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Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Chevrolet Equinox 2LT, an AW Drivers Log:

EXECUTIVE EDITOR--AUTOWEEK.COM BOB GRITZINGER: Here's a car that clearly needs more power for its size, but if fuel economy becomes your most important concern, it'll certainly do. The vehicle just feels heavy overall, drives sluggishly, and the underpowered four-cylinder only adds to that impression.

It's too bad, because overall the vehicle is very nicely appointed, sharply styled and well-equipped. I like the interior layout and the quality materials, though the seat seemed a little stiff for my taste. Some of the blue-on-metallic lettering can also be hard to see in certain lighting conditions.

If you can't or don't want to jump up to the V6 and maybe even AWD, this Equinox is a nice place to be. It's just not the best driver in the class.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I'll have to echo Bob's call for more power in this 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, which is conveniently available in the upgraded V6 engine option. Chevy has been making a big deal about this direct-injection four-cylinder with an EPA highway fuel-economy rating at 32 mpg, which is impressive for sure, but it doesn't pack the punch needed to move this larger, small crossover around. And just to think, this is the front-wheel-drive version (which still weighs in at nearly 3,800 pounds!) and not a heavier all-wheel-drive example.

For quick launches or passing maneuvers which require heavy throttle, the engine does seem overly loud. However, at steady cruising with the active noise-cancellation system, I have no complaints. My only other nitpick involves the steering, which is too light and disconnected-feeling for my tastes.

Besides those two quibbles, the rest of the Equinox is quite nice, especially if you can remember the previous model, which was a middle-of-the-pack small crossover at best. The current model has nice, clean looks with Chevy's company grille up front and a much improved interior built from better materials.

As I said, this is a bigger small crossover, and that's especially clear with the massive rear-door openings to make ingress and egress for rear passengers that much easier.

Overall, Chevy has a more than respectable small crossover combatant on its hands, especially for those who need a touch more room than the class-ruling Honda CR-V or the Toyota RAV 4.

2011 Chevrolet Equinox 2LT

Base Price: $26,715

As-Tested Price: $29,305

Drivetrain: 2.4-liter I4; FWD, six-speed automatic

Output: 182 hp @ 6,700 rpm, 172 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,770 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 26/23.0 mpg

Options: Audio system and rear-seat entertainment including AM/FM/satellite with CD/DVD, radio data system, auxiliary jack, rear-seat dual-screen DVD, remote, two headsets ($1,295); leather-appointed seats ($800); power programmable liftgate ($495)

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