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Motoring: Chevrolet Equinox has clever features

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 8th, 2010

One of the most hotly contested products in the automotive market place is small SUVs.

Not only are they just as stylish as full-size SUVs, they are quite practical too, plus some of these are very fuel-efficient.

So they offer most of the highlights of having a truck-like vehicle, while offering none of the drawbacks.

One of the most popular vehicles in this segment was the first generation Chevrolet Equinox.

It offered most of the things people look for in a vehicle of its type; however it wasn't the leader when it came to fit and finish.

The new Equinox is much better. For a start, the styling is impressive. It doesn't look like a cheapo SUV, it actually looks like GM spent time designing it.

It also seems GM took its time working on the interior too. The fit and finish is much better and the quality of materials looks and feels better. My test vehicle had a new type of fabric for the seats that looked much better than cloth and more comfortable than leather, which is neat.

I also found this new Equinox to be spacious, as I found out on a recent trip to the airport. It also has a very clever feature for the tailgate, which allows you to set the maximum height the tailgate will swing up. The idea behind this is, if you are parked in a low garage, the tailgate won't smash up against the ceiling. This will hopefully prevent any unnecessary damage to the vehicle. This idea is so simple yet useful, I think all such vehicles should come fitted with this feature.

Chevrolet Equinox
The Equinox also comes with another clever feature called the “Eco” mode. Press a small button in front of the gear shifter and this programs the vehicle to run in a more efficient setting. Sure it won't be the fastest vehicle on the road, but at least you won't be visiting the gas station as often.

The mileage rating will also differ between the base front-wheel drive versions to all-wheel versions. My front-wheel drive model averaged 11.1-litres/100km, which is decent for a vehicle of this size, while not exactly as good as I was hoping. After all, it only has a 2.4- litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 182hp.

So it's not rocket fast or hybrid efficient, but it does have a very smooth, six-speed automatic gearbox. So there are some positives to go with its negatives.

Its ride and handling is neither of those. It rides well but it's not what I'd call excellent, and while it handles well, it doesn't handle exceptionally well, like a Subaru Outback does on both counts.

The Equinox is priced well enough. Prices start at $25,995. So it is more affordable than a Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, or that aforementioned Subaru Outback.
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