Chevrolet launched a brand-new midsize sport utility vehicle as an early 2005 model. The Canadian-built Equinox, which shares its architecture with the Saturn Vue, is Chevrolet's first crossover SUV; it combines SUV styling with a car-based, unibody design.
A 3.4-liter V-6 teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering is installed.
A body-colored front fascia is installed on the LS edition for 2006, while the LT model gains body-colored mirrors. Rear headrests are smaller in 2006 to improve visibility. The rear cargo panel will be removed midyear to boost cargo space.
Chevrolet says the Equinox takes a fresh, memorable approach to SUV design, aimed at many types of customers. The Equinox rides a 112.5-inch wheelbase and features a wide stance: 71.4 inches overall, with a 61.6-inch front track width.
The Equinox stands 67 inches tall and measures 188.8 inches long overall. The unitized body incorporates full-length frame rails and a safety cage. Coil springs are used in the independent rear suspension. A power moonroof is offered. Standard wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch tires on alloy wheels are optional.
Multi-Flex rear seating promises flexibility for passengers and cargo; the split, folding rear seat slides nearly 8 inches. Combined with the flat-folding front passenger seat, the Equinox can carry extra-long cargo. A height-adjustable cargo shelf with plastic on one side and carpeting on the other serves as both a security cover and a picnic table. The front console contains hidden storage compartments, and integrated storage bins are installed in the rear.
General Motors' OnStar communication system, an in-dash six-CD changer, an MP3-capable single-CD player, XM Satellite Radio, heated front seats and leather-trimmed upholstery are optional.
Under the Hood
Chevrolet's 3.4-liter V-6 produces 185 horsepower and 210 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. When equipped with an optional towing package, the Equinox can haul up to 3,500 pounds. Optional on-demand all-wheel drive delivers power to the front wheels during normal conditions but sends power to the rear wheels if front-wheel slippage is detected. Traction control is included on front-drive models with antilock brakes.
Antilock operation for the front-disc/rear-drum braking system is standard. Roof-rail curtain-type airbags are available. Daytime running lights are standard.
Even though the Equinox looks nicer than some SUVs, it's ordinary overall. The Equinox's two-tone interior is somewhat inviting but a little cheap looking. Small annoyances abound, too, including a parking brake lever that's not in a handy position.
Forward visibility is excellent due to a very low cowl, but large pillars and a headrest mar the over-right-shoulder view. The gauges are large, but the speedometer isn't easy to read. The radio is complicated. The seat bottoms are short, and the backseat isn't especially comfortable. The center spot is actually more pleasing by offering abundant leg space and good headroom.
Performance is simply satisfactory, though the automatic transmission is capable. Steering is imprecise and unsure, though the ride is relatively soft and cushiony.
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