DriveApart Review: 2013 Chevy Equinox AWD LTZ 3.6 V6

DriveApart Overview
So what’s the big news about the Chevy Equinox’s recent engine swap from an optional 3.0 liter V6 to this newer and Cadillac derived 3.6 liter 292 horsepower/258 lb. feet of torque V6 which means this little baby crossover can now tow a healthy 3,500 pounds. That’s plenty for most people’s motorcycle towing needs and also manages to give this SUV somewhat of a hot rod status with a 0-60 time of just 6.7 seconds. Not bad for a family utility.

What We Like
The 2013 Chevy Equinox is on the larger end of the mini-SUV spectrum affording it a unique space in the market and plenty of legroom and cargo space thanks to a sliding rear seat system. This allows owners to choose how much cargo space or rear seat legroom they want. Oh yeah, did we mention the awesome new 3.6 liter V6 which makes this SUV more flight of foot than any of its similarly sized competition. Imagine a 100 horsepower added to a CR-V and you might see how cool this extra oomph is to possess.

What’s Not to Like
The center stack on the dashboard has too many similarly sized, poorly marked buttons set in a manner that makes little to no logical sense. You can master it after time and practice but if you just hop in the car it can be a little hard to figure out easily. Otherwise, the rear cargo area’s width is compromised somewhat by two cargo cubbies which can be handy for small objects but not when trying to slide in something like that elliptical machine you bought but never use.

Rear shot of the Equinox.

Tow and Haul
Again, the big news here is the addition of the 292 horsepower/258 lb. feet of torque 3.6 liter V6 which lifts manufacturer tow ratings to 3,500 pounds as opposed to 1,500 pounds with the previous 3.0 liter V6. You can also get this engine with the slightly more expensive GMC Terrain Denali which is based on the same platform. Adding the 3.6 liter V6 to our Equinox LTZ cost very little to our pocketbooks as it is just a $1,500 stand-alone option.

As far as cargo hauling inside the Equinox goes, its capacities are pretty much average for an SUV of its size and pricing. With the second row of seats in place there is 31.5 cubic feet of cargo space with that figure growing to a maximum 63.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. One thing Chevy has over the competition is a rear seat that slides back and forth so you can adjust how much legroom to give rear passengers as opposed to cargo volume. It’s just another way to make it easier to haul your cargo—both human and otherwise.

The Drive
Refined, serene, quiet and peaceful. That is one way to describe the driving experience behind the wheel of this 2013 Chevy Equinox with the 3.6 liter V6 thanks to a very quiet ride and very low levels of wind, tire or engine noise at cruising speeds. Push the pace a little bit and the Equinox will take the bait, up to a point, as the steering is playful and offers more feel than most of its foes in this class. It may not corner like it’s riding on rails but no SUV does. This is an excellent vehicle for hauling your bike, your family and your stuff wherever you want to go. What more do you want?

The 3.6 liter V6.

Engine and Drivetrain
How many times can we say that we adore GM’s 3.6 liter 292 horsepower/258 lb. feet of torque V6 in this application as it offers up boundless acceleration around town or even at highly illegal freeway speeds. It also makes inspiring growls and barks as you rev it out to redline, something most SUV engines aren’t prone to do. The six-speed automatic was seamless in operation most of the time even if occasionally it was too eager to drop too many gears when it sensed we wanted more power than we actually did. But once we got used to the touchy throttle we quite enjoyed having all this power under our feet. Literally.

Interesting Vehicle Features
According to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) the 2013 Chevy Equinox is a “Top Safety Pick” which is impressive but not their top score which now stands at “Top Safety Pick Plus.” Currently no other midsize SUVs (the Equinox is just bigger enough than the Sportages and RAV4 to stay out of small SUV status) on the market have a “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating and no doubt getting the Equinox that rating will be high on the priority list for any impending updates.

Gas Mileage
The EPA estimates that the 2013 Chevy Equinox LTZ AWD with the 3.6 liter V6 will return 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 miles per gallon on the highway. This SUV runs on regular unleaded and were pleasantly surprised to find it returning 21 miles per gallon over the course of a one week stay with us.

The interior of the Equinox.

Interior and Exterior
Our tester was bathed in a gorgeous hue of deep red called Crystal Red Metallic which really accentuated the lines of this compact to midsize SUV very well. It kept the vehicle looking sporty and worthy of its mid-$30,000 MSRP. It just looks sharp from all angles and will no doubt appeal to more people than a GMC Terrain which looks like a tank. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As for the interior, this is still one of the best feeling and looking interiors in the segment even with our earlier complaint about too many difficult to decipher buttons on the center stack. Everything from the fit and finish to the materials choices speaks to this SUV lasting and looking good at least through the life of your loan. But we would wager you could get a good decade out of this SUV’s interior before it started looking raggedy.

Pricing
The top of the line 2013 Chevy Equinox LTZ AWD stickers starting at $32,265 and comes standard with leather seating, power adjustable and heated front seats, automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, a back-up camera, USB/i-Pod integration, Bluetooth, an adjustable power rear tailgate that allows you to set how high it will raise in the air (therefore avoiding crashes into your garage door), an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with Pandora, Stitcher and Bluetooth audio streaming via the easy to use ChevyMyLink system 7-inch center touch screen.

To this we added the aforementioned 3.6 liter V6 for $1,500, 18-inch chrome clad aluminum alloy wheels for $1,000, navigation for $795 and the special red paint set us back $325. These are all options well worth buying and they bring the MSRP to a reasonable $35,885.

The Equinox outdoors.

The Verdict
Thanks to a thumpingly powerful motor, handsome exterior lines and a supremely comfortable interior, we highly recommend the 3,500 pound capable 2013 Chevy Equinox LTZ AWD 3.6 V6 as your next daily family runabout/motorbike towing beast of burden. This SUV is not only capable, comfortable, refined and pretty fun to drive but it also won’t break the bank with either the price or future fuel bills. And always remember, if gas prices get too high you can just ride your motorcycle everywhere. It’s always good to have options. Especially ones that can fit your whole family like this Equinox.

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