8.23.2011

2011 Chevrolet Equinox Review

Front 3/4 view of silver 2011 Chevrolet Equinox
The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox.

The same knee-jerk that put drivers into SUVs last decade is taking a lot of them out, and in a lot of cases that's an over-reaction, too. The answer for many isn't "no SUV", it's a smarter, right-sized SUV, which in most cases means a crossover.

It's been a while since we've done a review of a Chevrolet Equinox, so we borrowed one from Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix for a week.

Chevy's done a great job of covering a wide price range with the Equinox, which is its smallest crossover. The base model (LS) starts at $22,995 in front-wheel drive. There are three trim levels up from there (1LT, 2LT and LTZ) and all four are also available in all-wheel drive.

Ours was the front-wheel drive LTZ. Base price $28,570. That'll get you the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder ECOTEC engine with 182 horsepower hooked up to a 6-speed automatic transmission and some nice EPA fuel economy estimates: 22 city/32 highway. Also on the standard goodies list: Four wheel anti-lock disc brakes, Stabilitrak, remote keyless entry, OnStar, a rear-view camera, Ultrasonic parking assist, programmable power lifgate, heated power outside mirrors, 17-inch aluminum sheels, fog lamps, projector beam headlamps, and and exterior chrome package.

Interior shot of 2011 Chevrolet Equinox
Inside, the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is comfortable and, in LTZ trim, loaded.
The standard equipment list for the interior is pretty long, too: Leather appointed seats with heated front buckets, 8-way power memory driver's seat and memory mirrors, sliding and reclining rear seats, automatic climate control, cargo net, cover and cross rails, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD 8-speaker Pioneer audio system, Bluetooth, outside temperature and compass, self-dimming rear view mirror and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Again, that's all part of the deal at $28,570. Not bad. In fact, very good. Good enough, in fact, that ours added only two options: 19-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels ($1,250) and the 3.0 liter V6 engine ($1,500).

Rear 3/4 view of 2011 Chevrolet Equinox

About the engine...it's a big step up in power...to 264 horses. It's great. But it's also never going to get you anywhere near the mileage of the standard four. In fact, in 60% city street and 40% urban freeway driving, we averaged 16.5 miles per gallon (the EPA estimates 17 city/24 highway for the V6). If your driving includes mountain passes, that may be a trade worth making. If, on the other hand, you're mostly doing city-street commuting, seriously consider sticking with the ECOTEC four. 

With the V6, the Equinox's bottom line was $32,130. Stick with the four and stick with the stock 17-inch wheels, and she'd come in at $29,380.

Chevy says the Equinox's prime competition is the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape, all three well into their product cycle. The Equinox is by far the freshest of the four and should be on your  list.

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