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Review of: 2016 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4dr LTZ
2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ: Check the best-before date
By Chris Chase
Jul. 8, 2016
The 2016 model year brings refreshed styling to Chevrolet’s compact crossover, the Equinox.
Chevrolet was the first of General Motors’ brands to move into this family-friendly segment. A first-generation model was twinned by Pontiac’s Torrent, and more recently, GMC designed its own boxy body to ride on the second-gen’s chassis as the Terrain.
Chevy showrooms are better venues for this kind of vehicle than GMC’s; the Terrain’s styling tries too hard to look truck-like in a crowded segment of vehicles designed to drive like mid-size cars.
Pros & Cons
- + Handling
- + Interior space
- + cargo versatility
- - Value for money
- - No cutting-edge technology
- - Interior materials
The styling revisions are subtle, tidying up the Equinox’s appearance but representing a pretty mild update to a car that’s been on the market since the 2010 model year. Six years might as well be forever in a segment as competitive as that of the compact crossover.
It’s a small thing to focus on, but my LTZ tester had a nice-looking set of 18-inch wheels on it; they’re new for 2016.
Chevrolet says the Equinox’s 2016 update brought some interior changes, including a standard touchscreen stereo and backup camera across the line, new fabric upholstery in the base model, and a newly-available interior colour scheme called “Saddle Up.” Only the stereo and camera appeared in my LTZ tester, and the most significant other change I saw was the addition of a little storage shelf in the centre stack.
Some aspects of the Equinox’s interior have aged well, like its straightforward gauges. This was also one of the first cars in its class with a sliding rear seat to optimize legroom or cargo space.
Less welcome is a dash composed completely of hard plastic; the only soft material front-seat occupants will find is on the upper door panels. It’s all put together well enough, but just about every other compact crossover feels more expensive inside than this one.
The new backup camera is welcome, but that’s all there is for standard safety kit. My top-trim LTZ tester was fitted with optional lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and side blind zone alert systems, as well as a forward collision warning system. What Chevy doesn’t offer are more advanced active safety items, such as automatic emergency braking and the adaptive cruise control function that usually accompanies it.
And while I like the simplicity of the Equinox’s simple gauge setup, the green-on-black dot matrix trip computer display in the cluster looks like stone-age stuff compared to the high-resolution colour displays you’ll find in many more recent designs.
Four-cylinder engines are typical in compact crossovers, with several of the Equinox’s key competitors offering nothing but that. The 2.4-litre under this Chevy’s hood is a decent fit here, but two things stand out: First, the eco button just ahead of the shifter toggles a fuel-saving mode that kills the engine’s performance, so be sure to deactivate it during your test drive in order to get an accurate feel for how the Equinox behaves with its base engine.
Second, I like that the six-speed transmission isn’t programmed to constantly upshift as early as possible when accelerating. There isn’t a lot of low-end torque available here, so it’s notable that the transmission lets the engine do what it needs to get the Equinox up to speed.
That said, if you’re in a hurry, the optional V6, which provides a small car’s worth more power, would be a better choice.
The ride is on the firm side, but comfortable, and the Equinox is a pretty good handler. While the V6 adds a lot to straight-line performance, it also adds weight that, even by the seat of the pants, has a negative effect on the car’s handling balance. Four-cylinder models feel more confident through fast, sweeping curves, something that can make a big difference even in a vehicle that will rarely be driven that way. Also of note: This four-cylinder isn’t the smoothest around, but the well-insulated cabin keeps the worst of the mechanical soundtrack out.
Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption estimates for a four-cylinder Equinox with AWD are 11.5/8.2 L/100 km (city/highway); my tester averaged a little more than 12.0L/100 km in a week of city driving.
Equinox pricing starts around $27,000 for the LS trim with front-wheel drive, but my LTZ tester starts at a shade under $35,000 with all-wheel drive, a price that includes a power tailgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and heated leather seating with electric driver’s seat adjustments. Add to that the True North Edition package (navigation, upgraded stereo, and sunroof) and a driver confidence package that bundles forward collision, side blind zone and rear cross traffic alerts, lane departure warning, and rear park assist, and the as-tested price rises to $37,750.
Similar money spent on a RAV4, CR-V, Escape, Santa Fe, or Sorento will get you all of those features plus a few notable by their absence in the Equinox, such as dual-zone climate control and intelligent keyless entry.
Kia’s Sorento stands out as a mid-size crossover priced like a compact. At its $38,295 EX+ V6 price point, it comes with seven-passenger seating, strong V6 motor, adaptive cruise, hands-free tailgate, electric parking brake and a heated steering wheel. And a Honda CR-V gets autonomous emergency braking at just over $37,000. If you’re shopping on a features-per-dollar basis, the Equinox is not a strong value.
The Equinox is the oldest design in its class, and it shows. Chevrolet has either been unable or unwilling to make running changes significant enough to allow it to offer some of the more advanced safety and convenience features found in most of its competitors.
Take an Equinox for a test drive and we’d predict you’d be happy enough with what you find; it’s what you won’t find that’s more likely to turn you off.