2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ: Review notes

Spend a little bit of time in the driver’s seat of the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ, and you can see why General Motors has such a short days supply of these. The interior is simple, straight-forward and handsome. The design is more functional than luxurious, but this is a $33,000 ute.

The ride is comfortable and surprisingly quiet. The only noise creeping into the cabin was courtesy of tires on the pavement. I would like a bit more side bolster from the seats, but again, put into perspective, the seat will fit the majority of buyers just fine.

Power from the 3.0-liter V6 is good, although in the slippery snow this morning having AWD would have been nice. Five seconds out of my driveway and the front tires were spinning and traction control was working feverishly. But there was little drama during the rest of the commute to the office.

Overall, this is a handsome little ute/crossover that is comfortable and relatively affordable.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: I’m a little surprised that $33,000 doesn’t buy all-wheel-drive in an Equinox, but that quibble aside, this is a well-equipped and well-done small utility vehicle. The V6 pulls hard, in part because the tranny holds gears surprisingly deep into the rev range. Combined with a solid chassis, the overall effect is one of a far sportier vehicle than you might expect in a front-drive ute. At the same time, posting 24 mpg in mostly around-town driving is quite good for a V6. If I have any complaint with the vehicle, it’s that the brake pedal feels soft and takes some getting used to.

This Equinox, as equipped, comes with a number of goodies, from the big, color seven-inch navigation screen to auto climate control and seat heaters to the aforementioned uplevel V6. There’s ample room in all seats and for cargo, with lots of flexibility built in with the 60/40 folding back seat.

I played around with the forward collision warning/lane-departure system and determined that on the middle collision-warning distance setting it provides some guidance without being a nanny. On the shortest setting, I think it’d be too late for most drivers to react in time, and on the longest setting it seems as if the warning is steadily on, so you tend to disregard it after a while. I’m not sure of the value of this, except to drivers who spend a lot of their time distracted by texting or other pursuits instead of driving. If you tend to stay alert and looking at the obstacles ahead of your vehicle, you could skip this and save $295. I never detected any lane-departure warning, so I must have never done anything to make it mad.

Given all of the pluses, and the fact that few buyers in America really need an all-wheel-drive vehicle, I like this package as offered. It still seems pricey, but it is properly equipped for the meat of the market.

NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The 2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ is an excellent vehicle for the chilly seasons in the upper Midwest. It’s capable, decent-sized and well equipped. It drives nicely and in a manner that mainstream consumers would appreciate.

The cabin looks and feels premium, for the most part, with comfortable seats. The V6 engine is decent, though the four-cylinder units I’ve sampled in this ute have always been up to the task as well. The chassis is well sorted and comfortable, and for small ute it’s well proportioned. Acceleration is respectable, and I was able to defeat slower traffic when jockeying for space on a service drive. I like the Equinox. It’s a strong competitor in this segment.

2012 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ

Base Price: $29,950

As-Tested Price: $33,540

Drivetrain: 3.0-liter V6; FWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 264 hp @ 6,950 rpm, 222 lb-ft @ 5,100 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,777 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 20/24.2 mpg

Options: 3.0-liter DOHC V6 engine ($1,500); 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels ($1,000); color touch navigation radio with seven-inch screen, CD/MP3 player, AUX input, USB port ($795); forward collision alert, lane-departure warning ($295)


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