The refreshed-for–2016 Chevrolet Equinox hits my driveway this week.
Although the Equinox was refreshed, that update is mostly cosmetic and for the most part not much has changed since this new generation was introduced as a 2010 model.
What does that mean? Well, the Equinox is a little dated compared to the competition and that is immediately obvious. But I'll still give this vehicle the benefit of the doubt this week and give it a good test drive and once over, maybe it will surprise me.
My tester is an all-wheel–drive model that is loaded and equipped with the LTZ package. This means leather, sunroof, blind-spot detection, navigation and more. You get all this for under $40,000 and GM currently has rebates on this vehicle of around $3,000 so the value seems to be there.
Upgrades for 2016 include: Premium projector-beam headlamps on all models helps make the Equinox more visible at night, new daytime running lamps on LT and LTZ, with reflector-style lamps on LS, and light-emitting diode (LED) lamps on LT and LTZ, available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert safety features on LT and LTZ, revised instrument panel “centre stack” with new storage shelf and updated control graphics as well as other cosmetic and trim changes.
Powering my tester is GM's 2.4L Ecotec engine with Direct Injection producing 182 hp at 6,700 rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4,900 rpm. In terms of power output I would certainly rather be driving the 3.6L V6 also offered in this vehicle but hopefully I'll save a bit of fuel with this smaller engine this week.
Despite being classified as a compact CUV the Equinox is quite big, larger than most of its competitors and the space on the outside does translate to space on the inside. The rear seats fold 60/40 which in turn offers a considerable amount of cargo space in this crossover, but the rear seats also move fore/aft creating a large trunk area while still being capable of carrying five passengers.
With the backseats pushed rearward, rear legroom is getting close to full size SUV territory making the back a comfortable place to be. Up front of course there is lots of leg room and the seats are firm yet comfortable. The power adjustable driver's seat does raise and lower quite a bit, allowing the driver to choose if they want to sit up high like a trucker or low like a sports car driver. Sitting low does hinder your visibility of the front end of the vehicle making it a little more difficult to park.
Parking is also made a little difficult by the turning radius. Perhaps it is a function of the 18-inch wheels on my tester but I keep looking for that extra quarter turn to get into and out of a parking spots. I actually had to make a five point turn like a complete "noob" to get out of my parking spot last night.
Although GM has done a good job of keeping the infotainment system updated, despite the design of the vehicle being six years old. The ergonomics are all wrong and using the touchscreen is a long reach away from the driver's seat. Material wise you can see and feel the dated design as well. As newer models come out interior bits are incrementally put together better and use better materials, while the Equinox isn't bad in anyway the hard plastic at nearly $40,000 is a turn off.
Last week I was behind the wheel of the new Toyota RAV4 and I thought to myself that it could use a little more power. It wasn't really slow but it could benefit from 20 or so extra horsepower, the RAV4 is a direct competitor to this Equinox, hence the reference.
I traded that RAV4 for the Equinox on Monday and it was immediately obvious. The Equinox is painfully underpowered, it has no power anywhere in the rev range. It makes a lot of noise but nothing ever really happens. The RAV4 feels like a rocket ship in comparison -- okay perhaps that's a little over the top but hopefully you understand my frustration.
In the handling department the RAV also feels like a sports car in comparison to the Equinox. But that translates into other traits that, perhaps, makes the Equinox appealing. The ride is soft in the Equinox, it is a comfortable cruiser and it is quiet inside. While the RAV certainly exhibited more road noise and less comfort, but more sport.
I suppose the more I think about it, they are two different worlds and I enjoy the sportier world more. But I still cannot excuse the glacier-like acceleration of the Equinox and so far the fuel economy is not coming up roses to make me fell better about it either -- more on that after a weekend trip.
The two hour drive to Montreal in the Equinox did prove to be comfortable, my theory that this would be a good highway vehicle has now been proven. And I'm glad I took it and not my car because some of the roads in Laval are absolutely horrible.
Fuel economy though really is a disappointment. We have a vehicle that is slow and bad on fuel? What's the point then? For reference the Rav4 I drove last week I easily achieved an average of 8.7 L/100 km. In the Equinox on my weekly cycle I averaged a miserable 9.8 L/100 km.
The highway trip to Montreal helped the average a bit, bring it down to 9.2 L/100 km in pure highway driving.
The Equinox is showing its age and needs an update to the drivetrain and the interior to be competitive in this very popular segment. There is so much competition in this segment GM cannot afford to sit on and old design and hope it sells.
The Equinox isn't a bad vehicle, there is just much better at the price. If you can find a lot of incentives and spring for the V6 engine instead of the four cylinder then you may be happier.
Model: 2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ Awd
Options: Driver Confidence Package II -- $1,250; True North Edition -- $1,530;
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $39,450