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2005 Chevrolet Equinox - Done Right by Martha Hindes

2005 Chevy Equinox New SUV Test Drive

Thank you, Chevrolet, for getting it right.

2005 Chevrolet EquinoxWith a few minor exceptions, we think you nailed it with the new Chevy Equinox for '05 that now, after a year or so of anticipation, is finally out on the road.

When ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine editors first slid behind the controls of this smallish, five-passenger, car-based sport utility vehicle our initial reaction was "nice." Good looking inside and out. A lot of intuitive feel for how it was laid out. An easy step in to our out of the vehicle, no matter where one was sitting.

Then other things started to make a lot of sense. When the kids' lanky basketball buddies want a ride home from practice, they won't feel scrunched up in the rear seat. When we go overboard buying flats of those gorgeous, fragile impatiens at the local garden shop, we really will have a place to set them down during the gentle drive home without the danger of having them mashed by a tippy bag of groceries.

It's things such as that, we'll detail a bit later, that make us go "aah" instead of "naah" when we put our vehicles to use. We could call it all a part of what makes Equinox a thinking woman's sport utility, set in a handsome, edgy package with definite hints of the crisply-defined, authoritative GM family DNA most evident in Chevy's relative, Cadillac.

2005 Chevrolet Equinox

After logging in a test in the all-wheel-drive LT version, ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine's Publisher, Courtney Caldwell, had high praise for the Equinox, which she cited as being, "well laid out for the needs of women." To which she added, "I like the exterior a lot. I thought it was very cool and edgy. It seems to possess a similar elegance, at least in style, to the baby Lexus SUV."

Little surprises alone in the Equinox should win kudos for this long-awaited crossover. With creature comforts and lifestyle amenities taking center stage, the Equinox is a vehicle designed to pamper as well as protect, and with its longest-in-class wheelbase (at 112.5 inches), handle easily as well as hustle.

Chevy has a definite advantage by introducing this more populist sport utility at a time "smaller," and "less gas hungry" should get attention from American consumers numbed by the stratospheric cost of filling up just to get from here to there.

While at press time we hadn't tested, long-term, Chevy's mileage claim, we logged in a respectable number of miles without needing a petrol boost every few gas stations. On both the LT front-wheel-drive and on-demand all-wheel-drive versions of our test vehicles, powered by the only engine Equinox offers (a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter, V-6 with five-speed automatic), Chevy claims average fuel economy of 19 miles a gallon for city driving and 25 miles a gallon while out on the road. Those stats are far more respectable than the low teens that are the best mileage numbers some larger sport utilities can muster.

As any errant male can probably tell you, women who often are the human tote-bags for entire families not just themselves, tend to carry lots of stuff. There's grocery stuff, and handbag stuff, and gloves, scarves, umbrellas stuff. There's a need for holders for coffee, soda or a bottle of imported Evian or domestic spring water. There's a need for DVDs, video games and even swat room for shushing down the second-row terrors who can turn a calm ride into temper tantrum territory when young, worn-out bodies are past their bedtime.

2005 Chevrolet Equinox

With Equinox, Chevy has gone to great lengths to accommodate such needs. Among little surprises are small or larger storage areas that seem to pop up in unexpected places. The passageway space between front bucket seats, for example, is designed to securely stow a heavy-duty handbag or briefcase out of the way, while still allowing armrest comfort. There are sensible cup holders and a couple of accessible 12-volt outlets.

A winning feature among early Equinox owners is the vehicle's unique seating system. The front passenger seat folds totally flat to allow rest stop desk space for the business traveler with laptop computer, or perhaps a crossword puzzle dabbler during a boring, river crossing car ferry ride. Chevy has dubbed its movable rear seat, that slides backwards or forwards a total of eight inches over a flat rear floor, "Multi-Flex." (Basketball families or oversized fans can relate to the voluminous rear legroom that results.)

2005 Chevrolet Equinox Cargo Room

In addition to an expected cargo net, Chevy has added a special cargo-area transport feature: Side notches hold a vehicle-wide tray to be positioned at different levels for an added layer of storage above the cargo floor (such as flats of colorful impatiens plants riding safely a level above a load of grocery bags). The tray, normally part of the cargo floor, is reversible and has a pull-down support beam to accommodate heavier objects. Second row seats fold forward to expand cargo room.

For a price sensitive sport utility (at just under $26,000 as tested) our LT test version included premium interiors, with a breathtaking list of standard features. There's the expected keyless remote, outside power mirrors, deep tinted glass, body-colored bumper, luggage rails and door handles (for a smooth, classy appearance), fog lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The LT options on the front-drive version (adding just over $2,500 to the tally) include 17-inch aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror that posts the temperature outside, and six-way power seats. It also includes GM's OnStar security communications system and XM satellite radio.

On the ride side, Equinox handles as smoothly as many autos, without a sense of unstable top-heaviness sometimes associated with sport utility models. Based on mostly city driving (like Equinox owners would be expected to do), it was responsive, easy to park and had enough "oomph" to merge in and out of traffic with ease.

Safety comes in a dual front seat airbag system, child LATCH seat anchors and side guard door beams. As with all GM vehicles, Equinox sports daytime running lights (a safety mandate cast in stone by GM engineers). And, thankfully, the Equinox lets you turn off the interior lights when the doors are open if you prefer. That's a definite safety feature for women driving alone at night who might not want to be bathed in light if traveling in a less-than optimum area.

It's only fair to mention an oddity Chevy might consider looking at in the future, when it gets ready to "morph" to a next generation version, perhaps. On the "wish list" side: Moving the floor-mounted power point forward a bit so a cell phone power cord doesn't fight for space with a large handbag or package.

Equinox comes in four different trim flavors, from the low $20K to a shade above $29K range, in front- or all-wheel-drive models. Its name, by the way, refers to the bridge between seasons, when the sun crosses the equator and all days and nights are perfectly balanced, the same attribute Chevy designers give their namesake. Chevy wants you to know it's pronounced "EEEquinox," as in "equal," or "EEEEEKKK!" (if you happen to see a mouse).

2005 Chevrolet Equinox

We can think of a few other "E" words for the vehicle, as in easy to handle, excellent details designed into it, ecstasy for knowing it will serve our needs in comfort and style. For all that, we'll give the Equinox a solid "A" for anticipation that owning it will be a joy.


For more information click on: Chevy Equinox
For the Chevrolet SUV 2005 Model Guide : Click Here