Chevrolet launched a brand-new midsize sport utility vehicle as an early 2005 model. The Canadian-built Equinox is Chevrolet's first crossover SUV; it combines SUV styling with a car-based, unibody design. New for 2008 is a Sport model that includes a 79-horsepower jump from the standard Equinox and a new six-speed automatic transmission. Other Equinox models use a five-speed automatic. The Equinox competes with compact SUVs such as the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson.
For 2008, GM's OnStar communication system is standard, and there are new exterior colors available. LTZ and Sport trim levels are also new for 2008. Other trim levels include the LS and LT.
LTZ models feature standard 17-inch wheels, chrome door handles, heated front seats and side curtain airbags. A Pioneer seven-speaker stereo is also standard.
Chevrolet says the Equinox is 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.
LS models have a body-colored front and 16-inch steel wheels, while LTs gain body-colored mirrors and 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels. The LTZ gets 17-inch wheels, and Sport models get 18-inchers. New colors include Navy Blue Metallic, Black Granite Metallic and Golden Teal Metallic.
Sport models have their own unique exterior features, akin to the TrailBlazer SS, with a lowered stance, no roof rack (available as an option), a sportier front and rear, and high-polished aluminum wheels.
A standard vehicle information center features 20 vehicle information and personalization functions.
Multi-Flex rear seating aims to provide 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.
Several audio upgrades — including XM Satellite Radio and a six-CD changer with MP3 capability — are optional, as are heated front seats, leather upholstery and a moonroof.
Sport models feature unique seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Standard features on the Sport include an MP3-compatible stereo, remote start, XM Satellite Radio and heated front seats.
Under the Hood
A new 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing is available in Sport models. It produces 264 hp and 250 pounds-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. In place of the standard electronically assisted power steering is a more traditional hydraulic system.
Other Equinox models get Chevrolet's 3.4-liter V-6 that produces 185 hp and 210 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped, 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 standard.
A standard electronic stability system includes Electronic Trailer Sway Control that monitors trailer sway and can step in to assist drivers.
Other standard features include four-wheel-disc antilock brakes. Optional side curtain airbags include a sensor to maintain inflation longer in the event of a rollover.