Now that small crossovers have become the best selling SUVs, GM seems to be in a difficult position. They’ve always excelled at producing big, heavy trucks and SUVs, but the Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda are where it’s at for the smaller stuff. The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V have a stranglehold on the small SUV market, and Chevy’s offering – the Equinox – was lost in the rest of the crowd due to its lack of personality, originality, and quality.
For 2010, however, Chevy intends to change that. They completely redesigned the Equinox this year inside and out, and gave it more options and standard features, different engines, a (gasp) refined interior, and above all, a bit of personality. Does the new 2010 Chevy Equinox have what it takes to stand up against the market leaders?
Surprisingly, it does. Chevy must have finally gotten tired of being beaten down by the Japanese in this segment, because the 2010 Equinox shows a significant improvement in not only the Equinox line, but in Chevrolets as a whole.
The upgraded interior isn’t just a redesign; it’s GM’s new effort at upgrading their interiors, which have always been bland, low quality, boring, poorly designed, and unoriginal. The 2010 Equinox shows a huge improvement on this with sharp and swooping lines, modern design elements, quality materials, better ergonomics, and controls that actually make sense. An available two-tone interior looks especially slick, and at night, a soft teal glow from the buttons and shift indicators create a modern atmosphere. The driver information display proves very useful and sits between the two main gauges on the instrument cluster. My only qualm with the interior is the overly-busy center console, which tries to cram too many buttons into a small space, making finding the intended button a time-consuming affair.
Exterior changes are significant, giving the Equinox a more mature and overall more attractive appearance. While I’m not a big fan of the styling personally, it’s not something I’d call ugly by any means, and it’s still a big improvement over the old model. Just like the outgoing Chevy Equinox, the 2010 model is slightly bigger than most competitors. It offers average cargo capacity for its class, and provides plenty of room for both front- and rear-seat passengers.
Driving isn’t a complete bore either. Steering is responsive, the ride is comfortable, and the cabin is quiet. A standard aux jack and available USB port for audio is good, but is paired to an awful-sounding sound system. An upgraded 8-speaker stereo is optional, and recommended. Our tester was equipped with the Rear Seat entertainment system which includes LCD monitors in the front seat headrests and a DVD player with headsets to keep the kids quiet during long trips. Other segment-exclusive options include a power programmable liftgate and rear-view camera.
The 2.4-liter, 182 hp four-cylinder engine in our tester is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and provides a good amount of power for most drivers. A 264 hp 3.0-liter V6 engine is available for $1,500 extra if you need to tow something or don’t like to wait, and an AWD layout is available for an additional $1,750. Fuel economy is surprisingly good at 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy, which is better than the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and even the Ford Escape Hybrid. The AWD layout drops economy down about 3 mpg, and the V6 gets a respectable 18/24 mpg.
At a starting price of $22,440, the 2010 Chevy Equinox is actually less than the outgoing model, and offers much more. This makes it a great value when compared to competing models, especially considering the high build quality, which was previously absent from most GMs. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you ignored the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox in your quest for a small crossover.