2016 chevrolet equinox
Starting at
$27,160
Engine
Ecotec 2.4L

Power
182 hp
EPA - est City/Hwy
20/29
Seats
5


2016 Chevrolet Equinox The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review
Bengt Halvorson

Bengt Halvorson

Deputy Editor

DISLIKES
  • Outward visibility isn’t great
  • Lackluster premium audio option
  • Has the interior purged its cheap bits yet?

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox has one of the most spacious, quiet, and versatile interiors among smaller crossovers, and it loads on the value.

The Chevrolet Equinox is the brand's second-best selling vehicle in North America and has been holding steady in a sweet spot for crossover-vehicle popularity. Only the Silverado full-size pickups are better sellers for Chevy.

For 2016, the Chevy Equinox not much is updated that would disrupt its appeal. Rather, it gets a light refresh that brightens and sharpens this crossover’s exterior look, warms up the cabin look and feel, and makes the feature set a little more straightforward and safety-conscious.

Compact utility vehicles in general have been all the rage, with lots of families trading in sedans in favor of them. Yet the Equinox has managed to woo busy parents even more effectively, with good maneuverability, excellent fuel efficiency, and an interior that’s just a little bit larger and more configurable than what you get in most other compact crossovers.

Chevrolet vehicles have been given a new dual-port grille design over the past couple of years, and now the Equinox steps in with the rest of the lineup; accompanying the new grille is a more sculpted lower front fascia design, as well as new reflector-style headlamps on all models, with LED running lamps on the LT and LTZ. The top LTZ gets new fog lamps, while V-6 models get chrome exhaust outlets; additionally new wheels, revised lower fascias, and more brightwork all around serve to update the look. Otherwise the Equinox continues with essentially the same handsome sheet metal and profile it’s had since 2010—which has aged quite well, considering. As for the interior, the Equinox gets an equivalent brightening, with new chrome shift buttons, new graphics for the instrument panel, a redesigned center stack with a new storage shelf. Fabrics have been redesigned on the L and LS models while there’s a new Saddle Up interior color.

What’s under the hood doesn’t change this year, and that’s fine. The 2.4-liter direct-injection inline-4, making 182 hp, is one of the most fuel-efficient engines in its class—and plenty quick for most family needs, while it renews its 32-mpg EPA highway rating in front-wheel-drive guise. Both that engine or the available 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 come paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Equinox is offered in a streamlined lineup of L, LS, LT, and LTZ models; the L will likely be fleet-minded and is front-wheel-drive only, while the rest of the lineup offers available all-wheel drive. The V-6 is offered only on the LT and LTZ, and we tend to think that while it’s smooth and strong, it isn’t quick enough to justify the significant increase in thirst; it does however allow a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.

Size the Equinox up briefly, and you won't be surprised why vehicles like it have become the family sedans of today. We’d venture to say that among compact or mid-size crossovers, the Equinox will remain one of the better picks for those who don’t need third-row seating. Whether purposed for carpool duty, weekend family getaways, or commuting and errands, it's fully up for such versatile use—with an affordable price, a spacious interior, and probably, refinement that exceeds expectations.

The Chevrolet Equinox is just a little bit larger than most compact crossovers, which translates to some extra wiggle room inside when you need to balance cargo and passengers. In that respect, the Equinox feels designed for the ins and outs of family use, with a rear bench that can slide fore and aft, offering up to 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the seat still up, or nearly 64 cubic feet with the seatbacks flipped down. Front seating is quite good and the driving position is excellent and car-like, while back seats have enough space for two adults to sprawl out into, with decent legroom, and the seatbacks are adjustable for rake. You also get plenty of cubbies for smaller items, as well as a deep center console and two wells, a retractable cargo cover, and a stretchy net all good for grocery bags between the two deep cargo wells in back. Chevrolet is now also offering tablet holders that attach to the rear of the front seats.

The Equinox has earned a good reputation for safety, with four- and five-star federal ratings plus top "Good" ratings from the IIHS in all categories, including the tough small overlap frontal test for this year. The SUV earned the IIHS' Top Safety Pick designation for 2016. Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox, and a rearview camera system is standard for 2016. Blind-spot monitors and cross-traffic alerts are now available on LT and LTZ models, and both forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are offered as part of a safety package. As we’ve noted in the past, the one safety inadequacy pertains to outward visibility, which can be challenging due to the thick rear pillars.

The feature set of the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox has changed a bit, as 1LT and 2LT models are dropped in favor of a streamlined model lineup of five trims. Pricing and value have been strong points for the Equinox in the past, and Chevrolet is expanding the seven-inch Color Touch radio, with Bluetooth connectivity, to affordable L and LS models. Enhanced MyLink connectivity on upscale models adds enhanced connectivity for apps, including integrated Pandora and Stitcher. Last year, OnStar added 4G LTE connectivity and the capability to create a wi-fi hotspot.

Styling
8.0

The Equinox gets a light refresh inside and out; it already was a handsome crossover SUV.

