Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Chevrolet Equinox Is Put to Preschooler and LA Freeway Test
What a difference a new car makes!
Chevrolet was kind enough to let me test-drive its 2010 Equinox for a week, and I have to say, I'm smitten.
Besides that awesome new car smell that isn't lost even on preschoolers -- "I want to sniff the car," CC would say every time we exited the vehicle -- and the approving glances and double-takes I got from fellow drivers, this midsize SUV is packed with bells and whistles and definitely easy on the eyes.
The only question I was left with -- in my quest to replace my 8-year-old Chevy coupe -- was: Should I move to the bigger car or stick with what I know?
The week in question just happened to coincide with the LA Film Festival, which had a downtown HQ. That meant spending lots of time on the 10, traveling from the West side of Los Angeles down to L.A. Live on an almost daily basis.
Having the Equinox on a 6-lane freeway (and that's just one way!) was helpful in many ways. First, I felt tucked in to the car, meaning the driver's side seat was comfortable and protective in all the right places. Also, I had close access to the armrest, steering wheel controls, as well as the OnStar Navigation system (a button on the rear view mirror), the stereo system and the 7-inch touch-screen display (photo below left, courtesy of Chevrolet).
And don't forget the Bluetooth hands-free setup for my cell phone. I could answer or decline calls by pushing an image on the screen. The voice on the other end chatted through the stereo speakers, so the reception sounded even better than the phone itself.
Not only that, but I also had a great view of the road. No more tinted-window vans blocking my sight line!
My favorite feature, however, popped up before I even put my foot on the gas. When I moved the gear shift into reverse, an image from the rear vision camera appeared on the display screen, showing me what was behind me. So cool! I had the ultimate mom gift of eyes in the back of my head.
And speaking of mom gifts, looking at CC sitting safely in her car seat with lots of room around her to spare, plus the sheer heft of the Equinox supporting our ride, really put my mind at ease on the road. That and the standard child security door locks. A definite score for the SUV.
The space in the back, as well as the option to fold down the back seat (not a possibility for us, since we need the car seat), was a real plus. CC liked to use this as a little play space once the car was parked, and I could fit bags and bags of groceries to boot.
If there was anything that gave me pause about the Cardinal Red Metallic 2010 Equinox AWD 2LT ($27,370 standard/$33,410 as driven) was its sheer size. Although it's smaller than your typical SUV (its key competitors are the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4 and the Ford Escape), I still felt a little guilty driving alone, as if I needed more cargo to justify not driving a smaller sedan.
The fuel economy estimates for the Equinox are 17 mpg/24 mpg for city and highway driving, respectively. In my one week, I drove approximately 300 miles and spent $51.95 ($3.019/gallon) filling up the 18 gallon tank.
That seems pretty reasonable for a larger vehicle -- I was expecting to pay a lot more.
While I'm still considering my options, I'd definitely recommend the Equinox as a luxurious yet practical car for parents with kids and those with lots of gear.
CC, in fact, wants it back, and I don't blame her.
"Where's the red car, Mommy?" she still asks me as we make our way to my journeyman auto.
That's when I heave an audible sigh and tell her, "Mommy had to give it back."