2017 Chevrolet Equinox: Small crossover combines style and versatility

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chevrolet entered the crossover niche with Equinox, first introduced for the 2005 model year. Marketed as a compact SUV, the vehicle has evolved, market-wise, as a mid-size crossover, and its upscale look and feel have translated into strong sales, reaching nearly 2 million since its launch, making it Chevrolet’s second-best selling vehicle, after the Silverado.

Chevy markets Equinox with the slogan: “For whatever life brings.” They reason that “No matter where you want to go, the 2017 Equinox is ready to take you there. With a unique combination of style, versatility and available active safety technologies, this fuel-efficient† ride fits just about any lifestyle.” J.D. Power agrees, and has made Equinox the “Highest Ranked SUV in Initial Quality in a tie, two years running.

While Equinox will be redesigned for 2018 with new sculpted styling, a new interior and an engineered weight-loss of about 400 pounds, the 2017 Equinox freshens with such available items as a Black grille and Black Chevrolet bowtie; Black 18-inch aluminum wheels; Jet Black perforated leather-appointed seats; memory settings for the driver seat and exterior mirrors and Black mirror caps and roof rack cross bars.

Equinox is sporty and trendy looking with a sleek exterior, chrome accents, dual-port grille and premium projector-beam headlamps for night visibility. Based on its dimensions Equinox fits into the small mid-size category at 187.8 inches long; 72.5 inches wide and 66.3 inches high on a 112.5-inch wheelbase. The crossover is set at a minimum ground clearance of 6.9 inches and has a curbweight of 4112 lbs. for the 3.6-liter LT I tested.

Standard Equinox power comes from the Ecotec 2.4-liter I-4 engine, mated to a 6T45 Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic transmission for 182 hp and 172 lbs-ft of torque. The system has been EPA-rated at 21 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway for FWD and 20/28 for AWD. My Equinox test ride powered up with a muscular 3.6-liter V-6 that provides 301hp and 272 lbs-ft of torque. The AWD version I drove is rated at 16/23, and week of mixed-use testing earned an average of 19.4 mpg.

Equinox is sneaky-fast. It performs and feels quicker behind the wheel than expected. On the track, my Equinox finished off a zero-to-60mph sprint in 7.2 seconds and maintained its acceleration to complete a quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds. On the road and on uneven surfaces, the Equinox independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar, tuned shocks and hydraulic ride bushings and its independent four-link rear with coil springs and trailing arm; stabilizer bar; hydraulic link bushings were tuned for passenger comfort rather than for driver’s feel and precise handling. The hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering was often vague, and understeer is common during quick maneuvers, but acceleration is reliable, and the cabin is quiet and calm.

The Equinox cabin is accommodating, and filled with entertainment and function. Segment-exclusive MultiFlex sliding rear seats offer an additional eight inches of space for passenger comfort or more cargo room when seats are moved. With seating for five, and a spacious feel, the interior offers 40.9 inches of front headroom and 39.2 inches in row two; legroom is 41.2 inches in the row one and 39.9 in the second seats, while shoulder room shows 55.8 and 55.3.

And Equinox offers available state-of-the-art technology designed to keep drivers and passengers connected and entertained. The convenient features include: Siri Eyes Free™ that allows compatible iPhone® users limited hands-free interaction, and available Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation, featuring full GPS guidance.

Safetywise, Equinox is built on a solid structure that includes strategic applications of high-strength steel to protect occupants in the event of a crash. It is equipped with safety features designed to avoid crashes or protect occupants in the event of one, including: six standard air bags -- dual frontal air bags, head curtain side air bags and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side air bags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control, traction control and rollover mitigation.

The 2017 Chevrolet Equinox starts at $23,995 for the base L-trim model with the 2.4-liter engine; the sticker includes destination and freight ($895) in front-wheel-drive; the FWD LS starts at $26,405; the LT bases at $27,645; and the top-of-the-line Premier trim starts at $30,935. My LT test ride was in all-wheel-drive (which I nearly always recommend) adds $1750. My ride was upgraded to the 3.6-liter V-6 for an additional $1500 and that also upgraded the power steering. The Convenience Package was added for $1300, for driver and front passenger heated seats, automatic climate control, remote vehicle starter system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The Technology Package added $890 for a Pioneer® premium audio system and Chevrolet MyLink® with Navigation. The Driver Confidence Package was added for $495, with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist, the power sunroof was added for $995 and the Protection Package added $300 for all-weather floor mats and front and rear molded splash guards. The sticker-as-tested was $35.125, but discounts and allowances can cut that by as much as $2250, so check with your local dealer.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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