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

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Oshawa, Ontario – One thing about General Motors: although it has its woes, and it’s still not entirely out of the woods following its bankruptcy and the overall state of the auto industry, it can turn out some decent products when it puts its mind to it. In the compact SUV segment – a still-lively category with buyers, and an important one for an automaker to have something worthwhile – it offers the new-for-2010 Chevrolet Equinox, a vehicle that can finally go head-to-head with just about everything else that’s out there.

The new Equinox also appears at GMC as the Terrain, and both are built at GM’s plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Due to the discontinuation of the brands, the Pontiac Torrent and Saturn Vue that were built off the last-generation Equinox are no longer available.

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

Two engines are available: a 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder is the default across all trim lines (LS, two LT levels, and LTZ), while the LT and LTZ lines can be optioned to a 3.0-litre V6. Both engines use a six-speed automatic, and both can be optioned to all-wheel drive that runs primarily in front-wheel but sends power to the rear when needed. My tester was the 2.4-litre, in front-wheel drive, and in LTZ trim. I like that GM makes the smaller engine available in all trim lines; too often, if you want all of the luxury features, they only come with the bigger engine, or only with all-wheel drive.

Prices for the 2.4-litre in front-wheel drive range from $25,995 to $33,460, while all-wheel drive models are $27,605 to $35,070. Adding the V6 engine to any of them is another $2,050, which includes $1,725 for the engine and another $325 for the mandatory 18-inch wheels that go with it (17-inch painted aluminum rims are the default).

I seldom turn down more horsepower, but in the Equinox, I actually prefer the four-cylinder to the V6. It certainly isn’t as strong – 182 horsepower to the V6’s 264 ponies – but it feels livelier on acceleration, and has more than enough grunt in everyday driving. A four-cylinder that’s better than the V6? As odd as it sounds, believe it: this is one exceptionally well-done powerplant. For most owners, the only reason to move up would be for towing, since the V6 handles 3,500 lbs. (1,588 kg) to the 1,500 lbs (680 kg) that the four-cylinder can pull. On paper, the front-wheel four-cylinder rates 9.2 L/100 km (31 mpg) in the city, and 6.1 L/100 km (46 mpg) on the highway; in very cold weather, I got a real-world average of 12.4 L/100 km (23 mpg).

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

The Equinox also includes an “Eco” button which, when activated, sets many things in motion in order to conserve as much fuel as possible. It resets the transmission shift points, applies the torque converter clutch sooner and leaves it on longer, makes the throttle less sensitive, lowers the idle speed, and is more aggressive about shutting off fuel on deceleration. All of that conspires to make the four-cylinder noisier as it goes about its business, so GM throws in a pretty slick piece of technology called Active Noise Cancellation. It’s similar to the way noise-cancelling headphones work, sending out a sound wave through the stereo speakers and subwoofer to counteract the engine noise, which it detects through two microphones in the headliner. The system is only on the four-cylinder – the V6 is inherently quiet enough – and when combined with other sound-deadening tricks such as laminated glass and extra absorbent material in the dash, it makes the Equinox a much more quiet ride than expected for the segment and the price.

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