$7,891 - $10,589

2011 Chevrolet Equinox Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox doesn’t set the standard for performance among compact SUVs, but most reviewers say its quiet ride and good fuel economy make up for its uninspiring standard four-cylinder engine.

  • "The drive is what's important to us and here the Theta-platformed Equinox delivers like its Japanese competitors don't. Despite the Michelin low rolling resistance tires, road feel is actually not too bad, body control is excellent for the segment, pushing the vehicle further into the territory of car-like feel than its predecessor." -- Jalopnik
  • “For those who prefer frugality over fury, the standard four-cylinder engine will surprise with its strong acceleration and quiet operation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Nonetheless, one of my few complaints about the Equinox is that the four-cylinder engine had an annoying, sewing-machine whine when I pushed it hard. The ride also is a little boaty for my taste." -- BusinessWeek

Acceleration and Power

The Equinox's engines include a direct-injection Ecotech 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and an optional 3.0-liter V6 that makes 264 horsepower. The V6, which isn’t available on the base model and tacks on $1,500 to the 1LT trim, offers slightly stronger acceleration. Reviewers say the V6’s 82 horsepower jump over the base engine makes the difference in power obvious, but it still trails other V6 engines in the class like the one available with the Toyota RAV4. The Equinox’s four-cylinder engine, however, should be powerful enough for most buyers. 

Fuel economy is a high point for the Equinox. According to the EPA, the two-wheel drive four-cylinder model achieves 22/32 mpg city/highway, while the AWD four-cylinder model achieves 20/29 mpg. Fuel economy takes a significant hit with the V6 engine. The Equinox’s V6 models achieve less impressive ratings of 17/24 and 16/22 mpg for the FWD and AWD models, respectively.

The Equinox’s 3.0-liter V6 engine has FlexFuel capabilities, which means it can run on regular unleaded gasoline or E85 gasoline. Fuel economy ratings are very low with E85 gasoline. The two-wheel drive model averages 12/18 mpg city/highway, while the four-wheel drive model gets 12/17 mpg city/highway.

  • "The four-cylinder Equinox is no speed demon (neither is the V6 for that matter), but it has enough acceleration that you'll never worry about merging onto freeways or making a pass with a reasonable amount of room." -- Autoblog
  • "Chevy enjoys pointing out that the Equinox on the highway has a 600-mile range -- a fact that shouldn't be overlooked. You could fill up in Detroit and make it all the way to Des Moines, Iowa, before you need gas again." -- The Detroit News
  • "I pulled out into traffic several times, floored it, and found even the small engine's oomph adequate for most purposes." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Both the 4-cylinder and V6 engines are adequate from a stop. The 4-cylinder has enough power to get out of its own way, but it struggles in highway passing and merging situations. The V6 is stronger all around but doesn't feel as snappy as its 264-horsepower rating would suggest. Automatic-transmission response is very good when teamed with the 4-cylinder, but it's slow to downshift with the V6." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Aided by an innovative six-speed automatic transmission, the 182-horsepower four-cylinder not only moves with some authority, it delivers impressive fuel economy as well. The 264-horsepower V6, available on all except the base model, brings greater power for passing and merging, but it is not the strongest V6 in the segment. That honor still belongs to the Toyota RAV4." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Boot the four-cylinder Equinox's electronic accelerator and you'll notice that this is an engine that has to work hard to move the Equinox -- the lightest version of which comes in at 3770 pounds. Fortunately, the six-speed automatic shifts with precision and extracts every bit of thrust available." -- Popular Mechanics

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the Equinox’s ride quality surpasses its predecessor’s, but its handling capabilities trail the Honda CR-V’s, though not by much.  

  • "Equinox rides far better than its predecessor, with good bump absorption and no harshness over even larger road imperfections. There's little difference between models equipped with the 17- or 18-inch tires." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Equinox rides on a strut-type suspension up front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. The ride is comfortable, quelling bumps as well as the Honda and Toyota with the exception of some small, high-frequency oscillations that will mostly go unnoticed." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The optional V6 is E85 compatible and offers manual shift control, although we felt it could be more responsive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Power steering with the V-6 is a hydraulic system, while the I-4s get a new rack-mounted electric power-steering system. Steering feel is noteworthy for a direct-acting electric rack, better than some electronically controlled hydraulic systems." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Honda CR-V arguably has the best vehicle handling, the way it tracks around curves and precision displayed in changing lanes at high speeds. But the Equinox is pretty close behind the CR-V, topping the Toyota Rav4 and acing the Nissan Rogue." -- The Washington Post

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