I recently spent some time acquainting myself with the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD.
This is the top of a new 3 trim level structure- LS, LT and LTZ.
Although it has only received a mild refresh to increase the appeal of the model the company has added to the standard equipment offered at all levels.
For example all models now include a 7” touchscreen with revised graphics, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a rear-view camera.
While the base model will not stream music from your phone, the focus the company has placed in providing a safe vehicle is easy to see. I also have to give Chevrolet credit for allowing the consumer to select AWD at all trim levels, rather than forcing them to spend many thousands more for higher trim levels just for the extra security it provides.
The LTZ AWD model I drove featured all of the optional technology packages.(packaging may differ in the US market)
First off is the Driver Confidence package. It includes Forward collision alert, Lane departure alert, Side blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and rear park assist.
This is one package that is worth the money. The system provides the alerts visually from a small display on top of the centre of the dash board. It shows a green car when you are driving safely and a red depiction of the accident you are about to have if, for example, the system feels you are following too closely.
The next package is called the True North Edition. For you gain a sunroof over the front seats only, a Pioneer Premium 8 Speaker sound system that leaves a lot to desired when compared to premium sound system in other SUV’s, the ability to stream music via Bluetooth, GPS and the voice recognition software that controls your stereo, navigation and phone works well and surprisingly rapidly.
The system use the latest version of Mylink software which included a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. The system functions well but the smallish buttons can make it difficult to quickly find the desired control.
The only glitch I came across was the occasional lack of response from the touchscreen; I would have to select the wanted function 2 or 3 times to get it to respond
The Interior Protection package which delivers rubber floor mats and a cargo mat was also included. I liked how the cargo mat prevented objects from sliding about, however I would personally go aftermarket and save a few hundred dollars.
The interior is typical GM, some nice materials mixed with some cheaper surfaces that leave a good overall impression. The heated leather front seats are quite comfy and the 8-way adjustability means they should fit anyone.
The rear seats are also nice with enough legroom for adults and their ability to tilt and slide provides even more comfort and convenience.
The interior redesign included some extra storage space such as the new centre stack shelf. A vast compartment below the front centre armrest and the multi-tiered door panels give you numerous storage options.
The Equinox is a very family friendly unit with lots storage space and easily cleaned surfaces.
Behind the rear seats is an ample 31.4 cu ft of cargo space, but with the rear seats folded this expands to an impressive 63.7 cu ft. While hauling drywall may be a stretch you could certainly fit several bicycles in there.
The top trim LTZ I drove did not use the direct injected 301 horsepower 3.6L V-6 powerhouse.
Sadly it was hampered by the standard 2.4L Ecotec 4 cylinder. Developing just 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft, the base engine felt overwhelmed by the task of hauling the nearly 4,000lb
All that weight and a hard woking engine lead to less than expected fuel economy.
The official numbers are 22 mpg city and 32 highway; I managed only 22 mpg of mostly highway driving.
I suspect the V-6 is the better option, as the higher torque developed will eliminate the need for full throttle acceleration. The 6 also has the added privilege of being one of the segments most powerful; never a bad thing to brag about to the neighbour.
The handling is exactly average for an SUV. On the road it feels remarkably sedan like.
The ride is comfortable but poised, just don’t get too frisky. I will note the tester was fitted with winter tires which will have had some impact on my impressions. That said the suspension is most certainly focused on delivering a sedentary, smooth and motion sickness free trip for your family.
The exterior has only received some minor alterations that serve to bring the SUV in line with the rest of the Chevrolet products. The most noticeable change is the new brand wide dual Port grille.
Other upgrades like the new front and rear lighting and new wheel designs have enhanced the already handsome SUV. By not changing the structure the Equinox also benefits from the same high safety scores as the previous model year. According to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) the Equinox scored 4 and 5 star ratings in all tests, even the difficult frontal-overlap test.
The Equinox carries a base MSRP of $22,600 and gives consumers exactly what they were looking for: space, comfort and safety.