What it is: The Equinox: Chevy’s workhorse crossover.
Base prices range from to $23,530 to $30,970.
Mileage ranges from 16 miles per gallon in the city to 32 miles per gallon the highway.
What’s worth knowing: Prior versions of this mid-priced family vehicle were a step behind competitors from Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan. Improving the reliability, interior quality and road performance of such mainstream vehicles has been a core mission of General Motors as it recovers from its 2009 bankruptcy filing and government bailout.
Who it’s for: A wide range of drivers looking for affordable versatility and the commanding perch of an SUV.
What’s good: The Equinox is a satisfying all-around crossover with a comfortable interior and smooth, stable ride. Standard features include reclining and sliding rear seats, Bluetooth, and thoughtful small add-ons like blind-spot mirrors embedded in the side-view ones. The basic four-cylinder engine averages an impressive 26 MPG, with plenty of power for most drivers. All-wheel drive is available on all models. The center console is deep enough to hold a laptop, and families will appreciate lots of other storage nooks.
What’s bad: The styling isn’t stunning, and the Equinox can strain the family budget once you add few options, easily approaching $30,000.
How it stacks up: The Equinox is competitive with the best crossovers in its class, a big win for GM. The Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV 4 have one feature the Equinox doesn’t: an optional third-row seat, which some families find handy. The Honda CR-V comes with more standard electronics and a few other features reminiscent of a minivan. The Volkswagen Tiguan is a touch more luxurious, and the new Ford Escape, coming later in 2012, is likely to be a comer.
What to do if you want one: Keep an open mind. Some buyers have lost interest in General Motors, on account of its prior disappointments and government bailout. But GM’s vehicles have been steadily improving and the Equinox is a strong value.