2010 Chevrolet Equinox
Finally in small sport/ute big leagues
By Kim Reynolds

WE LIKE: Design, friendly driving nature, and ample interior.
WE DON'T LIKE: Fussy button cluster, four-cylinder with AWD could be a bit slow.

Listen to what our staff kept saying over and over again about the new Chevy Equinox. Lassa: "I had high hopes for this, and, mostly, I wasn't disappointed." Senior editor Loh: "Surprisingly fun to drive." Senior editor Kiino: "A dynamic improvement over the previous car." St. Antoine: "The Equinox surprises with its overall likeability." And what is it they're liking so much?

Our test example of the 2010 Equinox was actually rushed out to us from Detroit, and the version that arrived was probably its ideal configuration. Powered by an unexpectedly impressive 182-horse, 2.4-liter Ecotec four, it rendered our fetching Silver Ice Metallic Equinox a lot more agile than its optional engine would've (a heavier, 264-horsepower V-6, which we simultaneously sampled in the similar GMC Terrain). It's definitely the smart choice as you get EPA mileage numbers of 20-22/29-32 city/highway (AWD-FWD) instead of a middling 17/24-25 and save yourself $1500 at the same time.

The Equinox's appeal appeared to touch all the bases. Lassa: "Its acceleration seems on par with its Honda and Toyota competitors, and the direct-injection Ecotec four doesn't compare badly in terms of refinement. Meanwhile, its ride quality seems even better than any RAV4 or CR-V I can remember." Loh: "Ride is smooth, light feeling, and almost Japanese in its subtly damped feel, but with a smooth, American-style ride over bigger hits."

And the controversial? While Lassa viewed the interior's materials as "a big step up, with the level of plastics and materials equal to, or better than, the Toyota/Honda standard," Loh countered with: "Knobs and buttons don't have that soft touch, quality feel." (Personally, I think the materials are still behind, but now only by a whisker.) Additionally, Loh felt the Equinox's interior "apes Honda by going too far with the button-crazy center stack." And while most of us thought the Chevy was rather fetching, Loh perceived a distinct femininity about it: "They'll need to macho it up to grab men."

Unfortunately, of all the friendly words our staff had to say about the new Equinox, the critical thing we didn't hear was...SUV of the Year.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox
Base price range $23,185-$30,540
Price as tested $28,790 (LTZ)
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.4L/182-hp*/172-lb-ft* DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 3863 lb (56/44%)
Wheelbase 112.5 in
Length x width x height 187.8 x 72.5 x 66.3 in
0-60 mph 9.2 sec**
Quarter mile 16.9 sec @ 82.4 mph**
Braking, 60-0 mph 127 ft**
Lateral acceleration 0.74 g (avg)**
MT Figure Eight 29.0 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)**
MT observed fuel econ 17.6 mpg
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 22/32 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.76 lb/mile
*SAE Certified ** Performance numbers for functionally equivalent GMC Terrain
Engineering ***
Design ****
Interior/Functionality ****
Performance ***
On-road refinement ***
Off-road ability ***
Value ****
Giant improvement makes it a genuine player.