- Backseat has plenty of space and slides/reclines for added comfort
- Optional V6 engine provides quick acceleration
- Interior stays quiet at speed
- Rides smoothly on rough roads
- Four-cylinder version feels sluggish and real-world mpg falls short of EPA ratings
- Less cargo space than some rivals
- Quality of interior materials leaves something to be desired
- Bluetooth audio isn't offered on L or LS
After a few notable updates last year, the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox soldiers on with minimal changes, but it still figures to get plenty of consideration from SUV shoppers. When you think about it, that's pretty impressive; after all, the current Equinox debuted back in 2010, which is a long time ago in car years. Many rival crossovers have received full redesigns since then, so it's a credit to Chevrolet that the Equinox is still catching shoppers' eyes. But objectively speaking, does the aging Equinox have what it takes to compete with the best?
The base four-cylinder engine is one thing that gives us pause. Although its EPA fuel economy estimates are fairly impressive, we haven't been able to reproduce those numbers in real-world driving. Moreover, this engine lags behind leading four-cylinder alternatives in terms of both acceleration and refinement. On the bright side, the optional 301-horsepower V6 is the strongest engine offered in this segment, so if you're willing to pay more for spirited performance, the Equinox certainly delivers.
Other drawbacks include mediocre interior materials and the limited availability of Bluetooth audio, which puts this Chevy behind the times. But the Equinox's ride should be sufficiently smooth and quiet to please any shopper in this class, and the capacious backseat slides and reclines to accommodate different physiques. If you're getting the sense that the 2017 Equinox is a mixed bag, you're onto something. There are some positives here, but we advise weighing your priorities and thinking about whether the Equinox gives you enough of what you're looking for.
Perennial standouts among affordable small crossovers include the well-rounded Honda CR-V and the sporty yet fuel-efficient Mazda CX-5. The Ford Escape gets a number of upgrades for 2017 in a bid to keep it fresh, while the Toyota RAV4 was similarly updated last year. We're also fans of the redesigned Kia Sportage, which rivals the Equinox's rear-seat hospitality and adds extra style and fun. But if you're searching for a roomy two-row crossover at a reasonable price, the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox may still merit a closer look.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, the Equinox's LTZ trim level is renamed Premier, while the LT trim receives two new options packages, the Midnight package (including black wheels, paint, exterior accents and interior leather trim) and the Sport package (including the same wheels, accents and leather but substituting white paint).
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover SUV that's offered in four trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier.
Standard equipment on the entry-level L includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a partial power driver seat with power height and lumbar adjustments, a 60/40-split second-row seat that slides and reclines, cruise control, a trip computer and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. In terms of onboard technology, the Equinox L comes standard with Bluetooth phone (but not audio) connectivity, OnStar communications (with an in-car 4G WiFi hotspot), a 7-inch touchscreen interface, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB port.
The Equinox LS is very similar but has a few extra features, most notably available all-wheel drive, satellite radio, a compass and an available towing package that's likewise optional on LT and Premier. It also comes with a standard Exterior Appearance package that includes different 17-inch wheels, body-color bumpers with gray trim and body-color door handles.
The LT adds body-color mirror housings, heated mirrors, LED daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, roof rack side rails and an upgraded touchscreen infotainment system that includes Chevy's MyLink interface, Bluetooth audio connectivity, voice controls and smartphone integration for Internet radio apps (Pandora and Stitcher).
At the top of the line, there's the Premier, which further adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, unique exterior trim with chrome accents, remote start, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, driver memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic climate control. Premier models equipped with the V6 engine also get firmer suspension tuning.
The LT's optional Convenience package adds a number of the Premier's standard features (remote start, automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-way power driver seat, heated seats). Ordering it also unlocks the separate option of a power liftgate. The LT Midnight package adds black paint, various black exterior trim pieces, 18-inch black-painted wheels, black leather upholstery and driver memory settings. The LT Sport package mirrors the Midnight package except that it substitutes white exterior paint.
