Right-size crossover with excellent fuel economy.
Although the Equinox is not the freshest vehicle in the burgeoning mid-size-crossover segment, it nonetheless remains an excellent choice. The cabin is largely finished in textured plastics and soft leather, and the wraparound dash, upright center stack, and cool blue lighting give it a contemporary ambience that is on par with that of many luxury makes. As for exterior design, the Equinox is arguably the most handsome vehicle in its class. Its sweptback headlights and sharply raked windshield impart a dramatic profile that, along with several aerodynamic aids, helps the Equinox achieve a 0.36 drag coefficient. The base engine is a refined 182-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Although it’s no powerhouse, it provides adequate power and, with ample use of the “Eco” mode — a fuel-saving setting selected using a button on the dash that adjusts transmission shift points — it can return a class-leading 32 mpg on the highway. The Equinox can also be had with a new 301-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 that is a must-have if you plan to tow. Both engines have direct injection and variable valve timing and are mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic. Although the Equinox comes well equipped, there are many ways to upgrade its look and content, including eighteen- or nineteen-inch wheels, a Pioneer eight-speaker stereo, all-wheel drive, and a power liftgate.
Hyundai Santa Fe
new for 2013
A new 3.6-liter V-6 provides an increase of 37 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque with no detriment to fuel economy. The optional Chevrolet MyLink integrates Pandora and Stitcher internet radio and can be controlled via a Bluetooth-enabled phone using voice and touchscreen controls. MyLink with navigation is optional on 2LT and LTZ trims. Forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning are now available with either engine.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. A backup camera is optional on the LT and standard on the LTZ. Lane-departure warning is optional on the LTZ. OnStar is standard and includes Automatic Crash Response free for six months.
Handsome inside and out
Excellent fuel economy
Slightly busy center console
Some hard interior plastics
Base Price Range: $25,000–$30,500
TRIM LEVELS: LS, LT, LTZ
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.4L I-4, 182 hp, 172 lb-ft
3.6L V-6, 301 hp, 272 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 99.7 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 1500–3500 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 31.4/63.7 cu ft