2010 Chevrolet Equinox
2010 Chevrolet Equinox. Click image to enlarge

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General Motors of Canada

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Grand Bend, Ontario – Whenever auto companies pack a jam of journalists into a fleet of whatever vehicle it’s launching, they will very occasionally have a couple of the competitors’ models they’re targeting, to enable the writers to drive them back-to-back. It’s always a useful exercise, but of course it’s skewed: no one’s going to bring in a rival that outperforms the new model being showcased. And so, when GM put us in the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and then handed over some Toyota and Honda keys, everyone took notice.

The RAV4 and CR-V have deservedly earned their spots in the sales race. But this completely redesigned Equinox has done something its predecessor could not: it gives GM the ability to solidly stand head-to-head in the crowded compact SUV market against all domestic and import opponents. The biggest hurdle it’s going to have to face is public perception, because it’s got pretty much everything else in line with its competition.

Its advertising campaigns will weigh heavily towards its fuel economy, which GM says is class-leading, but this Equinox also earns high marks for its looks, performance, interior and comfort.

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

It’s also trimmed and badged as the GMC Terrain, and both are built in GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, which also produced the Suzuki XL7 until slow sales brought an end to that model’s production. GM reps say there’s none of the XL7 in the new Equinox, and while the upcoming and redesigned Cadillac SRX shares the same basic platform and some of the Equinox’s components, it’s its own vehicle, and not simply an Equinox wearing a Cadillac crest (the SRX is made in Mexico).

For 2009, the Equinox came only with a choice of V6 engines, in 3.4- or 3.6-litre displacement. There are still two engines for 2010, but the selection is now a 2.4-litre four-cylinder or 3.0-litre V6, both completely new and with direct injection, and both mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. Both can be ordered in front-wheel drive, or with an all-wheel system that primarily runs the front wheels, but sends power to the rear wheels when necessary. In FWD, the I4 rates a fuel-sippy 7.8 L/100 km (36 mpg Imp) in combined driving, and 8.7 L/100 km (32 mpg Imp) in AWD. The V6 uses 10.2 L/100 km (28 mpg Imp) combined in FWD, and 10.5 L/100 km (27 mpg Imp) in AWD. Numbers can get boggling, so to simplify, GM says the four-cylinder front-wheel version gets better mileage and costs less than comparatively-equipped 2009 versions of the RAV4 and CR-V, and the less expensive but thirstier 2009 Ford Escape. Both engines are GM units: the four-cylinder is made in Spring Hill, Tennessee, while the V6 is cranked out of St. Catharines, Ontario. Both also use a timing chain, rather than a timing belt, which will keep down maintenance costs for long-term owners.

When asked if the Equinox might also emerge as a hybrid, GM’s representative said that the company isn’t making any announcements right now, and that given the fuel economy of the four-cylinder, there’s not a lot of advantage to a hybrid when the extra price is factored in.

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