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 maneuverability, excellent fuel economy, 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.
In a sea of compact crossovers, it's easy to see why the Equinox floats to the top for so many buyers. Chevrolet's compact-plus crossover brings together many attributes that make it such a stellar pick for families: tons of room, advanced technology, enhanced safety, and refinement, all wrapped in an affordable package. The Equinox makes easy work of errands, daily commuting, and the family road trip.
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.
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.