Anyone who avoided the first-generation Equinox due to its cumbersome handling characteristics no longer has to worry about that problem. The Equinox is now more carlike. The copious body lean is gone and passengers can ride in comfort without their heads being tossed side to side with every flick of the steering wheel. The steering is light and somewhat numb, and the brakes are easy to modulate, but the new Equinox is every bit as good as a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 in terms of handling.
It rides well, too. With the standard 17-inch wheels, the Equinox absorbs even sharp bumps without disrupting passenger comfort. The available 18-inch wheels also provided a comfortable ride on rough Southeast Michigan streets. My only complaint is a bit of body drumming over washboard surfaces.
The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is upgraded this year with the addition of direct fuel injection, which improves both power and fuel economy. It provides usable power from a stop and on the highway, and it even offers decent passing punch. Chevrolet quotes a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds for a front-wheel drive model, which is pretty quick for a four-cylinder-powered vehicle of this size.
Fuel economy for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder is an EPA-rated 22/32 mpg City/Highway on an Equinox with front-wheel drive. That's class-leading fuel economy. Not even the smaller RAV4 or CR-V can match the Equinox's 32 mpg Highway figure. And thanks to plenty of sound-deadening material and acoustic glass in the windshield and front windows, the 2.4-liter is smoother and quieter than most four-cylinder engines.
For 2010, Chevrolet switched from a 3.6-liter V6 to a 3.0-liter V6 as the top engine in the Equinox. While the horsepower rating is the same at 264 horses, the 3.0 has 28 less pound-feet of torque and, on the road, it feels considerably less powerful. (We didn't have EPA fuel economy ratings for the new 3.0-liter V6 at press time; the previous 3.6-liter V6 engine was rated 16/24 mpg, while the previous 3.4-liter V6 was rated 17/24 mpg.) We found the new 3.0-liter V6 doesn't feel that much stronger than the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Chevy says a front-drive Equinox with the V6 can accelerate to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. That's less than a second faster than the four-cylinder, and the V6 costs more while getting worse fuel economy.
In short, we recommend the four-cylinder models as being a better value.