Here in Dallas, Texas, as well with many other places around the US, we hit a record with snow fall this past week. It was easily the most snow I have ever seen in my life with about a foot of snow that fell within a twenty-four hour period. I’ve driven in ice and little snow before and it gets harry and scary around Texas when it happens, mainly because no one knows what to do or how to drive in it. The snow gave us the opportunity to really wring this thing out and put it to the test. Luckily we had the AWD 3.0 Liter 2010 Equinox LTZ.
Now, in all honesty, when we heard that our next test vehicle from GM was a Chevy Equinox, we were not that excited. After all, it was just the week before that we were thrashing a Camaro SS around. In the conditions we had thrust upon us though, it turned out quite well.
Looking at the exterior of the new 2010 Equinox it has more in common, styling wise, with the late Saturn Vue than the last Equinox. In this case, that would be a good thing. Keeping with the big grill started by the 2009 Malibu, the new Equinox has an all around more rounded and athletic feel and look to it. The sweeping headlights and body lines, the small wheel arches, and a profile more found in Japanese crossovers are all appealing to the eye. There is no lack of style when going inside this Equinox either. You get a modern and refreshed center stack that is laid out nicely, and in the LTZ we drove, you get a nice touch screen infotainment system with voice command. You also get the new cluster with the integrated information system placed in the middle of the tach and the speedo, just as you do in the Camaro. The seats were leather, and although not outstandingly comfortable, they were not bad by any measure. You had a high seating position and had great control over where you wanted to move the seat. As far as style and looks go, I think they hit a home run with the 2010 Equinox. We often got complements on the looks of the car and felt it enjoyable to be in.
Let start out by clarifying that our test car was the LTZ package, this is the ultimate $36,380 (including destination charge) package with all the gadgets. The base price for the Equinox LS starts at a more respectable $23,185 with standard equipment like a 6-speed automatic transmission, XM radio, iPod connectivity, cruise control, remote keyless entry, OnStar, stabilitrak and traction control, and anti-lock brakes. In our LTZ, we had a mere $5,840 in options a top our $29,795 base price. These options included the audio/navigation/infotainment system with rear seat screens and entertainment controls, the upgrade to the 3.0 liter DOHC V6 engine with 264 horsepower, and the 19″ chrome-clad aluminum wheels.
The new infotainment system in GM products today works well and shows a great step forward for the Chevy line up. Although the touch screen was a bit of a reach at times, you do get a voice command button on the steering wheel. The system that GM uses seemed to be more annoying -to the point of not wanting to use it- with its menus to dig down to what you were trying to use. For instance, using the Ford SYNC system, you not only can say the command you also get a visual menu on the screen of your options. In the GM system, you have to wait for the lady interrupting your music to list all options and hope you remember what it was you were supposed to tell her next. It just didn’t seem as well thought out to me, but I’m sure the more you use it the easier it will be. One feature that I found immensely surprising in this car was something I have wanted and complained about not having in my own car. When you use the remote start on your key chain, you can choose to have your heated seats kick on before you get in the car. This might sound like a little nit-pick, but when it’s cold out and you have leather seats it makes all the difference. While I’m talking about the remote start feature, let me go off on a little tangent that I have about cars with remote start vs. cars with push button start. Both are great features to have on a car, but it seems that having both in a car at the same time is unimaginable. Every car we test that has one or the other only has one or the other. You can never get both on the same car… and I just don’t understand why… anyway- Another feature to touch on that I liked in this SUV is the power lift rear gate. It not only lifts and shuts on its own, but you can also choose if you want it to lift all the way open or just three-quarters open.
I know these are expensive add-ons to the Equinox, but it really does put it in a better class. Driving around a regular Equinox is all well and good but having all the extra features with the LTZ makes it a more than bearable family hauler.
The drive in the Equinox wasn’t exactly exhilarating, but it worked out well for a daily family car. Although being powered by a 264 horsepower V6 this AWD SUV almost felt under powered; not sure how the FWD 4 cylinder would hold up. The fuel economy in the V6 is rated at 24 mpg highway and 18 mpg city, and the 4 cylinder is rated 32 mpg highway and 22 mpg city. Our average, for the time we drove the Equinox was 22 mpg which we found great for an AWD V6 SUV. The suspension keeps the ride flowing well even on bumpy back roads and the cabin stays devoid of road noise and wind noise thanks to a new windshield design and more noise reduction. As we drove through the snow, we really got a good feel of what the traction control and AWD could do. Power was cut and corrected at any hint of slipping tires, and the grip easily pulled us through any situation. Its not an enthusiast car, but there is one little button that can help with those circumstances: the traction control off button. Push that button, disabling the traction control, when in a large open parking lot and it’s easy to have some fun – or so we hear.
When you boil it all down, the new Equinox is a hit in our book, as far as five passenger SUV’s go. The looks are great, the technology is top notch, the ride works well in the real world, the price is decent, and the fuel economy is ample for an SUV. Living in Texas, our SUVs are important to us and I really think that Chevy did a great job on this refresh.