The minor styling update bestowed upon the 2016 Equinox brings the model out of the anonymous crowd slightly, with a more modern front-end look and a better tie to the latest Chevy designs.

Chevrolet vehicles have been given a new dual-port grille design over the past couple of years, and now the Equinox steps in with the rest of the lineup; accompanying the new grille is a more sculpted lower front fascia design, as well as new reflector-style headlamps on all models, with LED running lamps on the LT and LTZ. The top LTZ gets new fog lamps, while V-6 models get chrome exhaust outlets; additionally new wheels, revised lower fascias, and more brightwork all around serve to update the look. The taillights adopt a two-square look like most other Chevy models, and there's new chrome trim on the tail for LTZ editions. Otherwise the Equinox continues with essentially the same handsome sheet metal and profile it’s had since 2010—which has aged quite well, considering.

Taking the whole design in from the outside, the Equinox impresses as a sort of scaled-down version of the big Chevrolet Traverse three-row crossover. If anything, the Equinox is just a little chunkier, with perhaps just a little more hints from Chevy's trucks filtering into the more upright flanks. That said, the Equinox design looks more car than truck, ultimately, and it still fits in well alongside the brand's sedans, with nicely done proportions and sharp, careful detailing.

As for the interior, the 2016 Equinox gets an equivalent brightening, with new chrome shift buttons, new graphics for the instrument panel, and a redesigned center stack with a new storage shelf. Fabrics have been upgraded on the L and LS models for a better feeling of quality and there’s also a new Saddle Up interior color.

The Equinox gets a light refresh inside and out; it already was a handsome crossover SUV.

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Performance
7.0

Don't expect sportscar responsiveness; the Equinox is frugal in four-cylinder form, perky with the V-6.

The Equinox's long-awaited update for the 2016 model year—it's been on sale in this form since 2010—surprisingly didn't make any adjustments to the mechanicals. Chevy's small crossover soldiers on with acceptable dynamics and mid-pack power and efficiency from either the base 4-cylinder or optional V-6.

The base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4 is one of the more advanced engines in its class, and with direct injection, variable valve timing, and a 6-speed automatic, you can get quite a bit of real-world performance out of it—more than the 0-60 mph time of around nine seconds might suggest. Passing power is good enough even when you have some passengers; and our only issue with this engine is that its direct-injection-related clattering sounds are more prominent than in most other modern fours.

And if they need some added grunt for full loads and mountain grades, the 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth and very strong. It makes 301 hp; and while it's considerably thirstier than the four, you might consider it a worthwhile upgrade. It's one of the only 6-cylinder crossovers left in this segment, as many others have switched to turbocharged 4-cylinders and even naturally aspirated fours alone. The engine choice, along with a choice between front- and all-wheel drive with either powertrain, should give most shoppers what they want for their family needs.

With a rather low first gear, for quick takeoffs, plus taller cogs for the upper gears and highway fuel efficiency, the 6-speed automatic covers the bases—although it's not as smooth as in other vehicles in this class. With either engine, shifts can be rough, and the transmission can feel hesitant on hills or on-off throttle situations. Manual shifts aren't made though steering wheel paddle shifters or a separate gate, rather through little plus or minus toggle buttons that for 2016 have been moved to the top of the shift knob.

Don't expect sportscar responsiveness; the Equinox is frugal in four-cylinder form, perky with the V-6.

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Comfort & Quality
8.0

The Equinox has great interior space, and a sliding second-row seat that flexes its cargo and passenger room.

The Chevrolet Equinox is a nice-sized, versatile crossover option for families that don't need a third row of seats. It's more manageable in tight parking lots than the larger, three-row Chevy Traverse crossover, and it's more spacious than most compact crossovers on the market today.

Front seating and the driving position in the Equinox are excellent. We like the upright, supportive setup no matter what the trim, while the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather on upscale LTZ models has an added luxury look and feel. In back, there's adult-size space, including good head room, a seat back that's adjustable for rake, and decent leg room. The rear seat can also be slid fore and aft over eight inches of travel, allowing it to maximize either people- or stuff-carrying space, which is especially nice when the little ones in back don't need that extra leg room.

Cabin and materials and trims are, with a few exceptions, far from bargain-basement—although a few odd cheap-feeling details here and there have let it down in previous versions. The 2016 model's interior refresh improves or removes some of those surfaces, which is a welcome change. The 2016 base models—L and LS—receive improved seating fabric, something we found lacking previously. And the remodel has streamlined the look of the interior, jettisoning some of the distracting trim pieces while adding a handy shelf in the center stack.

The level of cabin refinement and quiet in the Equinox is perhaps closer to Buick or Cadillac standards, so you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to a clever noise cancellation system that actively helps eliminate coarse sounds and even mild vibrations, 4-cylinder models are nearly as quiet and refined as V-6 models once you're underway (you do hear the clatter of the four a bit more at idle, however). Wind noise is well shut out, with triple door seals and glass with integral sound damping.

