2012 Chevrolet Equinox

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Combined MPG


Seating capacity

187.8” x 66.3”


Front-wheel drive



The good:

  • Quietness
  • Gas mileage
  • Backseat space
  • Interior design and quality
  • Powertrain refinement

The bad:

  • Ride may be too firm for some
  • Mushy brake pedal feel
  • Left-side blind spot
  • Cloth bucket seats have hard cushions
  • Interior volume, considering its size

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2012 Chevrolet Equinox trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2024

Notable features

  • Four-cylinder or V-6, both with flex-fuel capability
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Six-speed automatic
  • 32 mpg highway rating for FWD four-cylinder
  • Available lane departure and front collision warning systems

2012 Chevrolet Equinox review: Our expert's take

By Joe Bruzek

Editor’s note: This review was written in August 2011 about the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox. Little of substance has changed with this year’s model. To see what’s new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

With the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox’s high-quality interior and great ride, it’s easy to see why the compact SUV has been a runaway success, though its value diminishes as the trim level and price rises.

It’s been two years since our initial review of the redesigned 2010 model. Now, a few years in, we’ve tested multiple Equinox trim levels against fresher competition. This time around, I drove the most-expensive trim, the LTZ, with a four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. Other trims are the LS, 1LT and 2LT.

There aren’t many feature changes for the 2011 Equinox versus the 2010. For a comparison of the two model years, see here.

Winner of $29,000 SUV Shootout
The Equinox’s competition has only improved since our original review, yet the Equinox took the top spot in Cars.com’s $29,000 SUV Shootout against the redesigned Kia Sportage, Dodge Journey and six other SUVs. The Equinox’s family-friendly features, premium interior feel and value won over our editors and the participating family. To read the full comparison, click here.

Less Is More
The lower-priced LS and LT models offer the most bang for the buck in the Equinox lineup, with great interior fit and finish, high-quality materials and an isolated experience from the road compared with crossovers in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Plus, the Equinox’s most family-friendly features aren’t limited to just the LTZ.

That’s great news for LS and LT models, but it contributes to the fact that the Equinox starts to lose its charm above $30,000. The four-cylinder Equinox LTZ I tested cost $33,260 with optional all-wheel drive, navigation and sunroof, excluding an $810 destination fee. At that price, its interior teeters on average compared with the quality of the similarly priced Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. Conversely, what’s impressive is that the Equinox starts at $22,995 with essentially the same interior.

A front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder LTZ starts at $28,570 and includes leather seats, a power liftgate, rear parking assist, driver’s seat memory and roof rails.

The Equinox’s power liftgate is a handy feature that’s seldom found on affordable cars. It’s also available on the Equinox 2LT for $495 — especially nice given it’s not uncommon to see a feature like this offered only on a model’s most expensive trim level or bundled in a pricey option package. The power tailgate with remote open/close proved an invaluable convenience during a weekend trip when the liftgate was opened and closed a dozen times per day.

Another family-friendly option on the 2LT is a rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens for $1,295. There’s a standard backup camera on 2LT models that doesn’t require a navigation system, as many cameras do, while a rearview camera is optional on 1LT ($24,160) models for $845 in a package that also includes remote start and a powered driver’s seat.

Road Tripping
With its great highway manners, the Equinox excels on road trips. I drove more than 300 miles, round-trip, on highways with posted speed limits of 70 mph. The Equinox tracks straight and true at those speeds, rarely requiring course correction from the steering wheel. It’s also quiet and comfortable at 70 mph, with a compliant ride.

As we’ve noted in other evaluations, the Equinox’s cargo area is smaller than its large exterior suggests, which is a potential problem for road-trippers. The sliding backseat moves forward to provide the most cargo room, mitigating the problem but sacrificing backseat legroom. Doing so was the only way I was able to fit a weekend’s worth of cargo for four people: four duffle bags, two slow cookers, two folding chairs, a golf bag, a large cooler, and groceries. Only with some clever packing were we able to maintain visibility through the rear window.

Under the Hood
The Equinox’s wheezy 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder is an under-performer considering the LTZ’s high asking price. The engine struggles to pull its freight when fully packed. My passengers commented on the straining noises that came from under the hood as the engine wound out in every gear to compensate for the additional weight.

The four-cylinder is acceptable in LS and LT models, but for $30,000-plus, in the LTZ it leaves a large performance gap compared with the Murano’s and Edge’s silky smooth V-6 drivetrains. A 264-hp V-6 is an additional $1,500 on Equinox 1LT, 2LT and LTZ trims for those who need extra power.

