Made in Canada: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and 2010 Toyota RAV4, Part two toyota car test drives made in canada long term auto tests auto articles car comparisons chevrolet
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD. Click image to enlarge

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By Grant Yoxon and Paul Williams

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Made In Canada

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a major step forward in comparison with the previous model. Its fit and finish is exemplary in this range, looking and feeling much more expensive than it is. You can tell General Motors is making every effort to produce a vehicle that will appeal to consumers, and as it turns out, Chevrolet has stepped up production of this vehicle in response to strong demand.

On the road there is a real sense of solidity to the Equinox; the ride both comfortable and quiet in all conditions. Crosswinds don’t affect it, and highway speeds generate virtually no wind noise. The steering wheel is a formidable piece, and almost all of the interior panels are “soft touch” materials (exceptions are the flimsy dashboard-mounted storage container lid, and the major gauge binnacle).

Made in Canada: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and 2010 Toyota RAV4, Part two toyota car test drives made in canada long term auto tests auto articles car comparisons chevrolet
Made in Canada: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and 2010 Toyota RAV4, Part two toyota car test drives made in canada long term auto tests auto articles car comparisons chevrolet
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD. Click image to enlarge

However, this solid feel doesn’t come without weight — the Equinox AWD tips the scales at very close to 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs) — and the weight can be something of a challenge for the economical four-cylinder engine, even though it develops 180 horsepower. On the highway, with cruise control set, it’s just about perfect, silently maintaining speed while providing sedan-like fuel economy. But when you need power, the I4 Equinox feels lazy, requiring an authoritative right foot to kick the six-speed transmission out of its slumber in order to deliver the requested acceleration.

The Equinox can’t be faulted for interior roominess and utility, though. A large, deep storage box doubles as an armrest for front-seat passengers, and other receptacles and cup/bottle containers are spread liberally throughout the cabin. Headroom and legroom are excellent for front and rear occupants, with our $30,410 1LT version offering power lumbar support for the driver, although no heated front seats.

The instruments and controls are logically arranged and easy to operate. The standard satellite radio is very simple to use, and noteworthy in this regard. Heating and cooling is generally effective, but there is a tendency for the windshield and front side windows to fog in cold weather, even when defrost is selected exclusively.

Visibility is not ideal, although the view is fine from the front and to the sides. When backing up, the driver’s ability to see surrounding obstacles is compromised by the thick pillars and the irregular shape of the windows. Care must therefore be taken in close quarters, while the large turning circle may require a three-point turn, where other vehicles would manage a u-turn.

Made in Canada: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and 2010 Toyota RAV4, Part two toyota car test drives made in canada long term auto tests auto articles car comparisons chevrolet
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD. Click image to enlarge

One minor, but irritating feature is the chromed latch for the dash-mounted storage box. At night, it is perfectly positioned to reflect street lights, and appears to “flash” every time you pass under one. It’s distracting. During the day, the same latch reflects sunlight, like a small mirror. As luxurious as the chrome-look may seem, a matte latch would be better in this location.

Despite these criticisms, the Equinox’s strengths are numerous and important. The overall design is very appealing and the interior fabrics and panels are well matched and of high quality. Fuel economy is excellent for a vehicle of this type (midsize AWD SUV), although my 11.2 L/100 km city, and 8.2 L/100 km highway (comparable to a V6-powered midsize sedan), underperforms the official EnerGuide ratings.

Above all, the Equinox feels (and is) very substantial, and this is a characteristic that’s evident right from the time the door closes with its resounding ‘thunk’. This, in combination with the full range of standard safety equipment (stability control, multiple airbags) contributes to its Good rating in collision testing by the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.