Quick question: what's the best-selling Chevrolet vehicle in North America? If you said the Silverado, well, that's easy; pickups are hot these days. Okay, what's the second-biggest seller for Chevy? The Equinox compact crossover. When you think about it, that's obvious, too; the compact crossover segment is exploding here right now and, in Canada, it's set to take over from compact cars as the biggest vehicle market.
So, the Equinox is important for the Detroit brand, then, and Chevrolet has sold more than one million of its second-generation Equinox since it debuted in 2010. And now, the revised 2016 model takes its bow at the North American International Auto Show here in Toronto, as well as the Chicago Auto Show south of the border.
This isn't an all-new model; that isn't expected for another two years or so. But Chevrolet has tweaked a few areas to give it a little refresh in hopes of keeping it a hot commodity in this crowded market. The most noticeable changes focus on more premium styling and safety.
The lineup now consists of the LS, LT and LTZ; the front and rear fascias on every model have been refined, with a new, dual-level grille more in line with the Cruze. The whole lineup gets projector-beam headlamps, while the upscale LT and LTZ models get LED running lights for more bling; the LTZ also gets new fog lamps. In the rear, the tail lights are now the signature dual-element design that are featured on other Chevy cars. The higher trim levels also get added chrome accents. New wheel designs will also be offered, and the V-6 model gets chrome exhaust vents.
Beyond appearance, Chevrolet has added a host of safety and convenience features. Most notably, standard on all models will be a backup camera; base models get a new seven-inch colour monitor for the infotainment system. That nestles into a revised centre stack with more storage and updated control graphics. Available on the LT and LTZ models will now be a blind-zone alert and rear cross traffic sensor; these join other safety features currently available, such as forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
What's not changed? Chevy is sticking with the base 182-horsepower, 2.4-litre four cylinder and the optional 301-hp, 3.6-litre V-6, with both coupled to a six-speed transmission and optional all-wheel drive.
Unfortunately for consumers, we won't see the new Equinox in showrooms until the fall. Prices haven't been released yet but expect the 2016 version to be around the $26,405 starting price of the current model.
You'll like this car if ... You want a solid domestic crossover for the family.
- Base price: $26,405 (current model)
- Engines: 2.4-litre four-cylinder, 3.6-litre V-6
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): Not available
- Alternatives: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Santa Fe
- Looks: This model debuted in 2010 and, though it’s not unattractive, it is starting to show its age. The refresh will help but there’s no denying Chevrolet needs an all-new model soon if it wants to keep its share of the hot compact SUV market.
- Interior: Again, the aged Equinox interior will benefit from the revised centre stack, a new chrome-accent gear shifter and new seat materials if it wants to keep up with other newer models. The sliding rear seats help balance cargo and passenger needs, while the larger infotainment screen on base models is a welcome addition.
- Performance: The 2.4L is frugal but works hard at accelerating this larger-than-compact SUV. The 3.6L is certainly not fuel efficient but is able to tow up to 1,588 kilograms.
- Tech: The additions of a rear-view camera and other safety features will help bring the Equinox on par with others in the class. All models have the option of OnStar with a 4G LTE connectivity and a WiFi hotspot.
- Cargo: Despite being larger than other compact crossovers, the Equinox still has less cargo room than most, with a total of 889 litres; the Toyota RAV4, for example, has 1,090L. The revised centre stack up front now has a larger storage area.
The refresh will help keep the Equinox in the market, but it's more of a stop-gap until a much-needed new version arrives. Having said that, this model is still a viable alternative that offers comfort, good handling and a proven record of reliability.
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