2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Since its introduction in 2005, the Chevrolet Equinox has been billed by its makers as a compact SUV. Indeed, the truck it replaced, the Suzuki-built Chevy/GMC Tracker, was small, but the Equinox was a much larger vehicle whose size placed it at the upper reaches of the compact segment.

So, while each new generation of a vehicle typically grows to satisfy the consumer’s demand for continual “improvement,” the all-new 2010 Equinox is virtually the same size as its predecessor, having already done all the growing it needed to. It rides on the same 2,857 mm (112.5 in.) wheelbase and is actually 24 mm (about an inch) shorter in overall length.

Along with its new styling, the 2010 Equinox also gets two new engines: the base motor is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, while the upgrade is a 3.0-litre V6. On paper, this sounds like a step down from the first-generation’s all six-cylinder choices, but the new motors are more modern, more efficient designs that feature direct fuel injection, a technology gaining favour among powertrain engineers for its ability to reduce fuel consumption without compromising performance.

The Equinox can be had in LS, LT and LTZ trims, and the mid-level LT model is further split into two models, creatively named 1LT and 2LT. All Equinoxes start with the four-cylinder engine; LT and LTZ models can be upgraded to a 3.0-litre V6, and all three can be ordered with either front- or all-wheel drive.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD. Click image to enlarge

My tester was a four-cylinder, front-drive version in 1LT trim, which adds automatic climate control, roof rails, body-coloured heated side mirrors, premium cloth seat fabric, tinted glass, fog lamps, compass, floor mats and a block heater to the already nicely-equipped LS model. Also included were the $716 Vehicle Interface Package, which adds Bluetooth connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, remote engine start and a USB input for the stereo; the $345 Cargo Management Package that comprises a roll-up cargo area cover, cargo net and roof-rack crossbars; and satellite radio for $260. All told, the as-tested price came out to $30,496 including freight.

With 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, the four-cylinder moves the Equinox just fine. My only complaint power-wise is that it makes its power high in the rev range, which is fine until you pack four adults inside, at which point you immediately notice how much harder the engine has to work to get the Equinox up to speed. As it is, this four-cylinder doesn’t seem to mind reaching for high revs, and it sounds decent when pressed, but the amount of engine noise that makes it inside reminds you that this is no luxury vehicle.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LT FWD. Click image to enlarge

A lack of torque is a complaint I have about most of the vehicles in this class: being mostly based on sedans, compact-to-mid-sized crossovers like this also share those cars’ engines, which – at least in four-cylinder trim – tend not to have much low-rev grunt. In any vehicle capable of carrying four or five people plus a bunch of stuff, I’d gladly trade my high-rev jollies for more torque, the kind you get from a diesel engine or even a smallish turbocharged four-cylinder.

That said, this front-wheel drive Equinox was noticeably quicker in a straight line than the all-wheel drive, four-cylinder GMC Terrain (a mechanical twin to the Equinox) I’d driven a few weeks earlier. That’s one difference an extra 114 kg (250 lbs) makes; another is seen in this vehicle’s fuel consumption. The official, Natural Resources Canada numbers for a front-drive version of either the Chevy or GMC version are 9.2/6.1 L/100 km (city/highway), compared to 10.1/6.9 with all-wheel drive. Where the all-wheeler GMC averaged a somewhat disappointing 11.1 L/100 km in a near 50/50 mix of city and highway driving, the Equinox managed 10.5 in almost all city driving, and returned 7.3 L/100 km on a 450 km drive from Quebec City to Ottawa, including a foray into the madness that is midtown Montreal for a few errands. The message, one I’ve delivered to many friends asking for new-car purchase advice, is this: if fuel consumption is a primary concern for you, then choose the front-wheel drive version of a vehicle if you don’t absolutely need four-wheel traction.

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