Instead, a 182-horsepower direct-injected 2.4-liter DOHC I-4 is standard in all Equinox models and a 3.0-liter direct-injection version of the high-feature DOHC V-6 making the 3.6's 264 horsepower is available on LT and LTZ trim levels. Either engine is available with front or all-wheel drive and GM's six-speed automatic is standard across the board. The 3.0 in a front-drive Equinox is estimated at 18/25 mpg, 1 mpg better than the 3.6 in city and highway mileage.

When mated to the I-4, a driver-selectable "eco mode" is added to the six-speed automatic, which allows the torque converter clutch to lock up at lower speeds and changes shift points to improve fuel economy. The result is a front-drive compact crossover estimated to deliver 22 mpg in the EPA city cycle and 32 mpg highway. That beats the Ford Escape Hybrid's number, making the 2.4-liter Equinox the segment highway fuel economy leader.

Government 5-star and IIHS "good" crash ratings were a program target from the outset and base curb weight is up over the previous model. However, improved impact performance doesn't tell the whole story of the 110-pound mass rise.

With its interior of amusingly grained hard plastic, the original Equinox was a real boom box inside. Playing for segment leadership rather than mere participation made silencing the 2010 Equinox a gilt-edge priority. GM employed Active Noise Cancellation for the first time on any of its production vehicles. The system (on 2.4-liter models exclusively) employs two microphones to detect low-frequency sounds in the cabin and then uses the car's audio system speaker, including the subwoofer when fitted, to generate canceling sound. The noise-cancellation system also allowed engineers to drop the idle speed of the I-4, which yielded about 0.1-mpg-better fuel economy. Further noise mitigation is attained through the use of laminated acoustic glass for the windshield and front side windows as well as triple seals on all four doors. Additionally, the level of interior materials is significantly upgraded to the point where the Equinox cabin is measurably better than Chevy's own Malibu. Yes, there are still some large hard-plastic components, but they've been moved out of the driver's primary touch zones or have been covered with soft (or soft-touch) trim. Compare interiors side by side with the chief competition, Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Toyota RAV4, and the Chevy eats 'em up and spits 'em out.