Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ four-cylinder AWD. Click image to enlarge

Test Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ four-cylinder FWD
Test Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox
Test Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ four-cylinder FWD
Comparison Test: Five Compact SUVs
First Drive: 2013 Ford Escape
Quick Spin: 2012 Honda CR-V Touring

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Photo Gallery:
2012 Chevrolet Equinox

The Chevrolet Equinox, like many compact SUVs, comes outfitted with a four-cylinder engine as standard equipment even in its top trim level (LTZ), with an optional V6 engine as well. Equinox LTZ shoppers who choose the four-cylinder can combine maximum luxury with maximum fuel economy for a lower purchase price, albeit at the cost of some performance and refinement.

Still, those sacrifices are no longer as significant as they used to be. With 182 horsepower, the Equinox’s 2.4L four-cylinder engine has almost as much power as the base 3.4L V6 in the last generation (2009) Equinox. And its new-generation six-speed automatic transmission provides smoother shifts and contributes to better fuel economy than earlier five-speed automatics did.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ four-cylinder AWD. Click image to enlarge

As before, the standard 2.4L four-cylinder is available in all three Equinox trim levels (LS, LT and LTZ) while the optional 3.0L V6 comes in two trim levels (LT, LTZ). Both engines and all three trim levels are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

Today’s tester, a 2012 Equinox LTZ with the four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive is competitively priced in the compact SUV segment with an MSRP of $35,810. Key rivals include the 2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4X4 ($37,499), 2012 Honda CR-V Touring AWD ($35,090), and 2012 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4X4 ($35,045). Others include its GM stablemate, the GMC Terrain, the Hyundai Tucson/Santa Fe, Jeep Liberty, Kia Sportage/Sorento, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, and VW Tiguan.

Equinox LTZ models come with most popular options as standard equipment, with the exception of dual-zone climate control, sunroof and navigation. Standard are two-tone ventilated leather upholstery with front seat heaters, 250-watt eight-speaker sound system, automatic climate control, sliding rear seat, OnStar hands-free telephone, satellite radio, remote keyless entry, remote start, power liftgate, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, 17-inch alloys, fog lights, and exclusive chrome trim on the door handles, skid plates, roof rails, and outside mirrors. If you want the LTZ with the 3.0L V6, it will cost you an extra $1,725.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox car test drives reviews chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ four-cylinder AWD. Click image to enlarge

According to GM’s published fuel economy figures, the four-cylinder Equinox offers fuel savings of approximately 20 percent over the V6, averaging 8.7 L/100 km compared to 10.9 L/100 km. Both engines run on regular unleaded gas and (new for 2012) both will run on E85 ethanol, where available. During my test drive, my onboard fuel consumption display was showing an average of between 9.9 L/100 km and 10.2 L/100 km. Compared to the four-cylinder Escape 4X4, CR-V AWD, and RAV4 4X4, the Equinox AWD’s official fuel consumption ratings of 10.1/6.9 city/hwy (L/100 km) are slightly thirstier, with the economical Honda CR-V leading the way with 9.2/6.6 city/hwy.

As you would expect, the Equinox’s optional 264-hp V6 provides much quicker acceleration than the four: Consumer Reports quotes a 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) time of 9.1 seconds for the V6 and 10.7 seconds for the I4, and a 45 to 65 mph passing time of 6.1 vs 7.3. As well, the V6 offers a maximum towing capacity of 1,587 kg (3,500 lbs) compared to 680 kg (1,500 lbs) for the I4.

Interestingly though, the Equinox four-cylinder accelerates from 0 to 30 mph (48 km/h) in the same amount of time as the V6: 3.8 seconds—meaning that the Equinox four-cylinder is just as responsive pulling away from a stop light and accelerating in and around town. But on a long drive with a full load of passengers and luggage, my guess is that power would be wanting. Still, how often do we go on long road trips?




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).