First Look: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Frank MarkusDec 31, 2008
The utility of a crossover with the economy of a sedan! That's the boast being made by Chevy's second-generation 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, and the claim does not come attached to any expensive hybrid or diesel technology. Instead the base Equinox gets a spanking new 2.4L four bristling with variable valve timing on both cams and direct fuel injection. Letting liquid fuel evaporate inside the hot cylinder cools the charge considerably, permitting an impressive 11.7:1 compression ratio with no knock on regular fuel. That high compression combines with more complete fuel burn to lower hydrocarbon emissions, improve power, and reduce fuel consumption.
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The result? It makes 182 hp and 174 lb-ft. That's just three horses and 36 lb-ft shy of the former pushrod V-6's output, and performance with the improved gearing of the standard six-speed 6T45 Hydramatic is supposed to equal the 3.4L V-6's (9.1 sec to 60 mph by our equipment) while EPA fuel economy hits 21/30 mpg FWD, 20/27 AWD, up from 17/24 (FWD and AWD). Furthermore, you may be able to beat that number. An ECO button on the dash remaps the transmission shift strategy and calls for more aggressive fuel shutoff when coasting. There's a slight NVH and driveability penalty, but it reportedly pays off, and the EPA does its testing with and without this button pushed, averaging the results. Ordering a base vehicle without the luggage rack will further improve your mileage (it comes on more than 30% of Equinoxes so EPA tests with the rack). Electric power steering, 17-in. low rolling-resistance Michelin tires, improved aerodynamics (from 0.42 to 0.36 drag coefficient), and a host of other tiny details contribute to the fuel economy bump, but none is expected to dramatically increase the cost of the base car.
Stepping up to the 3.0L V-6 option erodes the fuel economy somewhat, but that engine is also direct-injected, using the same high 11.7:1 compression ratio to deliver 255 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque (down from the 2009 port-injected 3.6's 264/250). Fuel economy still inches upward from the 3.6L's 16-17/24 EPA city/hwy mpg to 18/25 mpg FWD, 17/24 AWD. The optional all-wheel-drive system is Haldex based and incorporates an American Axle-sourced limited-slip rear differential featuring an electronically controlled clutch pack to distribute torque left or right. Maximum trailer weight remains 3500 lb for the V-6, 1500 for the new four.
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How's the rest of the vehicle? It trades an inch of overall length for 1.1 in. of added width, and the roof comes down 0.7 in. The wheelbase is the same and the rear seat still slides fore and aft 8.0 in. to apportion the people and cargo space as needed, but somehow the rear legroom rating drops 3.0 in. Headroom front and rear is also eroded by slightly less than an inch, as is the cargo space (by almost 5 cu ft overall), but Chevy claims it's still best-in-class. The new interior looks classy too, with a choice of three contrasting color schemes pairing brownstone, gray, or tan with black. Much of the plastic you see is hard, but the sheen and texture are appealing, the armrests and touch points are soft, and the seats get contrasting stitching (at least on the topline LTZ model displayed). A first-in-class feature: a hydraulically actuated power liftgate with pinch protection. OnStar is standard, and if you get the model with Bluetooth connectivity, you can program the car to call OnStar via your own cell-phone, dodging the monthly OnStar access fee most users have to pay. Stiffer body structure, acoustic laminated glass, and triple door sealing are said to lower interior noise levels noticeably. A four-way power driver seat with electric lumbar is standard, eight-way electrics are optional, as is heating and memory for the front seats.
Will all this be enough to "disrupt the default decision to buy an import" as Chevy honcho Ed Peper hopes? Tune in this summer to find out.
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2010 CHEVROLET EQUINOX
Body style Front-engine, FWD/AWD, five-passenger, four-door SUV
Engine 2.4L/182-hp/235-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/255-hp/290-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3770 lb (58/42%) (mfr)
Wheelbase 112.5 in
Length x width x height 187.8 x 72.5 x 66.3 in
Headroom, f/r 39.8/39.2 in
Legroom, f/r 41.2/37.2 in
Shoulder room, f/r 55.8/55.3 in
Cargo volume, behind f/r 63.7/31.4 cu ft
EPA city/hwy econ 17-21/24-30 mpg (est)
CO2 emissions 0.80-0.99 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Summer 2009

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Chevrolet Equinox

Fair Market Price
$22,016
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $22,120
Mileage: 22 / 32
Engine: 2.4L I4
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