Tuesday, July 21, 2009

GM/Chevy on the right track with new Equinox SUV

So, GM is not making cars people want to drive, right?

Well that's changing. The General's current model lineup looks like the best in its history, and the new Chevrolet mini-SUV, the Equinox, fits right in.

I got to drive the redesigned 2010 model this week in not quite fully decked out trim. The test model was black with black leather interior. Walking up to it, I thought it was an Acura MDX, and driving it, I noticed people couldn't stop staring (an impression a friend told me he had while driving Ford's new 2010 Taurus).

Inside, the truck had all the gadgets to make it feel right at home in this blog: Bluetooth, GM's excellent OnStar system, full iPod intergration (why can't Honda and Toyota do this on all cars; stinks to buy the tech-happy new Accord and not have it control the iPod), a solid stereo system with a built-in hard drive, XM radio; basically, the works.

Inside, what really impressed me was the build quality. There was an odd piece of plastic in a storage bin at the top of the dash, but everywhere else the car felt pretty well put together, at least as good as most foreign brands I drive. Rear seat room is good. The truck is a tad narrow, so you lose some width in the trunk, but of course the rear seats fold down enough to put just about anything behind you.

But what I was curious about was how she'd drive.

The previous Equinox drove too soft. If you just nudged the steering wheel in any direction, the car made a much stronger response to move that way.

Basically, the power steering was overdone. This one is much better, though, it could still be tuned a little better. The car still drives a little soft and it's a touch bouncy, but what SUV do you know that's bigger than a RAV-4 and a CRV that can get 32 miles per gallon on the highway and 22 in the city? GM doesn't stand for Gas Monger any more.

GM's new 2.4 liter inline four cylinder fooled me until I really tried to push it. It was much more quiet than you'd expect -- especially if you have driven previous GM 4 bangers -- and delivered power smoothly. You could pass and get up to speed reasonably well. If you like, you can equip your 'Nox with a 6-cylinder engine, give up about 5 MPG, but gain some horsepower. The 4 banger is 182; the 6 is 264.

Shocked as I am to say this, I'd skip the 6 cylinder and use the extra $1,500 on some options, like a sunroof. Any truck this nice needs one.


Anonymous said...

Good review, but an SUV is not a truck, it is a station wagon.

staionwagonutilityvehicle said...

i never realized that the "s" in "suv" stood for station wagon...hahaha!!!

Anonymous said...

It's a re-badged Saturn VUE

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