The Equinox is a Top Safety Pick at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It scored the agency’s best rating, Good, in front-, rear- and side-impact crash tests, as well as in a roof-strength test.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Equinox four out of five stars overall using its revised testing procedures for 2011. In frontal and rollover tests, the Equinox received four out of five stars, and it earned five out of five stars in side crash tests.

Standard safety equipment includes front airbags, side-impact airbags mounted in the front seats, and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. Also standard are an electronic stability system, antilock brakes and six months of OnStar with automatic crash response. A paid subscription is required after the initial trial period.

For a complete list of standard safety features, see here.

Equinox in the Market
Buyers don’t have to spend the steep $34,000 as-tested price of our LTZ to get what makes the Equinox a great crossover SUV. The Equinox’s greatest attributes are just as present on less-expensive trim levels, and as the Cars.com $29,000 SUV Shootout proved, the Equinox has the right stuff to be competitive in the busy sub-$30,000 price range.

Photo of Joe Bruzek
Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with Cars.com for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-bruzek-2699b41b/ Email Joe Bruzek

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior 4.3
  • Performance 3.8
  • Value 3.9
  • Exterior 4.4
  • Reliability 3.9
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Most recent consumer reviews


Oil guzzler, lasted 250k miles

Bought this vehicle as my first car, used, about 2 years ago, and one of the very first experiences with it was it shutting down as I tried to leave a gas station, and found the thing to have no oil. I believe to have bought it at around 100,000 miles on it. This thing was a oil guzzler through and through, and oil changes and checking my oil was almost religious in how often I was on it, often trying to set up the next oil change appointment so that I was the least amount of miles over. Having it shut off whilst trying to take off or slow down was a very often experience, to the point that I ussually had one to two quarts of oil in the back in preparation. Don’t get me wrong though, even though Oil changes were incredibly often and checking oil was a near often 3 times a week basis, this was the only problem I had with my car. I did not have any other major problems with this vehicle, nothing transmission or otherwise. I was able to take this vehicle across multiple states, including one or two trips almost getting up to 20 hours of driving in one direction. Another warning though, do try to avoid any mountains, as the vehicle was only a few mph faster then the semi trucks going up, no breaking whilst going back down the steep slopes was more of a fear for my life type deal. Eventually, the vehicle served its purpose, missing an oil change by 2,000 miles due to life circumstances, and the oil pan thing cracking severly by the timing belt, at 252,478 miles (approximate). I would not recommend this car, due to awful oil consumption, and if you do think about getting this, know that you must be on top of maintenance for this vehicle as it is not forgiving on forgetfulness.


Don't Buy It

This vehicle stopped me on traffic light. Drivers suspected I was in distress before it restarted. 170km and doing oil change bi weekly. Now Catalyst Convert is gone. The Engine is dysfunctional consumed more fuel and oil.


Power steering nearly caused accident

We bought a used Equinox 2 years ago with less than 40k miles on it. The car has given us trouble since the first week we had it. We have had two instances driving that the power steering failed. We had to stop, pull over and restart the car which fixed the problem the first time. The second time it took 2-3 restarts before the power steering worked again. This could have been life threatening, luckily the roads weren’t busy at the time. We took the car to a Chevy dealership and they could find nothing wrong. We took it to private mechanics and they found the same….:nothing. Now when you start the car occasionally (once a month or so) the car starts and shows the power steering failure message. Have to sit and wait about 30 minutes and try again which does work sometimes. But, now you’re a little late for work or you have to wake up super early, just to make sure the car will work and then you are super early to work or let it sit in the driveway running. I was a Chevy only kind of person at first. Chevy had all my business. After going 0-2 with the last two chevys I will stick to a brand that has at least some kind of reliability. I’m assuming the year of the Chevy is just xxxxty. Because my other was also a 2012, but I’m not risking my money, time or the safety of my family to “give Chevy a chance.” My wife won’t even sit in the car anymore and I can’t blame her. My 3 year old was in the car one of the times the power steering stopped and I can’t imagine how that felt to my wife. I want to stick to the American Makes of car. Problem is my Honda Pilot has 155k miles and never has given me a problem. Hard to rationalize getting a Chevy again to myself. Maybe Ford would do a better job…….

See all 244 consumer reviews


Based on the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox base trim.
Combined side rating front seat
Combined side rating rear seat
Frontal barrier crash rating driver
Frontal barrier crash rating passenger
Overall frontal barrier crash rating
Overall rating
Overall side crash rating
Risk of rollover
Rollover rating
Side barrier rating
Side barrier rating driver
Side barrier rating passenger rear seat
Side pole rating driver front seat


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chevrolet
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/100,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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