The Chevrolet Equinox aims straight at the popular compact SUV segment, with its high-tech features, accomplished road manners and generous interior room. However, it doesn't quite deliver on its promise of good performance and fuel economy from its standard engine, and the interior is rather drab.
The base engine is a bit of a letdown; the 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder doesn't pack a lot of reserve power but delivers a decent 25 mpg. The transmission isn't the slickest -- you do feel some shifts -- but it's not annoying. The standard gas-saving stop/start feature is unobtrusive. The optional diesel engine, which we also tested, boosts fuel economy to 31 mpg overall, tying the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as among the most fuel efficient SUVs. Note that the Equinox diesel posts 41 mpg on the highway as opposed to 36 mpg for the RAV4 Hybrid, and the latter has an edge in city type driving and is free of the diesel tradeoff of more engine noise and vibration at low speeds.
To its credit, the Equinox is roomy, has a quiet interior, absorbent and controlled ride, and responsive handling.