By Lou Ann Hammond, Thu, 3 Feb 2005 08:00:00 PDT
In a world where SUVs are losing steam there are vehicles in the SUV segment that are gaining marketshare, the 2005 Chevy Equinox is one of them. The SUV segment is crowded with such luminaries as Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Toyota Rav4, Honda CRV, Hyundai Sante Fe, Kia Sorento, Mercury Mariner and Mitsubishi Outlander. What do all of these vehicles have in common? They are medium-sized crossovers, part of the SUV segment.
The medium crossover segment is where General Motors has been saying they want to be in the SUV segment and the Chevy Equinox is making them one of the hottest contenders for that segment. With all the broo-ha-ha about General Motors and its legacy problems people are not realizing that some of GM's vehicles are doing quite well against their competitors. The Chevy Equinox is up 33 percent in sales from last year, once of the largest increases in the mid-size CUV segment.
Chevy's Blazer is on a truck frame, making it suitable for offroading and towing. The Equinox shares the same car-type architecture (platform) as the Saturn Vue and received accolades for what Chevy calls the longest-in-class wheelbase, making it almost the same size as a Toyota 4Runner. Crossovers not only drive more like a car, the Manufacturers take the interior to the next step, incorporating a lower step-in height, interior refinement, and better noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) to meet the demands of the consumer.
The Equinox comes with a 3.4-liter 6 cylinder powertrain making 185 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft of torque, easy to manuever with the 5-speed automatic. There is only one powertrain option, but the Equinox will come in front-wheel or on-demand all-wheel-drive, with front wheel antilock braking standard on either the LS or LT models. If you want the comfort in driving of a crossover, but need some light towing you can get the optional towing package that allows you to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Standard on the Equinox is the 60-40 split rear seats that allow different cargo configurations and three child anchor seats on all three second row seats. A new feature for Chevy is an eight inch "Multi-Flex" track that lets the rear seat move forward or back, allowing an adult to sit in the third row. The front passenger seat can be flattened for those trips to Home Depot. A creative invention from General Motors is the table top rear compartment. No worry about scratching or slipping, like many crossovers these days the backs of the seats are recessed and able to withstand the pressures put upon a car in todays society. The tabletop does double-duty by hiding the stuff underneath from eyes peeping into the back of your vehicle.
Maybe the reason people are buying so many of these Equinox's is because of the base price of $21,560. Pricing starts at $21,560 on the two-wheel-drive LS and goes up to $24,900 for the all-wheel drive LT. Going hogwild, however, when adding available options like On-Star, heated seats, six-disc changer and XM Satellite Radio, traction assist and side curtain airbags the price-tag can jump to nearly $28,000 on the all-wheel drive. An option, noted by its absence, is a navigation system that is not available for the Equinox.
General Motors may have legacy costs, but their new vehicles are starting to hit the street and the Equinox and the Malibu are great starters.