2005 Equinox New Car Test Drive
With the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox, General Motors finally has a compact SUV to challenge the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It's bigger inside and out than most of the SUVs in this class, and that's deliberate. Like the Honda, Toyota and Ford products, the Equinox is car-based, using the new GM Theta front-wheel-drive architecture and adapting it for all-wheel-drive versions. This same architecture is under the Saturn Vue SUV as well.
The Equinox's dimensions blur the line between compact and midsize SUVs. It is 13.9 inches longer than the arch-competitor and market leader Ford Escape, and only three inches shorter than a TrailBlazer, and that extra room will make all the difference on some families' buying decisions. It rides on a wheelbase that is 9.4 inches longer than the Escape's, yielding a generally smoother ride. When the rear bench and front passenger seat are folded flat, there's room inside this truck for eight-foot-long loads. The rear seatback is split 60/40 for added cargo/people hauling flexibility.
Only two Equinox models are available, including the basic LS ($20,995 FWD, $22,970 AWD) and the more luxurious and better-appointed LT ($22,710 FWD, $24,335 AWD) versions. Unlike the competition that offers both four-cylinder and V6 engines, the only engine available in Equinox is the 3.4-liter V6, an ordinary overhead-valve powerplant that has been continuously refined since it was introduced 25 years ago in the old GM X-cars as a 2.8-liter.
Both LS and LT come with the usual basic equipment and cloth interiors, with leather seating and steering wheel optional on the LT only. The LS offers the optional 1SB package ($535), with cruise, tinted glass, luggage rack crossbars and floor mats, while the LT offers the optional 1SD package ($550) with cruise control, tinted glass, roof rack crossbars, floor mats, a six-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment, a multi-functional inside rearview mirror with compass and outside thermometer and a leather-covered steering wheel. The 1SE package ($3475) for the LT adds to that OnStar, leather seats, power sunroof, premium sound system with seven speakers, the six-CD changer, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, and redundant radio controls on the wheel. Aside from the packages, the equipment is offered as 18 different freestanding options including two colors of metallic paint, with most options available on either the LS or the LT. Building one to your specs won't be difficult.