2013 Chevrolet Equinox Review and Prices

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2012

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2013 Chevrolet Equinox Buying Advice

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is the best crossover for you if you want the updated version of America’s most popular midsize SUV.

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox gets a welcome boost in power with a larger available V-6 – at no sacrifice in fuel economy. A power front passenger seat is offered for the first time. So is a dual-screen DVD entertainment system to compliment what’s already one of the most comfortable back seats in the class. The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox’s dimensions, basic shape and underpinnings are unchanged. This five-passenger wagon debuted in its current form for model-year 2010. It quickly became a strong seller for its handsome looks, good fuel economy, roominess, and value.

Should you buy a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox or wait for the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox? Wait for the 2014 Equinox if you’re interested in GM’s eAssist mild-hybrid powertrain. Using an electric motor to assist a four-cylinder gas engine, eAssist should improve fuel economy – if not performance – compared with today’s already-frugal Equinox four-cylinder. What the 2014 Equinox likely won’t get is a styling update – not with the next fully redesigned version due for model-year 2015. That makes the 2013 Equinox a good choice if you’re happy with its powertrains and features and don’t want to own a crossover that’ll look dated not long after you buy it.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Changes back to top

Styling: Somewhat unexpectedly, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox’s styling isn’t changed. With a slew of fresher-looking rivals coming to market, this Chevy probably would have benefited from a makeover, even just a new grille insert and maybe different taillamp lenses. Optimists hoped for a reshaped hood and fenders and front and rear fascias. They expected a more aggressive look overall.

But this four-door wagon keeps its 2010-vintage profile, chiseled body, and gently sloping roofline. Sizewise, Equinox remains roughly midpack for five-passenger midsize crossovers, though it has a longer wheelbase than rivals such as the Ford Edge and Subaru Outback.

Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and key to a vehicle’s interior roominess. Indeed, the 2013 Equinox again provides a spacious passenger compartment. It seats four adults very comfortably; a fifth can squeeze into the rear seat for shorter trips. The back bench seat slides fore or aft over a nearly 8-inch track to customize passenger or cargo space. Of course, rear legroom shrinks with the back seat moved forward and cargo volume is truncated with the seat in its rearmost position.
The rear seatbacks fold flat on a 60/40-split basis to help expand carrying space. Overall, 2013 Equinox cargo volume is on par with five-seaters of its size: around 32 cubic feet behind the rear seat and almost 64 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.  

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox remains mechanically related to the more self-consciously macho-looking GMC Terrain. They share underskin architecture and most components. And both qualify as crossover SUVs because they ride on a car-like unibody structure. Compared to the traditional truck-based SUVs that ruled America’s driveways in the 1990s early 2000s, lighter unibody crossovers have a lower step-in height, better fuel economy, and more amenable ride and handling.

Chevy’s had good luck with a four-level Equinox model lineup and repeats it for 2013. It begins with the base LS trim, and ascends through the volume-selling 1LT and the well-equipped 2LT versions, to the leather-upholstered and fully equipped LTZ.

Mechanical: The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox continues with two engine choices, both available with front- or all-wheel drive.

The base engine is again a 2.4-literfour-cylinder rated at 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the muscle that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps you going.)

The four-cylinder is peppy enough to suit most buyers and we recommended it over the previously available V-6. That 3.0-liter made an impressive-on-paper 264 horsepower but a disappointing-in-the-real-world 222 pound-feet of torque.

For model-year 2013 Chevy wisely replaces the 3.0-liter with GM’s 3.6-liter V-6, an engine used in a variety of cars and SUVs, including the Cadillac XTS flagship, the Chevy Camaro, and the 2013 GMC Terrain.

In the 2013 Equinox, it’s an option for the 1LT, 2LT, and LTZ models, where it’s rated at 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. That’s a horsepower boost of 14 percent and a torque increase of 22 percent over the 3.0-liter six. Both are evident in more immediate response and widen the excitement gap between a four- and six-cylinder Equinox.

Both Equinox engines have direct fuel-injection to help maximize output while maintaining reasonable fuel economy. The 3.0-liter V-6 did, too.

In anything but gentle cruising, however, the 3.6-liter as installed in the Equinox feels coarse and loud. It’s better isolated in the other vehicles in which it’s used, and invites you to dig deeper into the throttle to access all its power.   

