As the gas prices kept rising after 2002, the transition from truck SUVs to more efficient car-based crossovers was inevitable. The success of Ford Escape / Mazda Tribute showed that buyers wanted more space than the segment leaders Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 could offer. For 2005, General Motors came up with the Equinox, which was a step in the right direction, however, the Equinox was only available with a V6 engine and didn’t deliver good fuel economy. That changed with the 2010 redesign, as the second-generation Equinox offers segment-leading 32 MPG on the highway (in FWD 4-cylinder version).
Scroll down for the 2005-2009 Equinox review
2010-2013 Chevrolet Equinox
Although classified as a compact SUV, the 2012 Equinox is more than 6 inches longer than either Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. Chevrolet Equinox seats 5 and comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Equinox lineup consists of the base LS, mid-level LT and top-of-the-line LTZ trim levels. The LT is further split into 1LT and 2LT grades. The Equinox comes with a 182-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine or a 264-hp 3.0L V6. For 2013, the 3.0L V6 was replaced with 301-hp 3.6L V6. Both the 4-cylinder and the V6 are advanced late-generation engines with a direct fuel Injection. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. The Equinox has disc brakes on all four wheels. The 4-cylinder models have an electrically assisted steering; the V6 Equinox comes with a conventional hydraulic power steering.
Safety: The Equinox is equipped with six standard airbags: front, seat-mounted side and front-to-rear head curtain airbags with rollover protection. Antilock brakes, electronic stability control with traction control are standard. In the NHTSA crash tests, the 2011-2013 Equinox received four stars overall, with four stars in the front- and five stars in the side-impact crash test. The 2010-2013 Equinox has received Top Safety Pick ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Interior: The Equinox has has one of the best interiors in its class. The two-tone design looks very stylish. The cabin materials are good; fit and finish is excellent. Overall, it just feels like a more upscale vehicle. The rear seat space is another big selling point. The 60/40 split rear seat reclines and slides back and forth. With the rear seat slid all the way back, two adults can ride in the back very comfortably, with plenty of space in front. With the rear seats folded down, the Equinox offers 63.7 cu. ft. of cargo capacity. You also can slide the rear seat all the way forward to have more cargo space. The 250-watt Pioneer 8-Speaker audio system with a subwoofer that is available on 1LT and standard on 2LT and LTZ, sounds very clean with a nice deep bass. The list of available features includes a USB port for the iPod, navigation with the rear view camera, OnStar, Satellite radio, remote starter, rear-seat entertainment system and programmable power liftgate.
Handling and Performance: On the road, the Equinox handles nicely and rides well. It’s very quiet and stable on the highway, although you will hear the 4-cylinder engine when accelerating. The 6-speed automatic transmission allows the Equinox to keep the engine rpms low – cruising at 60 mph (96 km/h) the tachometer needle stays just under 2000 RPM. The Equinox also has the Eco mode; when it is activated, the transmission shifts into a higher gear sooner and locks the torque converter clutch as often as possible for better mileage. Overall, the 2012 Equinox LTZ was one of the best SUVs we test drove. The only thing we didn’t like was its wide turning radius.
Fuel Economy: The front-wheel drive 4-cylinder Equinox delivers segment-leading 32 MPG on the highway, although some owners report that the real-world fuel economy is not as high. Still, it’s a very respectable number. To get the perspective, the 2012 Nissan Altima mid-size sedan with a 2.5L 4-cylinder motor is also rated at 32 MPG on the highway. Of course, with the V6, the fuel economy drops. The 2012 3.0L V6 AWD Equinox is rated at 16/23 MPG.
