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Entry-level Equinox is Chevy's bid for a balance of style, size
Tom Incantalupo
Newsday.com
ROAD TEST
Saturday, May 15, 2004

Another small SUV has hit the streets courtesy of Chevrolet: the Equinox, elbowing into an increasingly crowded arena with an entry that's a generation ahead of its trucky predecessor in handling and comfort and, at least in some ways, ahead of its competition.

In a week of tough driving that ranged from Manhattan gridlock to hilly interstate, my test Equinox was a loyal companion, well-controlled thanks in part to a fully independent suspension. It was peppy enough, comfortable and reasonably quiet for a truck. I got one complaint from a rear passenger that the seat was too hard but, otherwise, I can find no serious flaws. With the boilerplate caution that any new model carries a degree of risk for reliability, this little SUV seems worth a look.

Just one engine and one transmission are offered: a 3.4-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic.

The 3.4 is an old GM engine but it gets the job done with minimal noise and vibration. It's not as impressive or potent, however, as the Honda-built V-6 in the Saturn Vue described in this space April 9. Even though it shares some structural basics with the Vue, the Equinox is a roomier vehicle, with a 6-inch-longer wheelbase and a 7-inch-longer bumper- to-bumper length.

Even in the base model I sampled, the interior was well-appointed, with a two-tone black and beige dashboard trimmed with aluminum-looking plastic. Gauges are clear and controls well-located and intuitive in their operation.

Competitors in this class include the much smaller and four-cylinder-only Honda CR-V; the slightly smaller four- or six-cylinder Toyota Highlander; and the four- or six-cylinder Ford Escape.

The Escape, a big seller that's been freshened for '05, is available with a 200-hp. V-6 in a version that begins at $23,370 with freight and front-wheel drive.

The Highlander's six-cylinder engine blows this Chevy away, with 230 hp., and the Toyota is available with a third-row seat. But six-cylinder versions start at almost $26,000. Toyota's smaller RAV4 is cheaper but available only with a four-cylinder engine.

Full Review here

 

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Good review! See, one thing about the Equinox that makes it different from competitors is its a large, roomy, SUV for a cheap price. You can go with an Escape, which is very tight: CRV, tight, and Highander: overpriced crossover. So the Equinox is actually different from its competitors & does the job right.
 

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I haven't sat in this so my observations are predicated on this vehicle being better that the horrid interior and seating positions of the "Feels like a Woman" Chevy Midsize Truck. General Motors rarely gets an interior right.

I must say, however, that this product appears to be the first Chevrolet in decades that is superior to its market segment competitors. It actually looks decent on the outside (unlike the Malibu which has its headlights set far too high in the fenders).

I applaud Chevrolet for taking a chance on tasteful styling. I hope it is put together better than most of their products. It appears innovative with the sliding rear seat.
 

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It's been a while since Chevrolet hit a "home run". They
finely have done it. The exterior and interior are balanced and
tasteful, and the size and price are spot on too.
This should be a great selling small SUV. If it could just
have the Honda V-6, that would make it superior to anything
in it's class.
 

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Nice review. I wish GM would put the newer 3.5L engine in it instead of the old 3.4L. 200 HP sounds SO much better than 185 HP.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by usa1@May 15 2004, 11:04 PM
Nice review. I wish GM would put the newer 3.5L engine in it instead of the old 3.4L. 200 HP sounds SO much better than 185 HP.

Mark
I agreed, GM may have a winner here, with the high gas prices, it will only help.
As for anyone on this board want a better engine, it won't hurt to write GM to tell them what you want, if there is enough people write in, you may get your wish.

Ming.
 

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I like this vehicle quite a lot. I imagine that the Equinox will do well for Chevrolet, and I hope that last month's relatively small 6,500 units represent the trough in its sales.
 

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I think the reason gm didnt put the 3.5L in it yet is because they dont want to put everything in one basket. Even though the 3.5 is based off the 3.4 and will probably not have any problems they didnt want to put that engine in every vehicle. If they did have a problem they wouldnt have to recall so many vehicles. They knew the 3.4 and didnt have to worry about it. In a year or two they will probably put the 3.5 in it. They will probably also have an optional motor in it. I say either the 3.6 dohc or the 3.9. I dont blame them for putting the 3.4L in the vehicle. They are just watching their asses. By the way i love the new Equinox and in my area they are selling them like crazy.
 

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The Nox's 3.4 acutaly puts it #2 in the power, right behind the Vue. I dont want a Honda engine in any GM car. Im upset that they are doing it with the Vue first of all. Yeah its a good engine, but I dont like that whole deal. Id like to see the 3.5 in the Nox too, and Im sure it will come as teh 3.4 is phased out.
 

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Nothing wrong with the 3400. It's a good, solid, reliable powerplant that's proven itself well over the last decade or so.

That said, only 6500 units isn't much to worry about. The vehicle only just went on sale a little while ago. Once more people hear about it, more will be sold.
 

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Agreed. Just wait for the word to get out, and sales will take off. I've already seen quite a few on the road. The Equinox is a great value and different enough from its competitors to make it stand out. Should be a winner for Chevy.
 

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The 3400 in the NOX is heavily revised from the 3.4L in the Venture and Grand Am. It's supposidly more refined. Have not driven one yet, but the 3400 in the vans isn't too bad. Compared to all the 4 bangers out there in the CR-V, RAV4 and many of the VUEs and Escapes, I'll take it.
 

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This is one of (the?) best GM experiors in years. I'd go so fas as to say it's the best looking in its class. Why did they ruin the back with those aftermarket tail-lights?
 

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suuure, everyone wants a bigger engine, but in fact, what they do is go out and buy the smaller one!
that explains why when ford switched from 5.0 to 4.6 people still bougt it, and even why the 4.6 always sold better than the gm 5.7...

given that something in like 80% of the new auto sales the decisions are influenced by womans who NEVER look at an engine, probably have no interest in ever oppening the hood.
soooo, are we talking about the rest of 20% here? please give me a break, and go buy the car with the best interior, who cares about other stuff like performance, style, etc.

uh, oh, I guess this rant is way off topic, but once a month I have to vent some
/end rant
 

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once again, gm screws up with the engine. to some people, its not about what has the most power. sometimes, reviews does matter. the general perception is that the equinox will be a lower quality vehicle than any of its competitors, even (gulp) the escape. the buyers that have these doubts are exactly the ones that gm absolutely needs to get. for them, any knock on the car will be enough to verify their opinions, and help convince them some other way. if gm had, for once, introduced the right vehicle (which i believe the eq. could be), with the right engine, at the same time, it'd be a runaway success. but i don't see someone leaning 70 degrees honda and just looking around to see what else is out there as being all that intrigued when every review of the thing says "its a great package...but the engine isn't up to snuff". gm needs to shock and awe these buyers with the best of everything...not a good design that will languish w/ old tech engine until the damage to the reputation is done and can't be repaired by finally putting in what should have been there from the beginning
 

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I don't see the connection flobee. There is no perception that the Equinox will be a lower quality product just because of the engine. GM is banking on this Equinox as a core product and would not put a dud in it just to watch it go up in flames. Drive one and I bet you would be a believer. The 3.4 pulls hard, is smooth and mated to the 5 speed tranny will make it economical, too.
I am not a follower of the history of this engine, but I am sure the problems that existed in the past have been taken care of.
Later
 
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