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Drew Dowdell

Cheers and Gears Drives: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ V6 FWD

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Cheers and Gears Drives:

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ V6 FWD

By: Drew Dowdell - Owner/Editor CheersandGears.com

Photography: Drew Dowdell & Joe Joyner

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For our inaugural review after being granted access to the General Motors press test fleet, I was sent a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ.

The Equinox is Chevrolet's entry into the swelling mid-sized crossover segment. The 2010 Equinox has been completely redesigned on an updated version of GM's Theta platform shared by the Saturn Vue, Opel Antara, and GMC Terrain. Chevy lists the Equinox's competitors as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4, and Ford Escape. While that is generally true, the Equinox bases between $1,000 more than the Honda and Toyota to $2,000 more than the Ford. It would be unfair to leave it at that because the "'Nox" occupies a strange position in the market. It's wheelbase is 10 inches longer than it's three main rivals and 6 inches to 13 inches longer in overall length. This gives the Equinox the advantage in rear leg room and cargo area. If Chevy used any competitor as it's template, the closest would be the Ford Edge. They are nearly identical in each dimension, however, the Edge is not available with a 4-cylinder at this time. Indeed the Equinox falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of size among vehicles like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Edge, and Nissan Murano while having a base price thousands less.

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Exterior

The redesigned Equinox is wrapped up in a subdued but attractive package. The corporate Chevy face is attractive and sort of looks like it's always smiling at you. Chevy stepped up the details here, even branding small bowties into the light clusters. The engine compartment has the typical black trashcan lid engine cover found on so many cars these days, but the sound insulation liner on the underside of the hood has the Chevrolet bowtie stamped into it for a nice added touch. One thing I was rather disappointed with was the jarringly cheap feeling gas filler door. The door is made of plastic rather than metal and is attached with a rather flimsy plastic hinge.

Interior

Our test vehicle came with two tone leather seats with red contrast stitching and climbing inside is easy and rewarding with a very attractive dash and some very supportive seats. At first the seats are a bit firmer than I might have liked, but you can maneuver them into a comfortable position easily. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes without any of the indents of previous GM vehicles. There are 4 standard power ports throughout plus a USB port in the center console. The USB port allows for control of an iPod or other MP3 player. However, if your phone charger uses a mini-USB cable, you can charge your phone from that instead of the full size cigarette lighter adapter. Bluetooth cellphone hookup for hands free operation was a snap. All of the controls were easy to use and logically laid out with one exception. The power door lock button is a tiny, poorly marked toggle on the center stack. At night a cool blue ambient lighting comes on.

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Passenger room is outstanding for a vehicle in this class. Rear seat legroom is more attune to what you'd find in the back of a Cadillac DTS sedan. To demonstrate, we had our 6'1" assistant sit in the front passenger seat, adjust the seating forward till he was comfortable and also still able to open the glove box, then get in the second row. This is what we got.

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Two minor gripes on the interior. First, the up/down button for the manual shift feature feels very cheap and rather flimsy. That's ok though since pressing them doesn't seem to have any effect on the transmission for a second or two. The only time I can really see using them is if you are taking advantage of the V6 model's 3500lbs. tow rating. Second, the font and graph on the speedometer is white, but the MPH/KPH indicator is a rather bright green. This may sound trivial, but the indicator seems just a smidgen brighter than the rest of the gauge and in nighttime driving I found myself trying to dim the dash lights to stop the glare. GM, could you make this light match the standard muted white of the rest of the gauge?

U-Store-It

The Equinox has plenty of storage. The center console can hold a 16" notebook computer with room to spare. There are two cup holders for each outboard seating position. There are deep door pockets on each door. There is a small storage bin at the top of the center stack that was convenient for storing things like sunglasses and a toll pass transponder.

The already spacious rear cargo area can be further enlarged if your rear passengers are shorter. The second row seats (no third row is available) slide forward to allow another 5 inches of room behind them. This would be a good time to bring up the programmable rear power hatch, a feature so remarkably simple it's rather surprising that we haven't seen it in more vehicles before now. The hatch is controlled by a combination button/knob on the overhead light panel. Turn the knob to "Full" , press the inner button, and the hatch will power open to it's widest height. Flip the knob to "3/4", press the button, and hatch will open to just 3/4 of it's full swing.

