The Chevrolet Equinox is a solidly built compact crossover SUV closely related to the GMC Terrain. Last redesigned for 2010, it carries over with little change for the 2017 model year, following the addition of safety features and a light refresh for 2016. The top trim level, formerly LTZ, is now the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox Premier.
While the GMC Terrain proclaims a more masculine aura with its squared-off styling, the Equinox is more rounded. Carlike in operation, the Equinox fits right in among Chevrolet’s sedans, courtesy of sharp detailing and attractive proportions. Chevrolet’s compact crossover has sold well, helped by a choice of four-cylinder or V6 powertrain, offered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Boasting direct injection, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 182 horsepower and ranks among the most fuel-efficient in its class. The available 3.6-liter V6 develops 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
All-wheel drive, which adds 100 pounds to vehicle weight, is available for every trim level except the base-level Equinox L. An Equinox is considerably more maneuverable than Chevrolet’s much larger, three-row Traverse.
Comparatively large for a compact crossover, the Equinox is roomy inside. Interior space is easily configurable for cargo or people. The rear bench can slide fore/aft, offering up to 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the seat up, and nearly 64 cubic feet with seatbacks flipped down. Moving to the farthest rearward position provides extra room for passenger knees. Two adults can spread out in the second row, with decent legroom and good head clearance.
Crash-test scores have been good, but not top-notch. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given a four-star rating overall, with the same score for frontal impact and rollover protection. Equinox was rated Good in all categories, including the difficult small-overlap test, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Chevrolet’s optional collision-mitigation system got only a Basic rating.
A rearview camera is standard, which is good news because rearward visibility is poor otherwise. Lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems are available, but only in the top trim level.
The 2017 Chevrolet Equinox comes with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive ($1,750) and four-cylinder engine or V6 ($1,500).
Equinox L ($23,100) comes with cloth upholstery, rearview camera, OnStar 4G LTE, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering column, six-speaker audio, USB port, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a 7-inch touchscreen. Equinox LS ($25,510) adds SiriusXM satellite radio (3-month trial) and a digital compass.
Equinox LT ($26,750) adds heated power mirrors, LED daytime running lights, and roof rails. Chevrolet’s MyLink system enables Bluetooth streaming and integrates Pandora and Stitcher internet-radio, plus navigation connectivity. Options include the V6 engine with sport-tuned suspension, plus blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Midnight and Sport Edition packages are available ($1,695).
Equinox Premier ($30,040) gets perforated-leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, foglamps, automatic climate control, and 18-inch wheels. Active-safety features are available, including forward collision and lane-departure warnings. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Mechanically, Chevrolet Equinox is practically a twin to the GMC Terrain. While GMC’s version is more aggressively styled, the Equinox doesn’t come across as anonymous, like some crossover models. Somewhat large for a compact crossover, and a bit chunky, the Equinox might also be perceived as a scaled-down version of the three-row Traverse.
Mild facelifting for 2016 gave the Equinox a more contemporary front end, with a sculpted lower fascia. With its dual-port grille, the Equinox more closely resembles other Chevrolet models. Upper trim levels get LED running lights.
The Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover is a versatile cargo/people hauler for families that don’t need more than two rows of seats. The sliding second-row seat, which travels 8 inches forward/back, permits maximizing interior space to favor either back-seat passengers or cargo.
In every trim level, front passengers get the best seats, which are upright and supportive. The driver’s seat is especially appealing, in good position and carlike. Perforated leather upholstery in the Premier edition has an upscale look and feel.
Materials are good quality. The mild refresh for 2016 dealt with many cheaper-feeling materials.
In total, the cabin is surprisingly well-composed. An effective noise-cancellation system subdues sounds and light vibrations in four-cylinder models. Wind noise is nicely quelled, but the engine can be coarse while idling.
Stowage space is plentiful, for both smaller and bigger items. The deep center console can consume electronic devices and purses. Our only complaint is a cargo floor that should be a bit lower, but there’s a retractable cover and stretchable cargo net.
Mechanically, at least, not much has changed since 2010. With either engine, the Equinox falls near the middle of its category in terms of power and dynamic functions.
Impressively advanced, including direct injection, the base engine provides respectable performance. A four-cylinder Equinox can reach 60 mph in around nine seconds, which is slow, roughly the same as the Honda CR-V. Passing demands some pre-planning. Engine clatter is rather prominent, but ride quality is good.
The V6 is the way to go for towing or confident performance, though it is substantially more thirsty. A V6 Equinox can haul up to 3,500 pounds. Not many V6 options remain in this segment, with competitors leaning toward turbo-four engines.
With either engine, transmission shifts can be rough. On hills, or in heavy traffic, the transmission might hesitate. Manual shifts are made using plus/minus toggle buttons on the gearshift knob.
Visibility remains a challenge, especially impaired by thick rear pillars.
Four-cylinder gas mileage is reasonably thrifty. With front-wheel drive, the base four-cylinder model is EPA-rated at 21/31 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the four-cylinder EPA estimate to 20/28 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. In four-cylinder models, an Eco button can boost efficiency by reducing accessory power draw, optimizing shift points, and locking the transmission’s torque converter earlier.
Though it delivers towing power and is better able to pass on steep grades, the V6 is EPA-rated at only 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive sinks the estimate to 16/23 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined.
The Chevrolet Equinox makes a fine family vehicle for vacations and road trips, as well as daily use. Considering its basic technology, this compact crossover provides good value, with an impressive option list for personal preferences. We recommend the four-cylinder engine for most buyers, but a light foot is needed to achieve the EPA’s fuel-economy estimates.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.