Chevrolet took an unexpected approach to designing the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox. When the all-new model debuted for the 2010 model year, it had slightly less cargo capacity than the 2009 version. This was a bit of a surprise, because cargo space often is an important factor for those shopping for a compact SUV. We’ll point out right here that the Equinox’s rivals offer a few feet more of storage space. The advantages for the Equinox come in other areas. Many other areas.
Despite being somewhat shorter than the first-generation models, the second-gen Equinox has one of the roomiest cabins in the segment for people. In terms of powertrains, the Equinox is among the class leaders for both EPA ratings and towing capability. Chevy also was one of the first brands to bring mobile Wi-Fi to the segment.
Those benefits and more led to high demand for the second-generation Equinox when it was new. During its eight-year production run, which lasted through the 2017 model year, sales topped 1.7 million. That’s a lot of vehicles to keep track of if you’re shopping for a pre-owned Equinox. We’ve got a lot of information below to make things easier.
The Equinox Basics
The second-generation Equinox wears an expressive exterior design and still has a relatively large footprint. With a length of 187.8 inches, it’s noticeably longer than the 2010 Ford Escape, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. Chevy engineers then leverage that size to provide rear-seat passengers with nearly 40 inches of legroom. None of those three competitors can match that mark. The smallest, the Escape, supplies just 35.6 inches of back-seat legroom. The seating for the Equinox is impressively flexible as well. The front seats can slide forward and backward by 10 inches, and the rear seats have almost 8 inches of fore-aft travel.
With the back seats pushed all the way forward, the Equinox offers 31.4 cubic feet of rear storage. The total cargo capacity for the vehicle, with both rear seats folded, is 63.7 cubic feet. As mentioned, that’s on the low side for the segment. The Equinox trails its Ford, Honda and Toyota competition here, although it has 5.7 cubic feet on the 2010 Nissan Rogue. You can fold the Equinox’s back seats independently, too, along a 60/40 split. Another storage bonus comes from the small hidden bin incorporated into the top of the center stack.
The Equinox Powertrains
While the 2009 Chevy Equinox only had a V6, and the 2010 Honda CR-V only has a four-cylinder engine, the 2010 Equinox is available with both. Its standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. That unit, which was new for 2010, is paired with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The Equinox earns fuel economy grades of 22/32 mpg city/highway in that configuration. Again, the comparable Ford, Honda and Toyota rivals find themselves at a disadvantage. This time, they’re all 4 mpg behind the Equinox for highway fuel economy. All-wheel drive is optional with the four-cylinder engine.
The uplevel engine for the 2010-2012 Equinox is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 264 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque. For the 2013 model year, that was replaced by 3.6-liter V6 with a major increase in output. The newer engine delivers 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard with both V6 engines. Both also enable a competitive tow rating of 3,500 pounds and are available with all-wheel drive. The only difference at the gas pumps is that the Equinox loses a single mpg in highway driving with the more powerful engine.
The Equinox Features (through the Years)
The Equinox began offering a rearview camera for the 2010 model year, when it was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Available for all but the entry model, the camera includes a display in the rearview mirror for vehicles without a navigation system. With navigation, you can see the display in the system’s 7-inch touchscreen. Additional infotainment upgrades for the 2010 Equinox include a USB port, a 40-gigabyte hard drive for music storage and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with independent headrest-mounted screens. For modern-day communications, a Bluetooth hands-free calling system remains optional.
The Equinox also checks in with a new-for-2010 power tailgate. This adds a function that lets you program the tailgate’s opening height. As a result, you can set it to avoid bumping into low ceilings in garages and similar locations.
The 2011 Equinox gets minor but welcome updates. For instance, there are more models available with heated front seats. The 2010 Equinox reserved that luxury cue for trim levels with leather upholstery. Beginning with 2011, you can find less expensive cloth seats with heating for the front row. It’s a similar story with the vehicle’s steering-wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls. These also get expanded availability to lower-priced trim levels.
If you’re looking for higher levels of safety technology in a pre-owned SUV, the 2012 Chevy Equinox gains lane departure warning and forward collision warning as options. Standard blind-spot mirrors boost visibility for all trim levels. The 2012 model year further marks the launch of Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system. Standard above the entry model, it combines a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and apps for Pandora and Stitcher online audio services.
The next few years brought just a few changes to the Equinox, but they were pretty significant. We already discussed the new V6 for the 2013 model. You can pair that engine with an “FE2” suspension package for sportier handling. Other fresh options for the 2013 Equinox include an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, rear parking sensors and an updated rear-seat entertainment system. After staying the course for 2014, the 2015 Equinox became the first compact SUV from the Bowtie brand with a standard mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. (You have to pay for service, as with a smartphone, but the hardware is there.)
Chevy refreshed the Equinox for 2016. Outside, you’ll notice new aluminum-alloy wheels, as well as redesigned front and rear fascias for all trim levels. LED daytime running lights accent the new look in the uplevel models. The interior shows off a revised center stack that now counts the MyLink infotainment system as standard equipment. As a reminder, this means all Equinox models from this year forward have a rearview camera, at least a 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth. The higher trims can extend the vehicle’s driver-assistance coverage with side blind-zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
In the last year before the third-generation Equinox reached dealerships, Chevrolet capped off the long run of the second generation with two special editions. The Midnight and Sport Editions are finished in Mosaic Black and Summit White, respectively. To complement those paint jobs, they share details such as black grilles, black Chevy “Bowtie” badges, black mirror caps, black roof-rack crossbars and Jet Black seats appointed in perforated leather.