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If she liked her Venture, she'll love an Equinox

Jeremy and Michael: What's your advice regarding the Pontiac Torrent or Chevy Equinox? We are currently looking at a Chevy Equinox. We have owned a Chevy Venture for the past 10 years and it's been fabulous. Reading reviews on the Chevy Equinox makes me a bit nervous. Any advice? And what about the Buick Enclave? Thank you so much for your help! - Wendy

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Vaughan: Wendy, think no more about the Pontiac Torrent or any other Pontiac for that matter. Fini. Over. Gone. Deader than Stephen Harper's bid for a Security Council seat.

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Cato: Pontiac was a dead brand walking for at least a decade before GM was forced to kill it in bankruptcy. Probably two decades. Pontiac hadn't built excitement since before Stephen Harper was in short pants.

With Pontiac gone - and Saturn, and Hummer - GM's challenge now is to rebuild its reputation. No easy task, coming off a government bailout. Corporate welfare is offensive to plenty of taxpayers. But let's be honest: if governments here and in the U.S. had let GM fold, that would have sent at least a million more people into unemployment in Canada and the U.S. combined.

Vaughan: No speeches, Cato. You may be right, but stick to the cars.

Cato: Here's what I think is even a bigger problem for GM right now. The cars in Chevy showrooms are all over the map. The inconsistencies are staggering.

Vaughan: Corvettes sitting next to Aveos, right?

Cato: You nailed it. Last week, Consumer Reports released the findings of its latest reliability study. Take a look at the worst model for reliability in the Chevy fold: the Aveo subcompact. The best was the Corvette Z06. Here's something else: 69 per cent of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC models had average or better reliability. For Chevy, 83 per cent of models are average or better.

Now think about the everyday consumer walking into a Chevy showroom. Standing out like a sore thumb in that collection of mostly decent and some very pretty good cars is the lamentable Aveo. Not very reliable, not very pretty and basically a cheap import designed and built by GM's Korean affiliate, Daewoo.

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Yet over there is the 'Vette, made in Kentucky and designed and engineered in Detroit. Dollar for dollar, the 'Vette is one of the best performance cars on the planet.

On top of that, Chevy designs are all over the map; there is no consistent look here.

Side by side with the Aveo and the 'Vette is the HHR wagon, which, of course, looks like a miniature 1950s Suburban. What a jumbled showroom.

Vaughan: I said no speeches Cato, but you just can't stop yourself. There is an Equinox is in that showroom, too, and you seem to have forgotten about it and Wendy's question.

Cato: I'm getting to it. The Equinox has a new design, modern and very well-done. It's selling so well that GM had to boost the production shared between GM plants in Ingersoll and Oshawa.

Now back to that reliability data I was talking about, from Consumer Reports; it says the Equinox is a pretty good mid-size crossover/SUV - a recommended model.

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Vaughan: The Equinox is safe - excellent crash test results - comfortable, pretty decent to drive and has good fuel economy. Wendy also brought up the Buick Enclave, which moves her thousands of dollars up-market.

Cato: In this new CR reliability study, the Enclave ranks best among all Buick models. A very solid, very quiet rig and GM loads it up with plenty of sales sweeteners.

Vaughan: These are two very different vehicles, though. The Enclave is a Lexus RX wannabe.

Cato: Yes, but it's bigger than the RX. The Buick is available with three rows of seating.

Just as an aside, Buick showrooms are far more coherent and consistent than Chevy's. The LaCrosse, the Regal, the Enclave - these all have a consistent look and feel to them. Chevy, not so much.

Vaughan: Wendy, it's our practice to provide three alternatives, so I'd add the Kia Sorento to your shopping list. It's selling well. Kia is doing 100 a month, perhaps more.

Cato: Wendy, I like the Equinox best here, even though the Chevy showroom is riddled with inconsistencies.

Vaughan: After all his speechifying, Cato has come up with the correct answer.

Wendy, if you thought that lamentable Venture of yours was "fabulous," you'll be absolutely blown away by the Equinox.

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox LS AWD

2011 Buick Enclave CX AWD

2011 Kia Sorento EX Luxury V-6

Wheelbase (mm)




Length (mm)




Width (mm)




Height (mm)





2.4-litre four cylinder

3.6-litre V-6

3.5-litre six-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

182 hp/172 lb-ft

288 hp/270 lb-ft

278 hp/248 lb-ft

Drive system



Full-time 4WD


Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

10.1 city/6.9 highway

13.4 city/9.0 highway

11.1 city/7.9 highway

Base price (MSRP)




Source: car manufacturers

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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