Road test: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD
Re-focused Equinox a bright sign of things to come for GM
Good enough. With the exception of a handful of cars, General Motors' North American efforts for decades seemed to adhere to this adage - and no better than that. But having stumbled into bankruptcy and emerged from it, GM's top brass knows that the brand has much to prove to the world, and that good enough simply won't do any longer.
And while GM is in the process of shedding its brands, becoming trimmer, it remains eager to demonstrate that it is still top dog in the automotive kingdom. Kicking things off for the new GM - or for the Chevy brand, at least - is the Equinox, a compact crossover that seeks to run with the best in the business.
First impressions go a long way
The impression that things are different this time around is immediate the moment you grab hold of the Equinox's key. It's a slick, Volkswagen-style switchblade unit with soft rubber pads and a texturized Chevy logo on the back. And then you set eyes on the vehicle itself. This is a nice looking crossover.
Seemingly comprised of equal parts Malibu midsize and Traverse crossover in appearance, the Equinox proudly wears its golden bowtie and split grille. But from other angles, it's not as ostensibly Chevy - at least not as we know it. Tight panel gaps, tasteful chrome accents and rounded fender flares give this LTZ model an upscale look, while the rear end with its arched roofline and blacked-out rear pillars mimic the lines of the Mercedes-Benz ML. How's that for a styling benchmark?
Assembled in Ingersoll, Ont., the redesigned Equinox rides on the new "Theta" platform, which is shared with a number of GM crossovers including the Saturn Vue and the 2010 Cadillac SRX. On the road, the Equinox presents itself nicely. Comfort is still a high priority, with a cushy feel over rough roads, but unlike the outgoing-generation, this one doesn't feel like a four-wheeled waterbed, wobbling about on undulating roads. It feels tied down, its suspension keeping body motions nicely in check. Four-cylinder models receive electric power steering, which makes for light, if feel-free steering. But what did you expect? This is a crossover with a fuel-saving on the agenda.
And speaking of saving fuel, it's the Equinox's forte. Two new engines are on offer - both are smaller than before, both boast direct-injection and both are mated to six-speed automatics. A 2.4-litre four-cylinder is the entry-level engine, which develops 182 horsepower, or a 264-hp 3.0-litre V6 as seen in the entry-level Caddy SRX and Buick LaCrosse. But the four, the subject of our test, is also the star here: its power figures are heartier than the bulk of its rivals, and its fuel economy figures are rather appealing.
New for 2010 is an Eco mode, which when selected helps the Equinox attain genuinely impressive fuel economy figures. When active, the torque converter locks up sooner, the gearbox shifts up sooner, and shifts down less frequently. While performance is hampered slightly, the benefits are impressive. Chevy claims a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Equinox uses as little as 6.1 L/100 km on the highway, making it more fuel-efficient than the Ford Escape Hybrid and a number of compact cars.
Theoretically, you'll be able to travel a diesel-like 1,100 km on a tank of regular unleaded in a four-cylinder FWD Equinox.
A 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. Do you think classic cars were made better than modern rides?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- Yes, the quality of cars from the 1960s and '70s is the best
- No, modern technology makes cars better today
- Maybe, it's hard to say since most Canadians get a new car every 10 years