At this height you might need to do some ducking to get into the rear cargo area, but it's certainly more convenient than waiting at the body shop for your paint repair to be finished. I can say that in my relatively diminutive garage, with the garage door open, I was still able to open the rear hatch to it's full height without hitting anything.

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See the USA in your Chevrolet

The drive of this 2010 Chevrolet belies it's plebeian brand. Handling is very well controlled with minimal body roll. Long drives are made pleasant by the comfortable road manners and Buick quiet ride.

On paper, the 264 horsepower V6 and 6-speed auto may not sound like enough to move the 3770lbs. Equinox, but put your foot into it and this CUV will play along. There are two unusual traits about this V6. First, although engine noise is very well muffled, you can still sometimes hear the direct injection clicking. At first this may sound like valve tap, but it's a normal sound for a direct injected engine. The second, and this is the oddest part, this engine has a distinct General Motors V6 burble sound not unlike the recently deceased 3800 series engine. The primary difference between that engine and this new unit is the new one's willingness to rev. 6500 RPM comes quickly and easily.

The Equinox gets you to your destination with minimal stops for gas. On our trip from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. we averaged 24mpg at typical highway speed. The trip back yielded 21.9mpg but also included two more people plus a trunk full of holiday shopping, luggage, and toys.

The Equinox comes standard with OnStar Turn-By-Turn. Simply press the button, give the Onstar advisor the address you wish to go to, and they will download the directions into the trip computer. There is a small screen located between the tachometer and speedometer that tells you your current road, the direction of your next turn, and the distance till your next turn. As you approach each direction change, the computer lowers the radio volume and a voice gives you your next direction. If you make any unscheduled route changes, the computer will automatically update your route without having to call Onstar back. Overall, I find the system substantially easier to use and less obtrusive than an full in-dash navigation system.

Safety

The Equinox gets six standard airbags, GM's StabiliTrack stability control, traction control, and is an IIHS top safety pick for 2009, but where you'll get to impress your friends and neighbors is with the optional rearview camera.

When you shift into reverse, a previously hidden screen illuminates on the left side of your center rearview mirror. This makes it easy to shift your glance from the screen to the mirror while reversing. Rearward visibility is marginal at best, so the rearview camera is a highly recommended option.

Overall

With it's long option list, the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox feels to be a solid entry that straddles both the compact and mid-size CUV markets, feeling more substantial than the smaller CUVs while also delivering better fuel economy in 4-cylinder form. If you option it up the the LTZ V6 form that our tester came in, you can get near Cadillac feel without Cadillac price.

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Cheers

Comfortable, quiet ride

Responsive V6

Above average fuel economy

Jeers

Flimsy fuel door

Off color and too bright MPH/KPH indicator

Test car info

2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ FWD V6 6-speed automatic

EPA Fuel economy: 18/25

Horsepower: 264 @ 6950rpm

Torque: 222 @ 5600rpm

As tested MSRP: $31,685

Photo gallery: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ

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Great writeup Olds... I look forward to other ones in the future.

For my own pleasure (and to anyone else who shares this), any chance you could take pics of the cars at night so we could see interior illumination? I happen to be a big critic about how a car is illuminated at night, and with the introduction of LED lights and now piping in a car, well, lighting can just be very expressive and really bring about a classy experience.

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Again, great write up. It would be interesting to also test a 4 cyl. version for fuel economy and power.

Sounds like the V6 was a sweetheart of a powerplant!

MUCH nicer IMHO than the Nissan Murano.

Chris

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How were the controls in the center stack? Did it take long to learn what they all did or was it confusing?

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Good question...from the photograph the center stack looks very logical compared to a lot of cars.

Chris

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Great writeup Olds... I look forward to other ones in the future.

For my own pleasure (and to anyone else who shares this), any chance you could take pics of the cars at night so we could see interior illumination? I happen to be a big critic about how a car is illuminated at night, and with the introduction of LED lights and now piping in a car, well, lighting can just be very expressive and really bring about a classy experience.

Great suggestion and I will add my thoughts about the interior ambient lighting to the original review.

As far as taking a photo, no I didn't get an photo of the interior at night. My camera is just a typical consumer point and shoot, so I'm not sure how good of a pic I can get.

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Again, great write up. It would be interesting to also test a 4 cyl. version for fuel economy and power.

Sounds like the V6 was a sweetheart of a powerplant!

MUCH nicer IMHO than the Nissan Murano.

Chris

The GMC Terrain I4 gets delivered tomorrow.:AH-HA:

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How were the controls in the center stack? Did it take long to learn what they all did or was it confusing?

