straddles the line between the compact and mid-size crossover segments, its competitors include both smaller vehicles like the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-7 as well as larger ones like the Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe.