CNHI News Service

Features

February 4, 2013

With the Equinox, it's pick your poison

There's a weird thing about car guys like me.

We like power, almost to the point of absurdity. We want to know all
the details about horsepower, torque, displacement and how many

cylinders are under the hood. If an engine makes lots of noise, that's

even better.


It's no surprise, then, that the last time I drove a Chevy Equinox, I

was giddy about the fact that it came with a 301-horsepower V6 engine.

More horsepower equals more happiness. That's how the car-guy brain works.

This week, though, I drove a different Equinox that came with the

standard, 2.4-liter engine that makes 182 horsepower.

And I felt like the only person on Planet Earth who would have been

disappointed.
 
Not a single person who saw the Equinox asked about how much power it

made or whether it came with the monster V6 that's a new offering this

year. Everybody I talked with did ask the same question, though: "What

kind of gas mileage does it get?"
 
The answer is 32 mpg on the highway, which isn't that much worse than

a four-cylinder Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. They're both rated at

roughly 35 mpg.
 
Considering how much bigger the Equinox feels compared t geo a four-door

sedan, that's absolutely remarkable. It has two rows of spacious

seating, lots of leg and shoulder room, a high, king-of-the-road

driving position, and an SUV-style cargo area in back. Why it doesn't

get gas mileage in the 20s is a mystery.
 
Well, not quite. The base Ecotec engine was designed primarily to get

good fuel economy using direct injection and variable valve timing —

the current benchmarks for what constitutes a modern engine in this

class.
 
It also helps that the engine is coupled to a six-speed automatic

transmission that's programmed to shift at the right time for optimum

gas mileage with a special "Eco" mode.
 
While I realize this may put me on Greenpeace's blacklist, I still

prefer the 301-horsepower engine over the four-cylinder base model.

Yes, the V6 is a $1,500 option on the higher end trim packages. And

yes, it drops the gas mileage all the way down to 24 mpg on the

highway and 17 mpg in city driving.
 
But it's powerful! It brings out the caveman side of me.

For those who have more brain cells than I do — virtually everyone, I

suspect — the base engine makes a lot more sense because it's going to

save you a ton of money.
 
Either way, you'll have a strong contender. With the 301-horsepower

version, you'll have one of the most fun-to-accelerate family vehicles

on the road. And with the 182-horsepower version, you'll have a

crossover that's wonderfully efficient and logical.
 
---
Deewk Price is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at carcolumn@gmail.com.
 
x x x x




INFO BOX:

RATINGS

Style: 7

Performance: 6

Price: 8

Handling: 8

Ride: 8

Comfort: 9

Quality: 9

Overall: 8



What was tested?

2013 Chevrolet Equinox FWD LTZ ($30,515). Options: 18-inch chrome

wheels ($1,000), MyLink radio with navigation ($795), paint upgrade

($325). Price as tested (including $825 destination charge): $33,460



Why buy it?

Its efficient four-cylinder engine helps it get gas mileage comparable

to mid-size sedans. It's a solid, practical, proven crossover.



Why hesitate?

The 301-horsepower V6 engine is a whole lot more fun, but it hurts the

gas mileage dramatically.

 

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