Ride quality is good too, and there's plenty of stow space for larger and smaller items, which altogether makes the Equinox a good family vehicle for highway trips and vacations. A retractable cargo cover, stretchy net, and two deep cargo wells all help keep items in place and out of sight, and there's a deep center console for electronics and purses. The only downside, we think, is that the cargo floor is just a little too high—or at least higher than we might expect.

The Equinox has great interior space, and a sliding second-row seat that flexes its cargo and passenger room.

JD Power Reliability Ratings

2016 Chevrolet Equinox Models
Power Circle Ratings

Overall Quality

5/5

5 Overall Quality - Mechanical
4 Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
3.5 Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
5 Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
3.5 Overall Quality - Design
3.5 Powertrain Quality - Design
3 Body & Interior Quality - Design
3.5 Features & Accessories Quality - Design



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Safety
8.0

Crash-test scores have been good, not perfect, with the latest Equinox.

We are happy to report that Chevy has made a rearview camera standard on all trim levels for 2016, which somewhat alleviates our previous complaints about the poor rearward visibility. The 2016 models also get newly optional active-safety items that bring the Equinox in line with its competitors.

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS thanks to its "Good" ratings on all crashes, including the notoriously difficult small overlap front crash. Federal safety officials have given the Equinox similar—but not stellar—marks as well: the Equinox managed a four-star overall rating, including four stars on frontal- and rollover-crash protection.

Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox. So are GM's OnStar emergency and concierge services. A rearview camera system has been added to L and LS models, meaning it is present across the board, which helps with the low-speed situations. Lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems are available more widely on inline-4 and V-6 models, and standard in the LTZ, and that system earned a "Basic" front crash prevention rating from the IIHS for 2015. The 2016 refresh brings with it available blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert systems for LT and LTZ models.

Unfortunately these systems don't completely make up for one Equinox inadequacy: outward visibility. Depending on your height and driving position, you might find the rather thick rear pillar to be in the way when changing lanes. The large blind-spot mirrors do help a bit, but we recommend you pay close attention to this on the test drive.

Crash-test scores have been good, not perfect, with the latest Equinox.

NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Chevrolet Equinox Models

Overall Rating

4/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Chevrolet Equinox Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Not Tested
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Not Tested


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Features
8.0

The Equinox is well-equipped; this year, it adds Bluetooth and touchscreen radios to base models.

The Equinox continues to be a good value among crossovers of its size. The features list is long, including an intuitive infotainment system, plenty of convenience features, and even a few active safety technologies, too. For 2016, most models see an upgrade to their standard equipment, and there are also some new options.

The lineup has been streamlined for 2016, with four models available: L, LS, LT, and LTZ. All models now come with a touchscreen infotainment interface; L and LS get a 7.0-inch color touchscreen with Bluetooth phone pairing, while the LT and LTZ continue with Chevy's MyLink head unit, which adds smartphone-streaming and other features. MyLink includes voice activation for easier connectivity for hands-free calling or media access, as well as integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls, plus the allowance for a connected navigation system.

Standard equipment even on base Equinox L models includes air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, the aforementioned touch-screen head unit, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

The LS adds the option for all-wheel drive and some other minor convenience items. A rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system, leather seating, heated seats, steering-wheel audio/phone controls, a sunroof, 17-inch wheels, and remote start are options on the LS.

LT models add standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, keyless ignition, an anti-theft system, one year of OnStar service free, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls. They also add MyLink for infotainment.

Top-of-the-line LTZ models get perforated-leather upholstery, memory seat settings, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and both forward collision warning and lane departure warning—both useful features that might help avoid an accident. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert systems are available on the LT and LTZ models.

New for the 2015 model year, the Chevrolet Equinox uses an OnStar system with a 4G LTE data connection. It can be configured to establish an in-car wi-fi network with that connection, and Chevy includes a three-month/3 GB trial with each new vehicle.

The Equinox is well-equipped; this year, it adds Bluetooth and touchscreen radios to base models.

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Fuel Economy
7.0

Equinox SUVs with a 4-cylinder get excellent EPA ratings; even the V-6 has decent fuel economy ratings.

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox carried over mechanically unchanged from 2015 so ratings haven't changed year-over-year.

The Equinox's ratings by the EPA of 22 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined for the base 4-cylinder model with front-wheel drive make it one of the better non-hybrid crossovers in terms of fuel economy. Stepping up to all-wheel drive, mileage drops to 20/29/23 mpg, which still good for a comfortably sized crossover. All 4-cylinder models come with an "Eco" button that activates a mode with more conservative air-conditioning operation, earlier torque-converter lockup, and different shift points.

The V-6 model of the Chevrolet Equinox remains thirsty, but it has ample torque to move you around town. We recommend the 4-cylinder for all but those who need to tow with their Equinox occasionally. EPA ratings for the 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 are decent but unimpressive, for those who care about mileage: 16/23/18 mpg with all-wheel drive and 17/24/20 mpg with front-wheel drive.

Equinox SUVs with a 4-cylinder get excellent EPA ratings; even the V-6 has decent fuel economy ratings.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Auto-6

18/26

Combined

5.6 gals/100 miles

15/22

City


22/32

Highway


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