As I mentioned in my first review, the new Equinox is class leading, improving heavily over the original version. When equipped with the four cylinder, the Equinox is a great vehicle. The mileage is top of the pack in the 5-seat, SUV class and exclusive features are great, but the real question is how does the Equinox perform with a V6 engine?
The interior of the LTZ tester I had was two tone black and cream. The leather seats were comfortable and looked terrific. The dash was hard plastic but still looked good: hard plastic is not out of place for this segment. The center stack lit up at night in a cool blue but is never overpowering. The center console is able to swallow a fifteen inch laptop whole! There is no question the interior is well designed. One of the nice features was the back seat’s flexibility. The back seat has the ability to slide back and forth like front seats to either create more legroom for passengers or more cargo room in the rear.
The exterior has a strong character line that runs from the front fender to the rear. The styling is round and a more conservative appearance than its brother, the GMC Terrain. The headlights in the upper trim levels have projector low beams with fog lamps that put out a surprising amount of light on the road. The exterior chrome accents on the bumpers, door handles, mirrors and luggage rail inserts all add to the great exterior looks. The exaggerated fender flares are not aggressive and yet add to the Equinox’s stance. The dual exhaust, only available on the V6 model, peeks out from the rear bumper with the dual chrome tips, adding the perfect finish to the rear end.
The Equinox I had was equipped with the optional V6 which costs $1,500 and puts out 264 hp and 222 ft-lb. Combined with all wheel drive, the V6 model is rated at 17/24 mpg. I averaged 17 in the city and 20 on the highway but I am sure it would beat the rated mpg on the highway if the cruise control was not set at 77 mph. Both the four cylinder and the V6 models put the power out through a one choice six speed transmission with manual shift capabilities. The transmission programming is inconsistent, sometimes pulling away from a stoplight, it would rev to 4000 rpm and then perform a lazy shift while pulling away. But then I observed at the next stoplight, while pulling away in the same manner, a quick shift occurred at 2500 rpm. This inconsistency improved under hard acceleration and the transmission shifts quickly at redline, so, it was only under light or partial acceleration that the transmission and the shifts were slow and lazy. Even when using the manual shift, the shifts were again lazy, reacting slowly and taking its time to make the change.
The LTZ model already has most optional equipment included as standard but the model I had was also equipped with 19″ chrome clad aluminum wheels for $900. They looked good and finished off the exterior chrome accents well. The total sticker price on the model I had was $32,940 and had everything other then optional rear seat entertainment.
The new Equinox is selling as fast as GM can produce them and is class leading in many respects. The V6 provides more low end torque which means less revving of the engine to get underway although you do take a hit in the fuel mileage numbers when opting for the V6. The real story with the Equinox is the four cylinder engine, without a question. Some of the competition’s V6 options offer slightly better fuel economy numbers than the V6 in the Equinox but that does not change the fact that the overall package is very competitive. Overall, I would be torn with which engine to choose if I was purchasing an Equinox although I would suggest test driving both. It really comes down to what is important; extra power, especially in the low revs, or overall fuel economy. One thing is for sure: this new Equinox is quite an upgrade. Now if only the transmission programming was as great as the rest of the vehicle.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors