$9,188 - $12,221

2012 Chevrolet Equinox Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox was new.


Performance: 7.5

The 2012 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 boring standard four-cylinder and optional V6 engines.

  • "A solid structure and pleasing ride impress. The steering is light, and although the engine noise is subdued, there is more road noise here than we'd like. Not much fun, but this is a pretty dull segment." -- Car and Driver
  • "Chevrolet has done a good job of isolating most sources of ruckus. Wind noise is virtually non-existent. The 4-cylinder engine sounds a bit raspy under full-throttle acceleration; the V6 is always smooth and refined. Both engines are silent while cruising. All Equinox models have low-rolling-resistance tires designed to increase fuel economy, but they contribute to audible thrum on coarse surfaces." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Ride quality is another plus, with the Equinox delivering a stable, well-planted ride indicative of a bigger SUV." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Equinox's engines include a standard 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and an optional 3.0-liter V6 that makes 264 horsepower. Both models come with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6, which isn’t available in the base model, offers slightly stronger acceleration. Reviewers like that a V6 is available, but say 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 and has good fuel economy ratings. 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. The Equinox’s V6 models achieve less impressive ratings of 17/24 and 16/23 mpg for the FWD and AWD models, respectively.

  • "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
  • "Deciding which of the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox's two engines is right for you depends on your priorities. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder delivers decent acceleration while returning excellent fuel economy (although, as noted above, we've found it difficult to match the EPA's estimates). The 3.0-liter V6 delivers significantly better performance in everyday driving, while also upping the towing capacity from 1,500 to 3,500 pounds." -- Edmunds
  • "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
  • "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

Handling and Braking

The Chevrolet Equinox doesn’t have inspiring handling, but reviewers say its tight turning radius is good for city driving, and its brakes are strong. For sharper handling, consider the Mazda CX-7 or Volkswagen Tiguan.

  • “Generally competent and car-like. Body lean in turns is well controlled. Equinox 4-cylinder models have electric power steering that's designed to increase fuel economy, but it lacks road feel. The V6's hydraulic power steering doesn't feel much better. A surprisingly large turning radius can complicate close-quarters maneuvering. Braking is smooth and progressive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Otherwise, driving the Equinox is an unremarkable experience, with so-so handling and a slightly vague feel to the steering. But realistically we suspect this won't be a significant negative for most buyers. More importantly, the Equinox's quiet cabin and comfortable ride quality make it a great choice for long road trips." -- Edmunds
  • "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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