2012 Compact SUVs, sorted by highway MPG:
Chevrolet Equinox FWD 2.4L, auto: 22/32 MPG
Honda CR-V FWD 2.4 4 cyl, auto: 23/31 MPG
Honda CR-V 4WD 2.4 auto: 22/30 MPG
Ford Edge FWD 2.0L 4 cyl, auto: 21/30 MPG
Chevrolet Equinox AWD 2.4L 4 cyl, auto: 20/29 MPG
Nissan Rogue FWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 23/28 MPG
Toyota RAV4 2WD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 22/28 MPG
Ford Escape FWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 21/28 MPG
Toyota RAV4 AWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 21/27 MPG
Subaru Forester AWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 21/27 MPG
Ford Escape AWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 20/27 MPG
Ford Edge FWD 3.5L V6, auto: 19/27 MPG
Nissan Rogue AWD 2.5L 4 cyl, auto: 22/26 MPG
Reliability: As it’s a fairly recent model and there is not that much data available on reliability. We will update once more data will be available. This thread talks about some of the problems.
Competitors: The small SUV segment was previously dominated by Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, however with the Equinox being as good as it is, especially on the inside, it’s a debatable question now. In terms of reliability, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester will probably have the edge, but if you want more room and comfort than you can find in Japanese brands, the Equinox is a worthy contender.
Verdict: There are not that many vehicles where you can find comfort and utility of an SUV with highway gas mileage of a mid-size sedan. With the gas prices where they are, the 4-cylinder Equinox is a more sensible choice unless you need to tow a trailer.
2012 Chevrolet Equinox specifications
|187.8 in (4771 mm)
72.5 in (1842 mm)
66.3 in (1684 mm)
112.5 in (2857 mm)
|Turning circle: (curb to curb)||40.0 ft / 12.2 m (with 17 and 18 inch wheels)|
|Maximum behind rear seat:||31.4 cu. ft.|
|Maximum behind front seat:||63.7 cu. ft.|
|Curb weight, base||3777 lb / 1713 kg|
|2.4L, std on LS, LT, LTZ||2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC ECOTEC VVT
with Direct Injection and Flexfuel (E85) capable
182 hp @ 6700 rpm 172 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
|3.0L opt on LT, LTZ||3.0-liter, V6, DOHC VVT with
Direct Injection and FlexFuel (E85) capable
264 hp @ 6950 rpm 222 lb-ft @ 5100 rpm
|Trailer towing capacity:|
|Recommended Fuel:||Regular Unleaded or E85 ethanol with fed. emissions|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:|
|2.4L:||18.8 US Gal. (71.1 L)|
|3.0L:||20.9 US Gal. (79.1 L)|
|Engine oil capacity:|
|2.4L L4, including filter:||5.0 US qt (4.7L)|
|3.0L V6, including filter:||6.0 US qt (5.7L)|
2005-2009 Chevrolet Equinox
The first-generation Chevrolet Equinox is a V6-powered car based mid-size crossover SUV. The Equinox is a five seater; no third-row seating was offered. The 2005-2007 Equinox came in LS and LT trim levels. It has an old-style GM’s 3400 3.4L OHV engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Both, LS and LT trim levels were available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. For 2008, LTZ and Sport trims were added to the lineup. Chevrolet Equinox Sport came with a new-style 3.6L DOHC V6, six-speed automatic transmission, hydraulic power steering and a performance-tuned suspension. All other models have an electric power steering.
Interior: Inside, the Equinox is roomy with plenty of headroom and legroom. The rear seat space is better than in most SUVs. The styling is not bad, but the quality of the materials is modest; you also may find that seats stain easily. The sliding rear seat can be moved nearly eight inches fore or aft. With the seat moved all the way forward, you get 68.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Instruments and controls are mostly OK, but the window controls and front cup holders are placed not very conveniently. The up-level audio system sounds very nice. On the road, the Equinox drives comfortably. The high driving position gives a good view of the road, but fairly thick A-pillars and rear head restraints create some blind spots. The base V6 has decent power, but is quite noisy.
Safety: From 2007, stability control system, standard four-wheel disc brakes, and tire pressure monitoring are standard. In the NHTSA front and side crash tests, the 2005-2008 Equinox received five stars out of five. The 2009 model got five stars for the front and four stars for the side-impact protection.