All of the controls were easy to use and logically laid out with one exception. The power door lock button is a tiny, poorly marked toggle on the center stack. My photographic assistant was the one who pointed it out to me.

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That photo makes the center stack look like it's on a huge angle. Is it really, or is that just the photo?

I took that picture looking down through the sunroof.

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Thanks for all the feedback guys. You've given me a fantastic idea to make C&G reviews very unique.

BTW, you should all also bug z24bluethunder for his thoughts on the vehicle too. He was my photographic assistant and lovely back seat legroom model. :yes:

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I do think your on the right track for the write up. Were I to be a car buyer interested in this, your review would be FAR more helpful than the usual Car and Driver/Consumer Reports drivel of..."it's new this year...fuel econ could be better...we give it three and a half stars..."

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Great review. Concise, and no witch hunting. Fair, informational. I like it.

In particular I love the emphasis on the utility and convenience features, which is why one buys this vehicle. No long diatribes about how it handles 'at the track'.

Also like the mpg reports and the pictures too.

Keep it up! Can't want to see what mileage you get for the Terrain.

I'd be more than happy to test some vehicles too!

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Olds, you might mention that the Ecotech I-4 won a Wards Ten Best as a motor...

The Ecotech is one hell of a powerplant and I am really curious about what you end up thinking...

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Excellent review, Drew. These are great vehicles, I drove a 1LT AWD 4 cylinder and was very pleased.

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Since the week of Thanksgiving. I got the Equinox the Tuesday prior to T-giving and returned it the Tuesday after. It's taken me this long to write the article because I've also been working 70 hour work weeks until last week.

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Since the week of Thanksgiving. I got the Equinox the Tuesday prior to T-giving and returned it the Tuesday after. It's taken me this long to write the article because I've also been working 70 hour work weeks until last week.

it's great that c&g got the press pass, who on this site wouldn't like access to that. I'm ok if GM sends me any vette, camaro, cts, or srx to test. your review was informative and spot on with other reviews, so I would like to see your own writer's voice come out more in the future rather than this general catered to everyone style.

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it's great that c&g got the press pass, who on this site wouldn't like access to that. I'm ok if GM sends me any vette, camaro, cts, or srx to test. your review was informative and spot on with other reviews, so I would like to see your own writer's voice come out more in the future rather than this general catered to everyone style.

Thanks. To be honest I felt kinda rushed on this one. I wanted to get it done as soon as I could, but my day job kept interfering. We're going to do the review on the Terrain a little differently and get you guys involved in the process. Should be exciting!

The upcoming vehicles are:

GMC Terrain I4

Buick Lacrosse <don't know which trim>

Cadillac CTS Sportwagon

Cadillac SRX (tentative)

Chevy Traverse (tentative)

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Great review. Concise, and no witch hunting. Fair, informational. I like it.

In particular I love the emphasis on the utility and convenience features, which is why one buys this vehicle. No long diatribes about how it handles 'at the track'.

Also like the mpg reports and the pictures too.

Keep it up! Can't want to see what mileage you get for the Terrain.

I'd be more than happy to test some vehicles too!

My goal with all of the reviews is to look at the particular vehicle from the point of view of the target market.

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Reading the specs on the Equinox, I was surprised how large it is..6 inches longer, 5 inch longer wheelbase, about the same width, and 3 inches taller than my '00 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was considered a small midsize back in the day. Looks like the 'Nox has more rear leg room also.

The sliding rear seat and power hatch are nice features.

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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Looks very roomy which isn't true of all 5 seater SUVs, the Grand Cherokee, especially the older ones, for example has a smallish back seat.

One area that looks cheap is the wheels, the LTZ model should have better, but more so, the gap between the wheel and the fenders is a bit big. The Ford Edge does a better job here, they have expensive looking wheels that hug the body more.

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Looks very roomy which isn't true of all 5 seater SUVs, the Grand Cherokee, especially the older ones, for example has a smallish back seat.

True enough...mine is tight in the back, I've often had 3 adults in the back on lunch trips, but it's snug for them.

One area that looks cheap is the wheels, the LTZ model should have better, but more so, the gap between the wheel and the fenders is a bit big. The Ford Edge does a better job here, they have expensive looking wheels that hug the body more.

Most GM products usually always have a big gap between the wheel and wheelwell..room to put on snow chains, I'v read.

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