Optional on both the LT and Premier are a sunroof, a Driver Confidence package (adds rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert) and a Technology package (adds a navigation system and an eight-speaker Pioneer audio system).
Optional on the Premier only is a Driver Confidence II package (adds lane-departure warning and forward collision alert) and an Enhanced Convenience package (adds the power liftgate and an eight-way power front passenger seat).
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2017 Equinox's dashboard is sleek and stylish overall. As with most current Chevy models, the dash contours flow smoothly into the door panels, creating a wraparound feel that's distinctive in this segment. The quality of the materials is unremarkable, however, with plenty of hard plastics that have an industrial texture and shine. Moreover, the small buttons on the center stack can be hard to differentiate at a glance, though the Equinox's controls are generally easy to learn.
The standard 7-inch touchscreen interface features customizable menus similar to those on modern smartphones, and it's relatively user-friendly. The available MyLink interface incorporates Bluetooth streaming audio capability and compatibility with popular smartphone apps. There are a few weak spots, though, such as the touchscreen's occasionally slow processing times and missed responses to touch inputs. The lack of Bluetooth audio on the L and LS trims is also lamentable, as Bluetooth audio has become an expected feature in this price range.
Seating comfort is good all around, with particular credit due to the luxuriously roomy backseat with its slide-and-recline functionality. The downside to this copious passenger space is that the Equinox offers less cargo space than many competitors, with 31.5 cubic feet of storage behind the 60/40-split rear seats and a maximum of 63.7 cubes with those seatbacks folded down. That's still an ample cargo bay, but it trails rivals like the CR-V, which can accommodate more than 70 cubes.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Chevy Equinox include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard are a rearview camera and GM's OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency assistance button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle assistance. Optional on the LT and Premier are rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, while the Premier can also be outfitted with forward collision alert and a lane departure warning system.
In government crash tests, the Equinox received an overall score of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Equinox earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal offset, side impact and roof strength tests. Its head and seat restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Chevrolet Equinox's standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (182 hp, 172 pound-feet of torque). A 3.6-liter V6 (301 hp, 272 lb-ft) is optional on LT and Premier. Both engines come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional except on the base L trim.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Equinox with the four-cylinder engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is slower than average for this segment. Complete EPA estimates were not available as of this writing, but expect 23 mpg combined (20/28) with all-wheel drive. While these numbers are respectable, we've had a hard time reproducing them in the real world, especially on the highway.
The 3.6-liter V6 comes with dual exhaust tips and much more muscle. In testing of the essentially identical GMC Terrain with the V6 and all-wheel drive, we recorded a swift 0-60 time of 7.0 seconds. There's a price at the pump, though. For last year's 2016 Equinox, the EPA said to expect 20 mpg combined (17/24) with FWD and 18 mpg combined (16/23) with AWD.
Properly equipped, four-cylinder models will tow up to 1,500 pounds, while the V6 towing capacity climbs to a handy 3,500 pounds.
The driving character of the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox will depend in significant part on which engine you select. The base four-cylinder may have similar output ratings to the base engines in other compact crossovers, but it doesn't feel as potent on the road. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, which is neither reassuring nor fuel-efficient. If you're looking for a more authoritative feel, the V6 is definitely the way to go. With 301 horses on tap, it's one of the most capable engines in any crossover in this price range.
The Equinox's handling abilities are nothing special. The steering feels numb and somewhat imprecise, while the suspension is tuned to favor comfort over athleticism. The upside is a smooth ride that's complemented by the quietness of the cabin at speed. There's not much "fun-to-drive" here, but the 2017 Equinox's daily-driver credentials are pretty solid.
The 2017 Chevrolet Equinox is a solid bet if you want a reasonably sized crossover SUV with plenty of backseat space. You can also upgrade to a powerful V6 engine, which is an unusual treat in this class. Let's see if this veteran player still has what it takes.