AW Vehicle Review - 2005 Chevrolet Equinox

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 4, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Chevrolet does what Saturn can't: Make a fine compact SUV

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    By NATALIE NEFF
    (08:30 May 03, 2004)

    We find it difficult to decide exactly what part of the Saturn Vue driving experience we dislike the most. Is it the noise (and lots of it)? The steering (completely artificial)? Or the panel fits (we don't care that plastic needs expansion room-big gaps are hideous and make wind noise)? Or slamming the doors (rattle, rattle, rattle). Maybe that's why we like the Equinox so much: Chevrolet started with the same GM global Theta platform that underpins the Vue, then produced a solid, decent compact sport/utility vehicle. Not bad for Chevy's first effort in car-based SUV design.

    Perhaps Saturn faced more cost constraints, you say. After all, the Vue starts at just $17,495, while you don't get near an Equinox for another four grand. And in today's ultra-competitive automotive landscape, a $4,000 swing in any direction can mean a huge difference in content, performance, quality, style, size... in other words, about the difference you'll find between a Vue and an Equinox.

    But that's not the whole picture. That 17k Vue comes with an anemic 143-horse four-cylinder and a five-speed manual. The extra cash it takes to step up to the Equinox puts six-cylinder power and a five-speed automatic in your garage, standard. Granted, the optional V6, auto-trannied Vue (standard or Red Line) is the most powerful pick of the Theta litter, with 250 horses and 242 lb-ft of torque on tap from its engine (borrowed from Honda), but that combo will also cost you the most, starting at $22,980. And no matter how bitchin' the Red Line is, you'll still be stuck with panel gaps the size of your fist and rattly doors.

    The Equinox not only shames its platform-mate, we think it is good enough to challenge Ford and the Asians as the best mini ute you can buy for the money.

    For one thing, the Equinox is considerably larger than the Vue, its platform stretched six inches compared to its Saturn cousin. Its 112.5-inch wheelbase makes it the longest vehicle in the segment, shading the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe by 9.4 inches and dwarfing the Toyota RAV4's 98.0-inch wheelbase. All that size benefits the Equinox in a couple of ways: The doors open as widely as any we've used, and the back seat is absolutely voluminous. Even with the front seats slid to their rearmost position, back-seat passengers will find plenty of space to sit comfortably.

    Rear-seat legroom in the Equinox exceeds that of the next roomiest rival, the CR-V. There are 3.4 more inches than in the Vue, almost four more than in the Escape, and a whopping 7.6 more inches than in the diminutive RAV4.

    Of course, the fact that the rear seats also slide-with up to eight inches of travel fore and aft-and recline aids in rear passenger comfort. But the design, which Chevy calls Multi-Flex, also allows for creative, if somewhat questionable, cargo options. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded, the Equinox provides 68.6 cubic feet of stowage space. Even the front passenger seat folds flat, either for carrying extra-long items or for using as a table (the seatback has a hard plastic surface).

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    But with the rear seats in their upright and most forward position, you'll find only 32.2 cubic feet of space in back. With that extra wheelbase and those clever seats to work with, you'd think the Equinox would one-up the Vue's cargo space by more than 1.4 cubic feet.

    This is why we say "questionable." Despite the attention to utilitarian needs and passenger comfort, Chevy engineers simply got too smart for their own good in designing the cargo hold. Large, square abutments swallow much of the volume advantage the Equinox might have had, all in order to provide a slotted shelf system that, simply put, makes life more complicated than convenient.

    The shelf normally sits flush in the floor of the cargo hold, but installing it in the center slots gives you an added level of storage space. Placed in the uppermost slots, it allows for stashing larger items below, or it makes for a sort of hard privacy cover. You have to remember to pull the shelf out before putting stuff back, which is a pain at best, and we'd much prefer a conventional roller-type cargo cover.

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    Remember, the Equinox has almost 10 more inches of wheelbase to work with than the Honda, so consider the packaging implications of this: The CR-V is larger inside than the Equinox, by almost one cubic foot. This translates into an advantage of 3.4 cubic feet of cargo space, with the rear seats folded. Even the Santa Fe, with less storage space in back with the rear seats up, suddenly finds more than nine cubic feet of extra grocery-hauling capacity when you fold down the rears. Still, Chevy claims the Equinox has the "roomiest interior in its segment."

