A refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Equinox arrives this Fall but as changes are mostly cosmetic you may want to save yourself a few thousand bucks by considering one of the remaining 2015 Chevrolet Equinox models. ’Til the end of August, GM is offering some pretty big incentives. If you have cash, GM is offering a whopping $4,950 rebate ($750 owner cash, $4,200 dealer cash credit) on the 2015 Equinox LS FWD, or you can get zero-percent financing for 84 months on the 2015 Equinox AWD. Our top-of-the-line 2015 Equinox LTZ AWD tester with a few options is currently eligible for a credit of $3,664, bringing its as-tested price of $41,260 (Freight and a/c tax included) down to $37,596.
First introduced in 2010, the Equinox is best known for its comfortable, quiet highway ride, choice of four or six-cylinder normally-aspirated engines, sliding rear seats that maximize rear legroom, and unique in-car Wi-Fi hotspot. Past criticisms by us included its hard plastic interior surfaces, a rather uninspired driving experience, excessive engine noise under full throttle (four-cylinder engine), and a large turning circle. Still, these faults aren’t necessarily unique to the Equinox in the compact SUV category.
Though five years is a long time between redesigns, the styling of the Equinox has held up well when compared to newer models. The designers seem to have anticipated the trend to taller, bolder front ends while keeping the nose attractively streamlined (unlike its GM cousin, the GMC Terrain). And over the years, the Equinox has received incremental technology upgrades to keep it current, such as MyLink communication system, in-car 4G Wi-fi, and additional safety features.
As before, all 2015 (and 2016) Equinox trim levels come with a standard 182 hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, or optional 3.6L V6 (an extra $1,725) and six-speed auto. Despite a heavier-than-average curb weight of 1,713 kg the four-cylinder Equinox is as quick as many other popular four-cylinder SUVs, though not particularly quick. AJAC pegs its 0 to 100 km/h time at 9.9 seconds, competitive with the 178 hp Ford Escape 1.6 EcoBoost (9.9 sec) and the 176 hp Toyota RAV4 AWD (9.9 sec), and quicker than the 170 hp Nissan Rogue SL AWD (10.7 sec) and 155 hp Mazda CX-5 AWD 2.0 (10.7 sec). The four-cylinder 185 hp Honda CR-V AWD is slightly quicker at 9.4 seconds.
The real performers in this class are the turbocharged models, such as the 231 hp 2.0L Ford Escape EcoBoost at 7.8 seconds, and the 250 hp 2.0L Subaru Forester XT Turbo with 7.4 seconds. These models offer performance more on par with the 301 hp Equinox V6.
Meet the competition: Comparison Test: Compact Crossover SUVs
Because it’s a bit bigger and heavier than other compact SUVs, the Equinox’s fuel economy suffers. Official NRCan fuel consumption ratings for the Equinox four-cylinder are 11.5 city/8.5 highway/10.0 combined but during a week of mixed freeway and city driving, I was seeing an average of 11.0. For comparison, the Escape 1.6 EcoBoost has a combined rating of 9.4 L/100 km while the Toyota RAV4 AWD offers 9.5 L/100 km combined. Even the Ford Escape 2.0L EcoBoost has a combined rating of 10.1 L/100 km.
An Eco button on the console helps the Equinox improve fuel consumption by altering transmission shift points, reducing throttle input, lowering the idle speed and shutting of fuel sooner when decelerating. However, my test drive wasn’t long enough to see if there was any difference in fuel economy between Eco and normal modes and since I didn’t notice a big difference in performance between the two modes I just left the Eco button on all the time hoping to save as much fuel as I could.