This is not a vehicle for the sports car buyer, obviously. The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ might, however, be a solid extra car for the sports car owner or those needing for utility in their driveway. Like practically all of the crossover SUVs, the Equinox is good at several things and a solid choice for buyers looking for versatility in their driveway.
The Equinox is one of the more popular small crossovers, and for the price it’s nicely equipped. It has clearly been made, and rightly so, with families in mind. It comfortably seats five and is available with a rear-seat DVD system with a screen in each seat back and dual wireless headphones. One of the other interesting finds inside the Equinox is the MultiFlex sliding rear seat. This seat can be moved fore or aft almost eight inches to either give 31.4 cubic feet of storage or a very spacious 40 inches of rear legroom, a class-leading figure. There are also several handy storage bins located throughout, an oversized glove box, a closed storage under the center armrest that can handily fit a laptop, four 12-volt power outlets, eight cup and bottle holders, and a programmable power liftgate that was standard on our LTZ test car. Up front, the Equinox has Chevrolet’s MyLink Radio, now available with navigation, that has all the Bluetooth/smartphone/USB/voice-activated connectivity that you would expect integrated in a seven-inch touch screen. The system is highly intuitive, loaded with features and enjoyable to use.
For the sake of safety, the Equinox also has GM’s Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning systems, yet we could do without the latter. Even with multiple adjustments, we could never find the happy medium between warning and annoying. (We turned it off). A handy rear vision camera and rear park assist are also available. Overall, the experience on the inside is a nice combination of comfort, utility and safety. If you haven’t been inside a Chevrolet in a while, expect to be pleasantly surprised by the upscale levels of refinement and build quality. People with a small family who need a basic run-around type of vehicle that could also handle long trips with ease might want to give the Equinox a shot.
In the styling department, it is well-proportioned, but really just another compact SUV and nothing more. With SUVs of this type, it’s not really possible to look pretty in the traditional automotive sense of the word. The chrome trim, “exposed edge” windshield and rear glass, and optional 18-inch wheels do, however, help the Chevy crossover’s case just a bit. Considering the Equinox’s key competitors (Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4), GM’s stylists likely decided that a conservative appearance was better than something quirky or with some character.
Engine options for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox include a 2.4 liter I-4, but the top of the line LTZ test car had the 301 horsepower 3.6 liter V-6 (also found in the Cadillac CTS and GMC Terrain) and the available all-wheel-drive. Power is up 14% from last year’s 3.0 liter V-6, and Chevrolet claims that the new V-6 will do the same 23 miles per gallon on the highway as the old one. Chevrolet also claims a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. It can’t, therefore, get a full race team to the track, but for people with a small formula car and basic open trailer it should get the job done.
In around-town driving, power was plentiful with the torquey engine getting you away from stoplights in a care-free manner. Another gear or two would have helped the Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission, but the vented disc brakes — 12.6 inches at the front and 11.9 at the rear — were more than up to the task of hauling down the Equinox from speed. As sufficient as the Equinox is in some respects, though, you can’t ignore some simple physics. This is still a nearly 4,000 pound SUV with a high center of gravity, and therefore it was never meant to be a spirited performer on the twisties. The extra power and the revised front suspension with dual-flow dampers make the Equinox a livelier, more drivable vehicle than last year, but it’s still always going to feel like a SUV. And that’s okay. Our biggest complaints behind the wheel were from the over-eager lane departure warning system and poor rear visibility from the bulky c-pillar.
This whole compact SUV, or crossover market appeared pretty quickly and has become a highly competitive one. The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is really just one of the bunch, but the stout V-6 seated in the LTZ and the practical, handsome interior in our test car make this a standout.
2013 Chevrolet Equinox AWD LTZ
Base Price: $32,265
Options: 3.6 Liter V6, $1,500; 18″ Chrome Clad Aluminum Wheels, $1,000; Mylink Radio with Navigation, $795; Metallic Paint, $325