2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD Review and Road Test

2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD

We take an epic Road Trip in Chevy’s updated Equinox


It’s summertime here in Ontario, and our thoughts constantly drift back to the same question: what’s up for the weekend? The answer, at least for the recent Canada Day long weekend, comes in the form of a jaunt to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York for a ‘Guy’s Only’ weekend- a couple of car shows, a music festival and a Farmer’s Market that sells everything from art to locally made beef jerky are all on the agenda. That takes us to the next question- what would be our mode of transportation?

While we could take a bus, that would leave so many of those special road trip moments off the menu- stopping for food at the greasiest dives we can locate, checking out some of those weirdly entertaining roadside attractions in places we’ve never set foot in to the freedom of using a real bathroom when nature calls instead of the decidedly unpleasant communal receptacle you find on buses. With the decision to drive ourselves, we asked General Motors for something that would fit the bill as a reliable, comfortable and commodious steed to whisk us down the unfolding strip of tarmac that is Interstate 90. They graciously threw us the keys to a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox.

Now, you’re probably thinking “why not ask for a Suburban, or a Traverse?” While both of those would have been worthy choices for packing in bodies and associated detritus, we haven’t had an Equinox in the Carpages Garage in some time so we figured this would be an opportunity as good as any to see what’s what. It was refreshed for 2016 although not extensively so- mainly just cosmetic stuff at the front and rear ends and some revised interior bits. The Equinox GM provided was different than the other ones we’ve flogged because instead of the powerful V6 (a rarity in its segment) we’d have the 2.4 litre Ecotec 4-banger providing the motivation. Sure, we’d miss the healthy shove of the burly six when passing cars on the backroads between venues, but we looked forward to good fuel economy which would leave more cash left over for beef jerky. We weren’t disappointed- the round trip figure we arrived at was 10.2L/100km, not bad for a full car including gear. The main issue with the 4-cylinder engine is the uncouth sounds it makes while in the upper rev range, something it does often as you really have to leg it when passing and merging- its 182 horsepower feels taxed by the Equinox’s bulk. At least they didn’t saddle it with a CVT which would have made bleat in protest even more; it’s 6-speed automatic operated smoothly, if not a little to eager to settle into top gear wherever possible.

As it turns out, Chevy’s Equinox is a good choice if you find yourself heading out for a long trip as well. In LTZ trim, it’s accommodations were as good as it gets- satellite radio with a premium sound system, large sunroof and comfortable leather seats for the guys to stretch out in. Out back, the cargo hold proved adept at swallowing all of our stuff with little complaint. The seats were trimmed in leather and offered just the right combination of cushiness and support which added to our comfort. With an assortment of tunes on tap and the A/C blowing a steady stream of cool air, we felt like we could have traveled much farther than our destination and still felt fresh enough to partake in all the festivities and walk around the car show grounds with ease.

And that’s just the cabin. The Equinox’s suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride, and boy did it deliver. I-90 is perpetually under some form of roadwork construction, and over the rough soon-to-be-resurfaced pavement and the wallop of aging expansion joints the Equinox cushioned our keesters quite admirably. Similarly, the noise levels are commendably low, negating the need to raise our voices above the level of quiet conversation. The clack-clack noise of laptop keyboards proved to be the loudest sound we’d hear when cruising- a few of us felt compelled to bring our computers to catch up on work, made possible by the onboard wi-fi hotspot that comes standard with our LTZ tester.

Once off the highway, we had a chance to see how the Equinox stacked up dynamically. The CUV met our expectations, though admittedly we didn’t set the bar too high. If you’re looking for an apex carver, the Equinox, perhaps unsurprisingly, isn’t for you. Still, while the steering provides scant road feel and feedback, the trucklet goes exactly where you point it. Brake feel isn’t at all spongy, but on some long downhill stretches through the Adirondack Mountains they did feel a bit overworked. Stopping power wasn’t compromised whatsoever, although you can tell Chevrolet chose a rotor and pad setup that doesn’t have much sporting bent. The manual shift rocker switch atop the gear selector would also fall into that column, although after fiddling with it a few times we’d charitably describe it as a massively awkward afterthought. Like we said when we encountered an identical setup in the Malibu sedan- why even bother?

Behind the Silverado pickup truck, the Equinox is Chevy’s best selling vehicle, so we know they aren’t going to abandon it. Frankly, we look forward to the next generation. Perhaps when it eventually comes to market, that might be a good time to round up the fellas again for some good old fashioned road trip shenanigans. Stay tuned.

2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD– Specifications

  • Price as tested: $39,795
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger CUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Engine:  2.4-litre inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  182 @ 6,700 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 172 @ 4,900 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,813 kg (3,998 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 10.2L/100km (23 mpg)