2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT
Short Take Road Test

Most people in the Northern Hemisphere think of an equinox as being the first day of spring or fall, but Equinox is also, of course, the name of this small utility vehicle. We intentionally omit “sport” from that descriptor because this vehicle lacks the necessary athleticism to qualify—it could use some of the energy and fury of Equinox, the Norwegian thrash-metal band with which it shares its name. With the 182-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four motivating base models, it isn’t super slow, but drive prudently, and you’ll think so. We recorded a best 0-to-60-mph time of 8.7 seconds and a quarter-mile in 16.8 seconds at 84 mph. Those figures put it near the back of the mini-SUV pack, as does our observed fuel economy of 18 mpg.

Transmitting Frustrations

We blame that on the transmission, which is so eager to swap cogs that it’s as if the Equinox were celebrating having six speeds, saying, “Why not shift now? We have six gears to get through!” Well, “why not” are the engine’s lofty power and torque peaks—6700 and 4900 rpm, respectively—and getting even moderate acceleration requires a stiff jab at the gas to keep the tranny in lower gears and the engine in the power band. We kept the pedal floored virtually all the time (helping to explain the poor fuel economy); the transmission upshifts too early otherwise, making the engine bog and feel unduly weak—like it could use a membership to Equinox, the upscale health club chain.

The Equinox is more accomplished in the important SUV attributes of styling and space. Its new skin is seriously sexy—smooth and cool like “Equinox,” the Coltrane blues standard. From the front, it is practically indistinguishable from the larger Chevrolet Traverse, although the thick, forward-canted C-pillar is unmistakable in profile. As handsome as that pillar is on the outside, though, from the inside, it and the chunky D-pillar combine to cramp rearward vision.

Stylish and Spacious Interior

Occupants will find less room inside than on the Celebrity Equinox, the 2850-passenger cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises. But the five people who do fit aboard the Chevrolet will find competitive space for the small-UV class. The sliding second row is a nice touch, although taller adults are going to need it all the way back. With small children aboard, it is possible to slide it forward for extra cargo space and slapability.

The classy exterior styling carries over to the inside, where the materials look and feel expensive and the design is actually a design, rather than an uninspired and strictly rational placement of necessary controls. The handsome rake of the dash means a long reach to the stereo’s volume and tuning knobs. The $495 Vehicle Interface package—the only option on our $24,600 tester—partly remedies that problem with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and also includes Bluetooth, a remote starter, and a USB connection. For dual-zone climate control—not available on any Chevy Equinox—you’ll have to travel with Equinox, the Marvel super-villain who can generate waves of extreme heat and cold.

Stylish and spacious, Chevrolet’s Equinox is a competitive vehicle hamstrung by a pretty severe weight problem. At 3752 pounds, our tester is on the hefty side of this segment. It pays for that mass with fuel economy that won’t live up to the 22 city/32 highway mpg EPA ratings in real-world use, and frugality is a chief reason people buy a vehicle this size over something larger. Although an equinox is seen as the event that marks the start of spring or fall, astronomically speaking, an equinox actually occurs at about the same point in the solar seasons as this ute rates compared with its competitors: right in the middle.