With the end of summer fast approaching, we had to squeeze in one more road trip: This time, to St. George, Maine. We’d never been to Maine before, but after hearing so many tales of its beauty, it’s great seafood and the charming locals (“If you-ah not from he-ah, you-ah from away…” is the famous phrase that describes visitors), we were up for a long weekend Down East. Among the many things we saw was the Marshall Point Lighthouse, where Tom Hanks, as “Forrest Gump” in a famous scene from the movie, ran out to the light house and back.
For the trip we borrowed the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox, the car maker’s smallest all-wheel drive crossover. With seating for five and 31 cubic feet of cargo space, we were excited to spend the week getting to know this car.
The Equinox was first introduced in 2005, and in the years since, Chevrolet has honed its mechanics, and more recently, the in-car experience. The result is on par with other crossovers, but it also has some insightful features that will surely make new owners very happy.
What We loved:
Comfy rear bucket seats with with contrast stitch leather (standard!)
Remote start and keyless entry (standard!)
Hands-free Bluetooth that easily syncs with your phone
Auto gate lift and close (standard!)
Programmable lift gate (so it won’t hit the garage ceiling)
Deep center console that will fit a medium size handbag
USB port in center console that also charges your device, and three additional 120V charge ports
Glare cover over navigation screen
Chevrolet’s MyLink with navigation, entertainment, phone apps (Pandora!) and a backup camera on a center screen
Phone apps that link you to the Equinox service info, manual, dealers, OnStar, and more
Blind spot/crash detectors
All wheel drive
Navigation gets high marks, as reviewed by Desiree Landers Miller here:
What You Need to Know:
Cargo space 31.5 CF, but expandable with sliding and/or fold down center seats
Base price $31,000 (this model $34,000)
16/23 MPG (we averaged 19 MPG on our trip, which included a lot of highway driving)
Additional upgrades (wheels, sunroof) will add to the price
12 colors available; see them here:
5 passenger seating
100,000 mile/5 year power train warranty
Sun roof (best way to avoid vitamin D supplements)
19 inch wheels (think of these as your car’s shoes–very important!)
Blind spot/crash detectors
The model we drove had the larger engine (182 HP engine is standard); for any sort of serious weight or weather, the larger engine makes more sense. Also, the bigger engine will last longer–a good investment at $1,500 for the upgrade. The Equinox handled well, easily accelerating onto the highway and keeping up with traffic, even though we were fully loaded. The benefit of a crossover isn’t lost on the Equinox: its wide stance and beefy wheels handle inclines and rough terrain just fine; you hardly feel any bumps in the road.
Stitcher (these operate through a smart phone and need a data plan.) Under the center console is an open storage area with a 120V charge port, and at the top of console is a glare guard that extends out over the screen so it is always easy to see.Chevrolet clearly put a lot of thought into the interior of this car. The center console features the MyLink system that lets you choose navigation, Sirius XM, radio, Bluetooth phone, USB media, auxiliary media, and it has apps for Pandora and
The hands free Bluetooth feature syncs easily and quickly; your phonebook will also sync, as will any usable apps; these will sync wirelessly for Android phones; iPhones must use the USB port in the console under the center armrest.
The center armrest console has been rethought, too. It is deep and can hold a small handbag or other necessities, has a USB port that will also charge your device, and along the underside of the console lid are channels for the USB cord: you can have your phone outside the console but still plugged into the USB.
One highlight is the back seat of the Equinox. The seats are bucket-seat inspired, giving backseat passengers a secure but comfortable ride, and they slide forward to add to the cargo space or back to increase leg room. When all the way back, allow nearly 40 inches of legroom. Wow.
The other great thing Chevrolet did was to include a programmable lift gate.
Programmable: you can set it to open half way, three-fourths of the way or all the way. This will keep your lift gate from getting scratched by your garage door opener arm or the garage ceiling (wish I’d had this feature on my lift gate years ago!). The lift gate is also automatic, with buttons to operate it, seemingly, everywhere.
The Equinox has many other features (luxuries?) that have become standard in new cars, including more than enough cup holders, a fold down armrest/cup holder between the two rear seats, heated front seats, premium (Pioneer) speakers, remote start, keyless entry, automatic lift gate, and more. But on the Equinox most of these features are standard, making it a very good value for the $34,000 price tag.