With either engine, the 2013 Equinox employs a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Its floor-mounted lever includes a separate shift mode for drivers who like manual-type gear selection. And the transmission used with the four-cylinder includes a selectable “Eco” mode that alters the shift schedule to help fuel economy. The Eco mode essentially taps the higher gears sooner than normal and unfortunately tends to make the vehicle a bit slower in the process.

Any 2013 Chevrolet Equinox trim level is available with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive (AWD). Front-drive concentrates the mass of the engine and transmission in the vehicle’s nose, over the tires that also propel it. That helps maximize interior packaging and enhances wet-surface traction.

Like virtually every crossover, Equinox isn’t designed for serious off-road use. But its AWD improves traction in snowy road conditions or on uphill gravel driveways or similar loose surfaces. In typical fashion, the 2013 Equinox system automatically shuffles power between the front and the rear wheels as necessary to counteract wheel slippage and maintain grip.  

Standard active safety systems again include stability control (now mandated by federal regulation) to help prevent the Equinox from fishtailing out of control in extreme or emergency handling situations, traction control to help launch it on slippery surfaces, and antilock brakes to help prevent skidding in sudden stops.

Equinox continues with one of the best ride-handling blends in its competitive set. It’s firm but composed on bumpy roads, cruises confidently, and changes direction with good grip and modest body lean. For 2013, models with the 3.6-liter V-6 get Chevy’s handling-tuned FE2 suspension package; it’s evident mostly in marginally sharper steering response and doesn’t unduly penalize ride comfort.

Four-cylinder Equinoxes and 1LT and 2LT models with the V-6 come with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard equipment. Eighteen-inch alloys are available on the LT and LTZ models, with 19s optionally exclusive to the LTZ. V-6 LTZs get a choice of chrome-clad 18s or 19s.

Features: The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox expands its features to include several new convenience items. These include the rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens in the front seatbacks and dual wireless headphones.

Standard on the LTZ and optional on the 2LT are option packages that include Equinox’s first universal remote opener for garage doors and security gates and the power front passenger seat. Also standard on the LTZ and optional on the 2LT is a power liftgate programmable to two opening heights.

Leather upholstery is standard on the LTZ and optional on the 2LT model. So is a navigation system paired with Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. Chevy’s answer to Ford’s Sync, MyLink affords hands-free operation of Bluetooth-linked mobile phones and the audio system. Users can select songs and playlists stored on their mobile devices via voice commands and can stream music from their smartphones to be played through the audio system via the Pandora Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio services.

Every 2013 Equinox comes with GM’s useful OnStar assistance system and a free six-month subscription to services that include turn-by-turn directions delivered through the audio system, automatic crash response, remote door unlock, and stolen-vehicle slowdown.

Bluetooth hands-free connectivity is standard on every 2013 Equinox. USB iPod linking and a review camera are standard on all but the LS model. Remote engine start is standard on the LTZ and available on both LT models.

Safety features include General Motors’ Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning crash avoidance system. It’s standard on the Equinox LTZ and 2LT models and unavailable on the LS and 1LT.  

Less complex and more affordable than similar technology from other automakers, the GM system mounts a high-resolution camera on the windshield ahead of the rearview mirror. It scans the road ahead for vehicles and lane markers and gives audible and visual warnings if it determines the Equinox is following a vehicle too closely or is inadvertently crossing lane markers. If it senses an imminent frontal collision, the system pre-charges the brakes to immediately engage at full force.

Returning as standard across the 2013 Equinox line are power locks, mirrors, and windows. Air conditioning, a CD audio system with XM satellite radio, a digital compass, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are other standard features. (Chevy dealers also offer a device that turns the Equinox into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot for connecting portable devices to the Internet.)

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is $24,580-$33,090. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Chevrolet’s fee for the 2013 Equinox is $825.)

The 2013 range represents a modest increase over 2012 prices and keeps Equinox very competitive against a range of rivals. For example, starting prices for four- and six-cylinder versions of the Chevy are below those of such crossovers as the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Nissan Murano, and Ford Edge.  

Base price for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LS is $24,580 front-wheel drive and $26,330 with AWD.

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT starts at $26,225 with front-wheel drive and $27,975 with AWD. The 2013 Equinox 2LT is priced from $28,095 with front-drive and from $29,845 with AWD.

The top-of-the-line 2013 Equinox LTZ starts at $31,340 with front-drive and $33,090 with AWD.

Adding the 3.6-liter V-6 to the 2013 Equinox 1LT, 2LT or LTZ costs $1,500, but requires the $395 Pioneer Audio Package upgrade, bringing the total to $1,895. That’s some $400 over the cost over the 2012 3.0-liter V-6.

Among notable options, the navigation with Chevrolet MyLink costs $795, the dual DVD system $1,295, and a power moonroof $900. Leather is an $800 option for the 2LT model.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox are unchanged – despite addition of the more powerful V-6.

With the four-cylinder engine, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is rated 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel-drive and 20/29/23 mpg with AWD.

These ratings keep the four-cylinder 2013 Equinox among the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid five-passenger midsize crossover SUVs sold in the U.S.

With the 3.6-liter V-6, the 2013 Equinox rates 176/24/20 with front drive and 16/23/19 mpg with AWD. This mileage is in line with the 3.6-liter Equinox’s competitive set, though most rivals have less horsepower.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Release Date back to top

The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox went on sale in late summer 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox back to top

This second-generation Equinox continues to sell at a brisk pace and Chevy probably sees no rush to invest in a completely new model sooner than the marketplace would dictate. For that matter, it didn’t over-invest in its model-year 2013 “midcycle makeover.” Chevy evidently believes the styling – by now quite familiar -- has the staying power to see Equinox through to the next full redesign, almost certain to arrive during 2014 as a 2015 model.

Chevy could always throw the competition a curve and facelift Equinox for model-year 2014. But sources say the big model-year 2014 change will be availability of GM’s fuel-saving eAssist system.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Competition back to top

Ford Edge: Consider Ford’s midsize five-passenger crossover if you aim slightly upscale of the Equinox. Edge is a good match for the Chevy for interior space, though its racier styling dictates a more closed-in cabin feel. A 285-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 is standard and rates 19/27/22 mpg with front-drive and 18/25/21 with AWD. Edge Sport models borrow their 305-horswpower 3.7-liter V-6 from the Mustang and rate 19/26/22 and 17/23/19, respectively. Edge also offers the 2.0-liter version of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder. With 270 pound-feet of torque, it delivers V-6-like acceleration with four-cylinder fuel economy of around 21/30/24 mpg. Unfortunately, it’s a $995 option and isn’t available with AWD. Edge’s ride and handling are good but unexceptional. And the confounding MyFord Touch multimedia operating system can be infuriating; it’s standard or optional, depending on the trim level. Base-price range for the 2013 Ford Edge is $28,350-$39,885.

Subaru Outback: This five-seater is a fine foil for the Equinox, even though it looks more like an overgrown station wagon than a conventional SUV. Outback’s ace is brilliant packaging that gives it more passenger volume, more cargo space, and more ground clearance than the Equinox. It comes standard with AWD and, thanks in part to low-profile horizontally opposed engines, has a relatively low center of gravity for good handling. Outbacks weigh less than the other crossovers in this grouping, so the 173-horsepower four-cylinder versions are adequate performers. They rate 21/28/24 mpg with manual transmission, 24/30/26 with a continuously variable automatic, and have a base-price range of $24,290-$29,890. Six-cylinder Outbacks have a lively 256 horsepower, rate 18/25/20 mpg, and have a base-price range of $29,290-$32,890.

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: Redesigned for model-year 2013, this is a very polished five-seater with the kind of modern styling that makes the Equinox look dated. Not to be confused with the longer, 7-passenger V-6 Santa Fe, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport comes only with four-cylinder engines. The 190-horsepower base version is a good match for the four-cylinder Equinox. With front-drive it starts at $25,275 and rates a laudable 23/33/26 mpg. With AWD it’s priced from $27,925 and rates 20/29/23. The 2.0T model with its 264-horsepower turbocharged four feels quicker and more refined than the V-6 Equinox. With front-drive, the 2.0T starts at $28,525 and rates a laudable 22/31/25 mpg. With AWD it’s priced from $30,275 and rates 20/28/22. Kia is a Hyundai corporate partner and its version of the Santa Fe is the Sorento. The Sorento is available with a tiny third-row seat and actually outsells the Santa Fe, but we’d wait for the substantially revised 2014 Sorento.

2013 Chevrolet Equinox Next Steps