Reliability: According to many sources we checked, the 2005 and 2006 Equinox models had the most problems. Consumer Reports also rates the 2005 and 2006 Equinox poorly. The 2007 and newer Equinox is rated about average.
Common Problems: Electrical and wiring problems are reported often. A faulty ignition switch can cause the vehicle not to start intermittently. A broken air temperature blend door can cause the heater to blow cold air; the fix is expensive. The DIY repair is described on this site. Bad front stabilizer bar links can cause a clunking noise from the front end. Check Engine light problems, as well as ABS / Traction Control issues are common. Water leaks and various noises are also often mentioned. Many problems and repairs are described at this forum.
2009 Midsize SUVs:
2009 FWD 2.5L 4-cylinder, auto Ford Escape: 20/28 MPG
2009 FWD 2.5L 4-cylinder, auto Mazda Tribute: 20/28 MPG
2009 FWD 2.4L 4-cylinder, auto Dodge Journey: 19/25 MPG
2009 AWD 3.5L V6, CVT auto Nissan Murano: 18/23 MPG
2009 AWD or FWD 3.4L V6, auto Chevrolet Equinox: 17/24 MPG
2009 FWD 3.6L V6, auto Chevrolet Equinox: 17/24 MPG
2009 AWD 3.5L V6, auto Toyota Highlander: 17/23 MPG
2009 AWD 3.6L V6, auto Chevrolet Equinox: 16/24 MPG
2009 AWD 3.5L V6, auto Honda Pilot: 16/22 MPG
2009 AWD 3.5L V6, auto Ford Edge: 15/22 MPG
Competitors: Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander are the best mid-size SUVs but they are much more expensive. Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are not as roomy, but more reliable. Nissan Murano is not too bad, it handles well and has more power, but it only comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and not everyone likes driving it. Ford Escape and its twin Mazda Tribute are traditional-styled boxy mid-size SUVs, available with either 4-cylinder or V6 engine. Both are rated similarly in terms of reliability. Ford Edge rides quieter and is a bit more stylish inside, but is also more expensive.
Verdict: With a strong V6, good crash test scores, spacious interior and decent cargo space, the Equinox can work as an alternative to a minivan or a larger SUV. On the downside, the turning radius is wide, fuel economy is not very good and the reliability is not up to par with Japanese brands. Also, because it doesn’t hold value very well, this is not the vehicle to pay top dollars for. You may want to stay away from 2005 and 2006 Equinox altogether, as these two model years received most of the complaints.
During a test drive, watch out for engine noises and hard shifting or other signs of transmission problems. Check all the electrical accessories, including the heater and air conditioner, power locks and windows, heated seats and rear wiper.
2009 Chevrolet Equinox specifications:
|188.8 in (4796 mm)
71.4 in (1814 mm)
67.0 in (1703 mm) – without roof rack
112.5 in (2858 mm)
106.4 cu. ft.
35.2/68.6 cu. ft. – behind rear seat / behind front seat
|Turning circle: (curb to curb)||41.83 ft (12.75 m)|
|Curb weight||3829 lb (1737 kg) – AWD|
|LS, LT, LTZ||3.4-liter OHV 12-valve V6
185 hp @ 5200 rpm, 210 lbs-ft @ 3800 rpm
|Sport||3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
264 hp @ 6500 rpm, 250 lbs-ft @ 2300 rpm
|Maximum towing capacity:||3500 lb.|
|Recommended Fuel:||Regular Unleaded|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:|
|FWD:||20.5 US Gal. (77.6 L)|
|AWD:||16.6 US Gal. (62.8 L)|
ChevroletForum.com - unofficial Chevrolet enthusiasts forum.
Equinoxforum.net - various discussions mostly about the late generation Equinox.
GM Owner Center – Download owner’s manuals, watch how to videos, check maintenance schedule, read about warranty and recalls.
Search for Recalls at NHTSA
By TA Editors. Photos: General Motors, Testing Autos