2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD
2010 Toyota RAV4 FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD (top); 2010 Toyota RAV4. Click image to enlarge

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Made in Canada

Autos recently took delivery of two more “Made in Canada” vehicles, both popular models in the Compact SUV/Crossover segment. For 2010, the Chevrolet Equinox is all-new and available with a four-cylinder engine, and the 2010 Toyota RAV4 continues its front-wheel drive option, introduced in 2009 (the 2010 RAV4 can also be purchased in a new Sports Appearance Package version, which we’ll be testing shortly).

Our “as-tested” vehicles represent a “mid-range” Equinox and a “base” RAV4. In the case of the RAV4, we’re interested to see what an entry-level vehicle offers; whether it’s a specification that would be sufficient for the new RAV4 buyer. Regarding the Equinox, we expect the four-cylinder AWD will be popular with Canadian consumers, and will be looking to see whether Chevrolet has improved its Equinox product as significantly as the company’s advertising claims.

Both of these vehicles are priced very competitively in the Compact SUV/Crossover segment, and both offer a range of desirable standard features and safety equipment. Toyota calls its RAV4 “The Performance SUV,” and Chevrolet says of the Equinox, “May the best car win.” But our test isn’t so much of a “shoot-out;” it’s more a comparison. Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4: two “Made in Canada” vehicles for consumers to consider.

Made in Canada: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD. Click image to enlarge

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox has been getting very positive reviews throughout the automotive press. Built in Ingersoll, Ontario, it’s a completely new vehicle that’s available with a choice of V6 and four-cylinder engines, all-new styling and a new interior.

The starting price is $25,995 for the front-wheel drive, four-cylinder Equinox LS, but our “Made in Canada” test Equinox is a Cyber Grey Metallic all-wheel drive 1LT version priced at $29,335 plus $260 for the satellite radio, $715 for the Interface package (Bluetooth, remote start, USB input, leather wrapped steering wheel with remote controls) option and $1,350 destination for a total price of $31,760 plus relevant taxes.

It’s a lot of vehicle, and priced competitively in the popular compact SUV segment.

The first thing you notice about the Equinox is the smooth styling and tasteful design. Not that you can vary too much on the SUV theme, but this one has pleasing lines, balanced proportions and gives the impression that it’s more expensive than it is.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD. Click image to enlarge

The interior is an extension of the positive exterior impressions, featuring a modern look and appealing surfaces. The premium cloth seats, in particular, are very well done, using a textured fabric that looks both rugged and smart. The seats are comfortable and supportive, with the driver’s seat additionally equipped with power height and lumbar adjustment.

There are a few cheap pieces, with the flip-up, dashboard mounted lid being the most obvious. But overall, it’s a finely crafted interior which like the exterior, gives the impression that you’re in a near-luxury vehicle.

The 1LT package includes an array of desirable options, examples of which are fog lights, Solar-Ray tinted glass, power heated mirrors, roof rack, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, driver information centre with compass, ambient instrument panel lighting, tilt/telescopic steering column, vehicle stability control with electronic traction control (standard on all 2010 Equinox models), block heater and automatic on/off headlights.

The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine makes 182 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,900 rpm. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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