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2015 Chevrolet Equinox: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2014

For the late-to-arrive Equinox to compete in the tough 5-passenger crossover category, which is defined by automakers such as Honda and Toyota, it would need more refinement and style, plus better fuel economy.

Now in its second generation, the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox has certainly come a long way. It's a true competitor within a highly competitive class of vehicles. Besides the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, the Equinox has to contend with capable small crossovers such as the Ford Escape, the Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5.

Alongside its GMC counterpart, the Terrain, the Equinox is well rounded with equal strengths in quality, functionality and drivability. This sets it apart from competitors that excel only in certain areas. With the Equinox, you get a jack-of-all-trades vehicle but, as the rest of the saying goes, a master of none. For a family-centric people mover, that can be a good thing.

What's New for 2015?

The Equinox sees only minor changes for 2015, including the addition of GM's new OnStar system with 4G LTE capabilities and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

What We Like

Quiet and comfortable ride; impressive fuel economy rating for a base engine; refined look and feel; sliding rear seat; good storage space

What We Don't

Vague steering feel; busy control layout

How Much

$25,200-$34,400

Fuel Economy

Drivers can get the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox with one of two engine choices. Standard is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes a sufficient 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. It sends power through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

An optional 3.6-liter V6 is available for all trim levels except the base LS. It's a muscular engine, putting out 301 horsepower and 272 lb-ft -- a major gain over the Equinox's old 3.0-liter V6. V6-powered Equinox models are rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with front-wheel drive, while that rating falls to 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway with all-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The Equinox is offered in three trim levels: base-level LS, midlevel LT and upscale LTZ.

The LS ($25,200) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, keyless entry, OnStar, cruise control and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. An auxiliary input jack and a USB/iPod interface are also standard.

Upgraded LT models ($27,000) boast several big additions, including a standard rearview camera, a 7-in center-mounted touchscreen with Chevrolet's MyLink interface, Bluetooth audio and voice control for the infotainment system. The upgraded Equinox 2LT adds automatic climate control, heated front seats and a remote starter.

Topping the Equinox range is the leather-trimmed LTZ ($32,800), which boasts chrome 18-in wheels, a power lift gate, rear parking sensors and a power passenger seat. The luxurious Equinox LTZ also includes a lane-departure warning system and a forward-collision-alert system.

Equinox options include a navigation system, a sunroof, all-wheel drive and the muscular 3.6-liter V6 engine.

Safety

Besides six airbags, including 2-row head curtains, the Equinox comes armed with OnStar, which can alert emergency personnel in the event of an accident.

Also helping the Equinox's passenger-protection equation is anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control and traction control. Plus, a range of driver-assistance equipment such as lane-departure warning and forward-collision-alert systems are offered as an option on the 2LT model and included on the LTZ.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Equinox earned a 4-star overall rating, composed of a 4-star frontal crash score, a 5-star side-impact score and a 4-star rollover score. In crash tests conducted by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Equinox earned an excellent Top Safety Pick+ score after acing each of the group's tests.

Behind the Wheel

Where power is concerned, the 4-cylinder Equinox is adequate for daily driving. This engine operates smooth and without much drama, but it will labor a bit when the Equinox is loaded down with people and/or cargo.

With the new V6, the Equinox is much more spirited. It enjoys quick throttle response and very good acceleration. Building up to highway speeds or making an aggressive left-lane pass is also no problem.

Handling-wise, however, the Equinox is unexceptional at best. It's not particularly confident in corners, and the steering doesn't feel very well connected. This little compact crossover is by no means a driver's car, but it never promised that, and most buyers in this segment aren't looking for one anyway.

What they are looking for is a comfortable and quiet ride for daily commuting and weekend outings with the family -- and that's just what the Equinox delivers.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Escape -- The Escape has more high-tech features, such as an automatic parking system and better fuel economy, but it lacks the versatility of a sliding rear seat. The Escape and the Equinox are comparable in overall refinement.

Jeep Cherokee -- The newly redesigned Jeep Cherokee offers impressive refinement, two highly competent powertrains, and a long list of standard and optional equipment. It's one of our favorite smaller SUVs.

Mazda CX-5 -- The Mazda CX-5 boasts reasonable pricing and an impressive driving experience, prioritizing nimbleness, equipment and fuel economy above all else. If you don't need a lot of interior space or a high-performance powertrain, it's worth taking a look at.

AutoTrader's Advice

We think the most sensible Equinox is the midrange 2LT model that's powered by the 4-cylinder engine. The 2LT offers the best value of the three available trim levels. It's very well equipped with features such as a standard backup-camera system and an upgraded touchscreen stereo. It can be equipped with MyLink and rear entertainment. Furthermore, the 4-cylinder engine provides adequate power combined with very good fuel economy. Unless you have a 3,000-lb boat to tow, it is a practical choice. For those living in colder climates, we recommend adding all-wheel drive to the package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Chevrolet Equinox: New Car Review - Autotrader