Despite the departure of the rear entertainment system, which is great for providing moments of adult solace in the car, the 2012 Equinox represents a good value in the small crossover market with its quiet ride, smooth handling and stylish looks.
While the Equinox offers a smooth ride, I wouldn't call it exciting or agile. Out of the gate -- or the driveway, as it were -- and on hills, the Equinox accelerated with sufficient gusto, but the overall driving experience was humdrum. Of course, humdrum is perfectly fine for tooling around town with the kids in tow, and it certainly keeps you safe since your lead foot isn't constantly itching to get the better of you.
The 2012 Chevrolet Equinox has a starting MSRP of $23,450. The LTZ trim with front-wheel drive that I tested starts at $29,380. The addition of the V-6 engine, a navigation system, 18-inch chrome wheels and a collision alert/lane departure warning system pushed my test car's price to $33,540.
The 2012 Chevrolet Equinox has the look of a crossover that is more expensive than it actually is. The LTZ trim that I tested comes with chrome door handles, heated chrome side mirrors and chrome roof rails. It all looked quite luxurious. Once you see the Chevy logo, you're actually a little surprised. I was more than happy to drop off my kids at school in this car and just as pleased to park it in front of my favorite fancy shoe shop.
My oldest, who's 5 years old and on the small side, wasn't able to open the five-seat crossover's doors, so that was left to me. However, once the doors were open, all three of my children -- the smallest one being a petite 1-year-old -- could climb in on their own. The power liftgate was a pleasant surprise in its smooth, quiet operation.
Rear cargo space is adequate, but there's less rear cargo space in the Equinox than in some of its competitors. There is 31.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 63.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, which is lower than the 2011 Honda CR-V's 35.7 and 72.9 cubic feet, respectively.
My test car had the optional 264-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine and front-wheel drive that got an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway. The all-wheel-drive version with the same engine gets one mile less per gallon both in the city and on the highway. To maximize miles, consider the standard 182-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that gets 22/32 mpg. The Equinox uses regular gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
Much like its exterior, the 2012 Equinox's interior belies a higher price. The silver- and black-colored plastic surfaces look good, and the 7-inch navigation screen displays information clearly. There's a black plastic visor over the navigation screen to prevent glare, which isn't aesthetically pleasing but is functional. The center stack is easy to use with simple, well-thought-out buttons and knobs.
In addition to good looks, the Equinox's cabin is also spacious. The 60/40-split rear seats slide back and forth up to 8 inches and recline to make sitting in them comfortable for even the largest passengers.
Oddly, I found the storage compartments surprisingly narrow. The center console is deep enough to hold a laptop snugly, but it can't hold a purse or anything bulkier in width than a couple of inches.
I tested the top-of-the-line LTZ trim that comes standard with a power liftgate, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors and driver's seat memory settings. Bluetooth connectivity, sliding and reclining rear seats, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and an MP3 jack are standard on even the lowest trim level, and most of the higher trim level features are available as options. The navigation system and forward collision and lane departure warning systems that my test car was equipped with are available as options on all trims.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT