2006 Equinox New Car Test Drive
The Chevy Equinox is Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It's bigger than each of them (including the all-new 2006 RAV4). Equinox is big enough that its dimensions blur the line between compact and midsize sport utilities. It's nearly 14 inches longer than the Ford Escape and just three inches shorter than a Chevy TrailBlazer.
As a result, the Equinox is roomier than other compact SUVs, and has features that enhance its versatility. The back seats are mounted on tracks and slide fore and aft. Slide forward and you have more cargo space. Slide the seats rearward for more rear legroom. The rear seatbacks also recline for additional comfort. Fold the rear seats down, then fold down the front passenger seatback down, and you can load eight-foot objects inside. However, Equinox only seats five because it does not offer a hopelessly cramped third row as the new RAV4 does.
It long wheelbase gives the Equinox good stability and ride quality. Like the CR-V, RAV4, and Escape, Equinox is based on a passenger car design.
Equinox was launched as a 2005 model so there aren't any major changes for 2006. However, the 2006 models do come standard with anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and other features, which wasn't the case last year. Also, interior changes have been made for 2006 to improve the appearance and function of the cabin. Our biggest complaints with the 2005 models had to do with interior materials.
The 2006 Chevy Equinox comes in two trim levels, the basic LS and the better-appointed LT. Both are available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Equinox comes standard with a 3.4-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission. The 2006 Equinox LS packs more standard equipment than last year, and the LT level has been split into two sub-levels called LT1 and LT2.
Equinox LS FWD ($21,755) and AWD ($23,505) come with air conditioning; cruise control; cloth upholstery; a fold-flat front passenger seat; a Multi-Flex 60/40 split rear bench seat that folds, slides, and reclines; six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio; and power windows, mirrors, and locks with remote keyless entry. Bumpers are body-color for 2006. LS FWD comes standard with traction control.
LT1 FWD ($23,050) and AWD ($24,675) add fog lights, carpeted floor mats, deep tinted glass, and 16-inch aluminum wheels. Mirrors, door handles, and roof-rack side rails are body-color rather than charcoal or black. Sound system options expand considerably at the LT1 level, and include a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 unit with RDS ($135); a similar unit incorporating a six-CD changer ($395); and digital audio with XM Satellite Radio ($325). Also available: a tilt-and-slide sunroof ($595) and luggage rack cross-bars ($95).
LT2 FWD ($24,180) and AWD ($25,805) add an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with an eight-point compass and outside temperature display, leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. In addition to the LT1 options, LT2 buyers can choose leather seating (at no cost), heated seats ($250) with cloth or leather, and a Pioneer seven-speaker sound system with amplifier and subwoofer ($295).
Options for all models include a towing package ($350), engine-block heater ($35), and OnStar.
Safety features include anti-lock brakes, now standard on all models. Side-impact and head-curtain airbags are optional ($395) offering torso protection and head protection in the event of a side impact or rollover. OnStar is an excellent safety feature as its operators will dispatch rescue crews to the scene should your airbags deploy and you fail to respond to their calls.