Chevrolets at their best offered "more than expected." This separated the revolutionary 1955 Bel Air from its popularly priced rivals at Ford and Plymouth. It defined the first two generations of Chevelles and the downsized 1977 Caprice. But as GM moved into the troubled 1980s and '90s, the clarion call at Chevrolet became "Good enough for Chevy." This sad phrase steered product planners, designers, and engineers into producing a generation of Chevrolets that were little more than segment placeholders, something to give the brand a presence in a category.

The original Equinox embodied this attitude to the hilt. On paper the specs were on target: a standard V-6 and automatic transmission, independent suspension, and discs at all four corners along with a roomy, reconfigurable interior for five. Dynamically and aesthetically, the vehicle was far less than the sum of its parts. Following in the path of a series of upgraded Chevrolets (the Malibu and GMT900 full-size trucks), the 2010 Equinox has eschewed the good-enough-for-Chevy attitude and has become a transformed crossover in the process.

After a deep-dive into the compact-crossover segment Chevy came to significant revelations. First was that owners of these vehicles appreciate and seek refined, comfortable products. Buyers told Chevy V-6 engines are not a high priority. Most important, Chevrolet decided if it was going to play in the CR-V, Escape, and RAV4 sandbox it must try to beat the best.

Of course, manufacturers have claimed this countless times in the past. Starting with the architecture of the first Equinox, the stage was set for another case of overpromising and underdelivering. Overall width is up a fraction over an inch and vehicle length has been shortened an inch. Powertrain offerings were rethought and both the old-fashioned "high-value" 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter OHV V-6 and the modern "high-feature" 264-horsepower, 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 are no longer offered. The Equinox Sport has been axed along with the 3.6.