2016 Chevrolet Equinox Quick Review
Critic's Notebook takeaway: The Equinox works hard to undo GM's hard work.
Chevrolet is quite clearly capable of making really good vehicles, that are well-suited to their task, that are also full of character. Like the Colorado diesel, the SS Sedan, the Silverado, and the Camaro. Even the Impala has reemerged as a car you'd choose to get into. But somewhere deep in GM's post-bailout genes there must also be a streak of modesty to rival an Amish dressmaker, because for every Corvette GS there's a Trax, a Sonic, and a Spark balance the ledger.
The Equinox goes a long way toward undoing all the goodwill. It takes the inescapable corporate front end and stretches it over the body of a middle-aged pastry aficionado, the chrome lower grille surround on my Mosaic Black giving it a particularly pugnacious aspect. Pugnacious, as in, like a pug dog.
On a 375-mile round-trip to Greenwich, Connecticut—where the Tesla P90D is the vehicle of choice—for that town's Concours, I took advantage of the vehicle's one good trick, stretching mileage out to 30 mpg while still maintaining the speeds for which the greater New York area is known. The six-speed automatic was quick with the shifts, and there's really no need for more engine.
But I didn't enjoy it. The steering is twitchy and demands attention without giving much road feel in return. And despite a reasonable 112.5-inch wheelbase, it had a rudely choppy ride. As a bonus, my seatbelt buckle was installed on the wrong side of the belt. Job one, GM.
How many five-seat crossovers are currently on the market? Ten? Fifteen? I suppose you need to have one (or two, in Chevy's) case in the lineup, to wrestle sales from brand-loyal customers who might start thinking that a Ford Escape or Nissan Rogue, both starting at $3,000 less, have become compelling arguments. But if you're not a diehard Bowtie fan and/or you have a sense of decency, the Equinox is just another anonyblob to bring you down.
2016 Chevrolet Equinox LT AWD
POWERTRAIN: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder; 182 hp, 172 lb-ft torque; AWD; electronically-controlled Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission
MPG: 20 city / 29 highway
DRIVING FEEL: Almost as boring as a self-driving car, with none of the cool technology