Saturday, February 26, 2011

2011 Chevy Equinox LTZ: Nice Brochure

I drove the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse in October 2010 and thought it was OK. It paled in comparison to the tricked out 2011 Ford Flex, but I could see it's place for Chevy-lovers. I feel the same way about the Equinox. On paper, this is a nice Crossover: good gas mileage, great cargo space, On*Star, etc. But behind the wheel it's just ho-hum. There are too many buttons on the dash and poor visibility. This is not a vehicle that will convert me from a luxury buyer to a Chevy buyer.

  • 100,000 mile/5-year Powertrain warranty
  • Great cargo space behind 2nd row
  • Good gas mileage: 32 MPG combined for the 4-cylinder; 23 MPG combined for the 6-cylinder
  • Rear Seat slides 8" and reclines
  • Quiet ride
  • Rear lift gate has 3/4 open option
I was raised on the Ford side of Rural Route 1, but I haven't owned a Ford personally (my parents did - they even had a Pinto wagon). I haven't owned a Chevy either, and from my driving experiences this year, it doesn't look promising. It's not that I still hold on to the "Ford's Rule and Chevy's Drool" mentality from the farm, it really is all about the cars. I go online and pick up brochures and I like what I see. But I went to the car show and wasn't impressed. And I go to the dealer's lots and I'm not impressed. I know everyone is working hard to design, create and sell a great Chevrolet, but I'm not ready to buy.

The Equinox is in the same category (Crossover) as my Lexus RX so I had a more apples-to-apples experience with this drive even though my Lexus is 10 years older. And when I compare the Equinox with the 2010 Lexus RX 450 Hybrid I drove in November, I can't imagine anyone making the move from Lexus to Chevy. I bring this up because I was so impressed with the Ford Edge and Flex that I would make the switch for one of those vehicles.

So what did I like about the Equinox? It was a quiet ride, easy to drive, and low to the ground, so it's easy to get in and out of and kids will have an easier time climbing in the back seat. The cargo space behind the second row is quite large and can easily accommodate two golf bags and two overnight bags if you're going to Palm Springs for the weekend without kids. When the kids are going along, you can fit a big stroller and four small - medium-sized suitcases. I'm not sure if the bags and a double stroller will fit easily, but those double strollers are B-I-G. For everyday use, the Equinox has plenty of space for groceries, a stroller, or a dog.

I did find the visibility to be a problem. I had the seat adjusted for my height (5'3") and felt I was high enough to see all around, but the third pillar back (the 'C' pillar) was too wide and I was not confident that no one was in my blind spot when changing lanes. And I don't think that is a height thing - I think that is a design thing. More and more vehicles have thick 'C' pillars and I think those vehicles should be required to have standard blind spot detectors built in. Safety first!

My other big complaint with the Equinox is the dash configuration. Too many buttons. There was a nice sized display screen that's also used for the back-up camera and navigation. I was confused by how to pair my phone, scroll through options, find a new radio station, and which options were controlled by the buttons and which were touch screen compatible. I say pick one: it's either all button-use or all touch screen. I couldn't change the radio station and keep my eyes on the road at the same time. Again, safety first!

Lift Gate with 3/4 Open Option
The Equinox is getting a lot of good press for it's good fuel consumption numbers which is great. I agree that 32 MPG combined for a heavier crossover is impressive. However, read the fine print: the better MPG is only with the 4-cylinder. And the 4-cylinder is fairly weak and may not meet your needs if you drive in hilly or mountainous areas. The 6-cylinder had decent get-up-and-go on the highway, and for the size of vehicle, is still impressive at 23 MPG combined, but it wasn't as powerful as an Ecoboost Ford engine. If you are interested, go drive both the 4 and the 6 and then drive a Ford with Ecoboost. And let me know in the comments section here what you think.

In my opinion you can find a better American Crossover. If you really want to find the right one for your needs, you need to drive them all and really consider where you drive and what your priorities are. I just don't understand how the Equinox can beat out some of the other Crossovers in all the various "Car of the Year" contests. I like the Equinox brochure, but found the drive to be mundane and not an experience I wanted to prolong.

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Insipid comments about a great car. Sorry but the Equinox is better than the Lexus, and the Mercedes ML suv for that matter. I know because I have previously owned both of them. BTW bad comparison. The Lexus hybrid probably costs $20,000 more and is a not a compact suv like the Equinox.

  2. You're right, the Lexus Hybrid is an expensive vehicle when purchased new. However, I wasn't comparing them as if they are in the same price range. My comparison is with driving experience and technology. I don't consider either vehicle to be a "compact SUV" - both are in the Crossover category. I'm glad your Equinox meets your needs - it certainly has great cargo room behind the 2nd row.

  3. Using that logic how does the Porsche crossover hold up to th Lexus? I have a Porsche 911, would it work with you to compare it to a Mazda Rx7? Design is a big factor for me and I feel GM has done a great job with the Equinox as they did with the CRX. "Meeting my needs" is not in the equation for me. Btw you have a great looking blog so I know you care about design! Also, the crossover category didn't exist when the Lexus you discussed came out 10 years ago! The Lexus was a wonderful design back in the day but as an automotive writer you need to to move on.

  4. The above Chevy Equinox as it shows 32mpg with 4-cylinder engine, I can say this crossover as a perfect model for car buyers.

  5. The Equinox is a decent family car, built for everyday city driving. But you're right about the dash, it feels and looks like the cockpit on an F-16. They should have sticked to the "Keep It Safe and Simple" principle.