By Glen Woodcock, Autonet, The Ottawa Sun
In the compact crossover field you don’t have to compromise on quality to indulge your Canadian patriotism. In this popular class, there are four excellent vehicles made in Ontario.
Along with its twin, the GMC Terrain, the refreshed 2016 Chevrolet Equinox is one of the leaders in this field, for a lot of reasons. And it’s made only at GM of Canada’s busy assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.
Equinox is virtually identical in size to another Canadian-made crossover, the Ford Edge, with the same 4,774-mm length and a wheelbase that’s longer by 25 mm. And although only 203 mm longer than the Canadian-made Toyota RAV4, Equinox feels and drives like a much bigger vehicle. Maybe that’s because of the Equinox’s generous cabin space, but it also could be its firm stance on the road. Handling has long been an Equinox strong point and, when coupled with a controlled ride, it makes for a vehicle that generates a great feeling of security on the road – especially when equipped with optional all-wheel drive.
It’s not hard to see why Canadians are trading in their family sedans for crossovers. These car-based vehicles may not have the same style, but they offer superior people and cargo-hauling capacity. That’s especially true of Chevrolet’s compact offering, now in its 12th year.
Equinox LS starts at a modest $22,995, with front-wheel drive, a 2.4L 182 horsepower, four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic. Our test vehicle, however, is the upscale LTZ version that also is equipped with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive and a host of extras that shoot its MSRP up to an as-tested $37,995.
Some of those extras are standard at this trim level, such as OnStar with automatic crash response, a backup camera, leather seating, and heated front seats. For $1,250 the optional Driver Confidence package is a bargain and provides useful features including forward collision alert, blind spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and rear park assist.
However, I wouldn’t order our test vehicle’s $2,325 True North package because two of the three components I would never use. Since I quit smoking 28 years ago I seldom open a sunroof and the further away I can stay from Chevrolet MyLink the better. We just don’t get along any more than I do with Cadillac’s CUE system of voice commands.
The LTZ’s leather-appointed cabin is a pleasant space with eight-way power and heated front seats and lots of spaces for the small stuff. The sliding rear seats are especially good for a compact crossover, with up to 1,215 mm of legroom. Because GM hasn’t crammed in a third row of seating, luggage space behind the upright rear seats is 949 litres.
And for those who can’t survive a minute without being connected to their social media networks, Equinox offers universal tablet holders for those riding in the outboard rear seats.
Over basically the same roads, travelling the same distances, combined fuel economy in Equinox is 9.8 L/100 km compared to the recently tested Subaru Forester’s 8.8 L/100 km. And without the availability of an Eco drive mode it would be even higher – 10.5 L/100 km on the highway vs 7.7.
The weather has been awful during my time in the Equinox, with strong winds and lots of rain. But at the wheel I have felt as safe as in my favourite chair at home.
If you need trailering capability Equinox can be ordered with a 3.6L V6 and has the ability to tow up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) when properly equipped.