Last week I drove the GMC Terrain five passenger XUV, so imagine my delight to find out I’d be driving the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox this week. “It’s the same thing as the GMC Terrain, but with a bowtie on the grill,” I protested.
It’s not really, which is why GM wants us automotive reviewer types to drive vehicles like this back-to-back. Sure, both the GMC Terrain and the Chevy Equinox I drove seat five, have four cylinder Ecotec motors and carry a sticker price south of $30k, but the pair are more fraternal twins than identical twins. First, there’s content: the Chevy comes in $1,000 less than last week’s GMC, despite the fact that it’s equipped with All Wheel Drive (AWD). The Chevy’s interior is far more spartan, with a serious amount of monochromatic plastic up front. Sure, the layout and instruments are the same between the two, but the Chevy feels like an entry level crossover where the GMC felt more upscale. It’s not a difference in quality; it’s a difference in the perception of quality.
The Chevy lacked the other amenities of the GMC (rear seat DVD system, moonroof), but those are available options if your budget allows. Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is the exterior styling: the Terrain is angular and meant to resemble GMC’s full sized trucks. The Equinox has cleaner lines and will appeal to a broader audience of buyers. It’s a more attractive vehicle, so on looks alone the Chevy wins, hands down.
The Equinox tester had just over 7,000 miles on the clock, so the motor was fully broken in. Despite having AWD, I still managed an impressive 21.6 mpg in city driving (the FWD Terrain averaged 22.6 in city only driving). GM deserves recognition for their build quality of late: despite the mileage on the Equinox I drove, there wasn’t a squeak or rattle to be heard. That’s not something you could say about many domestic vehicles a few years back.
I didn’t have a chance to test the AWD in seriously bad weather (black ice covered by fresh powder is hard to find in Florida in April), but it made a noticeable difference on wet pavement. The FWD Terrain was quick to light the tires from a standing start on wet pavement; the AWD Equinox never chirped, even when the throttle was stomped. When pushed, the Equinox felt a bit more stable and a little less prone to understeer. If you live where it snows, or even where the temps get low enough for regular icing, I’d suggest the AWD version over the FWD version.
One option on the Equinox that I found annoying was the automatic liftgate, exclusive to GM vehicles in this segment. I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would pay $495.00 for a motor driven liftgate. It’s painfully slow to raise or close, and difficult to close manually. If you’re a dog owner, keeping your pet in place while the liftgate raises or lowers can be an exercise in frustration. Your opinion may differ, particularly if you have three kids plus their trappings to shuffle around. I simply chose to turn the feature off.
In the end, I much preferred the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox’s exterior styling, but favored the 2010 GMC Terrain’s interior. If I had to pick between the two, the visual appeal is enough to point me towards the Equinox. The sticker price on my tester was $28,435, but I’d drop the automatic liftgate option and check the power sunroof box instead. That would put me out the door at $28,735, which seems like a fair price for a vehicle with the Equinox’s versatility and fuel economy.