Although the "new" Chevrolet Equinox made its global debut here in Toronto as scheduled, it's really just a refresh of the existing platform.
As part of the most rapidly expanding segment in North America – the compact crossover – Equinox is an important vehicle for General Motors, and therefore subject to enormous pressure to stay relevant. While a full-on revision for the second-generation Equinox isn't slated for another couple of years, it returns for 2016 with updated styling elements, and some additional safety and technology features.
The model lineup has been pared down, eliminating the 1LT and 2LT, and leaving just the LS, LT and LTZ.
Outwardly, the Equinox receives a few stylistic changes, including a new dual port grille front fascia that's embellished with extra chrome on LT and LTZ trim levels. All models now feature premium projector-beam headlights with LED running lights on upper trims, and fog lamps on LTZ.
Rear design changes include new "Chevy-signature, dual-element taillamps, signature license plate and extra chrome trim on LTZ. There's a new set of chrome exhaust tips for V6-equipped Equinox, and new 17 and 18-inch aluminum rims for LT, and LTZ trims respectively.
The Equinox came up short for interior quality and comfort in our recent compact crossover comparison test. Some additional content features and a redesigned centre stack address some of those areas, if not all.
Most notable addition to the Equinox's roster of technology features is the introduction of available on-board 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity on all trim levels, a segment first.
A 7-inch colour touchscreen and rear-vision camera are now standard across the lineup, while blind spot and rear cross traffic alert systems are available on LT and LTZ trims, and the revised centre stack offers storage space beneath. Interior materials are reportedly of a newer, more premium quality, although this wasn't readily apparent at our brief inspection.
Chassis and powertrains carry over from last year. Pricing has yet to be announced.
The Equinox is a solid performer for General Motors, selling over 1.4 million models here in Canada since its 2004 introduction. The current generation is now five years old – and while 2016 introduces some attractive features, overall the Equinox is a bit dated for such a fiercely fresh and competitive segment.
The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox will be built at GM’s Ingersoll, ON, Oshawa, ON, and Spring Hill, TN, assembly plants and today announced a further $560 million ($450 million) will be invested at the Ingersoll plant for retooling. That announcement will be welcome at Ingersoll, but bodes poorly for the under-pressure Oshawa plant which is likely to lose its Equinox line next year.