    Issues of stowage aside, we found driving the Equinox more satisfying than the Vue, that extra wheelbase benefiting its ride by smoothing out the overall experience. Where other compact SUVs can feel jittery over imperfect road surfaces-particularly the smaller ones, like the RAV4, and the trucky ones, like the Jeep Liberty-the Equinox feels solidly planted and relatively civilized.

    The Equinox also features a steering system so refined you'd never know it's of the electric-assist variety unless someone told you. It has a very natural feel to it
    , with little dead space on center and good progressive feedback and response. For 2004 the Vue gets refinements to its formerly dreadful steering as well, but its system still doesn't match the Equinox's for refinement.

    That attention to refinement continues inside the Chevy. While the basic layout and design of the Equinox's dash and center console mimics that found in the Vue, some minor alterations make a big difference. The Equinox's center stack doesn't bulge out as far, instead flowing more smoothly into the top plane of the dash. And Chevy took the quality of the materials to a higher level. Few of the plastics adorning any of the surfaces feel overly hard or cheap, and the cloth seats appear of a decent quality.

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    You'll find a lot less racket inside the Equinox, as well, with surprisingly little wind, engine or road noise impinging on the cabin, even at highway speeds. A patch of particularly rough pavement did get the tires to knock about loudly, but interior noise never reaches the intolerable. Few mini utes can come close to claiming the same.

    Yet as much as we enjoy driving the Equinox, we certainly wouldn't mind more power. The 3.4-liter V6 turns out a peak 185 hp at 5200 rpm, but all that extra wheelbase means extra heft, too. Front-drive models start at 3660 pounds curb weight, while a similarly equipped Escape tips the scales at just 3304 pounds. The V6-powered Escape does give up 17 lb-ft, but it turns out 15 more horses than the Equinox. When last we tested an Escape, we were able to run 0 to 60 mph in less than 8.2 seconds; Chevrolet claims 8.5 seconds for the Equinox.

    There is no denying, however, that the Equinox has perhaps the best automatic transmission among its peers. It downshifts quickly and with little drama at the touch of the gas, and it holds a gear for as long as you want it to, making power accessibility more than adequate on long, uphill grades.

    With everything the Equinox has going for it, we probably most appreciate that its body is stamped from steel and not molded out of plastic. The doors don't shimmy and shake when you shut them, and all the panels look like they actually fit. It is a handsome vehicle, with an especially pleasing rear three-quarter view.

    Equinoxes should be hitting Chevy showrooms as you read this, with base prices starting at $21,560 (including $565 destination) for LS trim models, $23,275 for up-trim LTs, and with all-wheel drive available in either trim. We think Chevy's first car-based ute deserves a look, if only because it offers a different view.

    2005 CHEVROLET EQUINOX LS

    ON SALE: Now
    BASE PRICE: $21,500
    POWERTRAIN: 3.4-liter, 185-hp, 210-lb-ft V6; fwd, five-speed automatic
    CURB WEIGHT: 3660 pounds
    0 TO 60 MPH: 8.5 seconds (mfr.)

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  2. jaydub

    jaydub Every calling is great when greatly pursued.

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    fucking taillights
     
  3. g0dl355

    g0dl355 New Member

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    Suck a dick, faggot.
    needs 22s
     
  4. coronet

    coronet Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?

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    :werd:

    And that all iced interior... ugh. Silver is SO outplayed.
     
  5. iZero

    iZero Guest

    They crippled it with that 3.4.
     
  6. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    meh. anyways.... I heard you have an SJ for sale? :x:
     
  7. STRIFE

    STRIFE Guest

    I just bought one 3 weeks ago...and I can tell ya its nice. The drive is smooth and although its only 185HP the turque kicks at low end so its fast off the break. And yeah I agree silver is over rated but the interior isnt that bad. The overall space inside is bigger than the outside shows it to be. And at night when teh dash is lit the sky blue fading to a light orange almost like a sunrise w/ the red needles is tyte.

    Laser Blue Metallic
    LT
    AWD
    17'S
    LEATHER w/ Sunroof
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Another guy on here just bought one too and loves it
     
  9. STRIFE

    STRIFE Guest

    Nice :bigthumb: I only saw a few on the road so far. Maybe in bout a month enough people should have them so we can start havin meets :x:
     

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