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#9

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,805 - $17,099
Original MSRP: $22,615 - $29,970
MPG: 22 City / 32 Hwy
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2010 Chevrolet Equinox Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers find the 2010 Equinox, armed with new engines, accelerates better than its predecessor and boasts excellent fuel economy. However, the Equinox's ho-hum driving experience just can't match those of the best SUVs in its class.

To see how the Equinox handles real-world driving, take a look at our Equinox video.

  • "With either engine, the Equinox driving experience is more appliance-like than invigorating." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The drive is what's important to us and here the Theta-platformed Equinox delivers like its Japanese competitors don't. Despite the Michelin low rolling resistance tires, road feel is actually not too bad, body control is excellent for the segment, pushing the vehicle further into the territory of car-like feel than its predecessor." -- Jalopnik
  • "The electric power steering drains feel in order to save fuel, and the brakes are merely ho-hum. The CR-V and particularly the RAV4 offered much more steering feel, although both were far noisier than the whisper-quiet Equinox." -- Car and Driver
  • "Nonetheless, one of my few complaints about the Equinox is that the four-cylinder engine had an annoying, sewing-machine whine when I pushed it hard. The ride also is a little boaty for my taste." -- BusinessWeek
  • "The Michigan roads we rumbled our way through in the Equinox had enough tar patches and pothole fixes to cause the suspension to almost hum along at a 60 MHz frequency. But the reality was that this crossover displayed great road-handling abilities and was firm without being jarring." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power

The Equinox's new engines include a direct-injection 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and an optional 3.0-liter V6 that makes 264 horsepower. The V6 (which costs an extra $1,500) offers slightly stronger acceleration, but reviewers say the four-cylinder engine is powerful enough for most buyers. The V6 may not be worth the fuel economy penalty that having a bigger engine entails. Along with better fuel economy, four-cylinder models have the advantage of "Eco" mode, a button which alters the drivetrain to maximize fuel efficiency even more.

Fuel economy is a major high point for the Equinox. According to the EPA, the FWD four-cylinder model achieves 22/32 mpg city/highway, while the AWD four-cylinder model achieves 20/29 mpg -- highway figures that trump every SUV in the compact class (except the Equinox’s platform-mate, the GMC Terrain).

The Equinox’s V6 models achieve less impressive ratings of 17/25 mpg and 17/24 mpg for the FWD and AWD models, respectively. These are on the lower side of the Affordable Compact SUV class.

  • "The four-cylinder Equinox is no speed demon (neither is the V6 for that matter), but it has enough acceleration that you'll never worry about merging onto freeways or making a pass with a reasonable amount of room." -- Autoblog
  • "Boot the four-cylinder Equinox's electronic accelerator and you'll notice that this is an engine that has to work hard to move the Equinox -- the lightest version of which comes in at 3770 pounds. Fortunately, the six-speed automatishifts with precision and extracts every bit of thrust available." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Chevy enjoys pointing out that the Equinox on the highway has a 600-mile range -- a fact that shouldn't be overlooked. You could fill up in Detroit and make it all the way to Des Moines, Iowa, before you need gas again." -- Detroit News
  • "I pulled out into traffic several times, floored it, and found even the small engine's oomph adequate for most purposes." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Power from the four-cylinder is adequate, though the V6 is more spirited, as the numbers hint. If economy is your prime concern, go for the four-cylinder, and you'll be plenty happy.” -- About.com

Handling and Braking

While reviewers were unimpressed with the previous Equinox's steering and suspension, most find the new model rides more smoothly. However, test drivers are still disappointed at the overall driving experience, which they find adequate but boring.

  • "The Equinox rides on a strut-type suspension up front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. The ride is comfortable, quelling bumps as well as the Honda and Toyota with the exception of some small, high-frequency oscillations that will mostly go unnoticed." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Power steering with the V-6 is a hydraulic system, while the I-4s get a new rack-mounted electric power-steering system. Steering feel is noteworthy for a direct-acting electric rack, better than some electronically controlled hydraulic systems." -- Motor Trend
  • "The full-boat Equinox V6 LTZ we've driven feels a little stiff in the knees. This example is shod with 18-inch tires; and while the ride doesn't feel harsh, it nevertheless feels a bit unyielding on the lumpy Michigan roads." -- Edmunds
  • "The Honda CR-V arguably has the best vehicle handling, the way it tracks around curves and precision displayed in changing lanes at high speeds. But the Equinox is pretty close behind the CR-V, topping the Toyota Rav4 and acing the Nissan Rogue." -- Washington Post
  • "My driving partner thought it felt a little truck-like. This writer? I liked it just fine for its combination of firmness, and lack of skittishness while negotiating the lower-Michigan highways and backroads." -- Left Lane News

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