The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is the best-reviewed small SUV in our latest report update. Classy looks, a roomy, well-styled interior, great ride quality, four-cylinder or V6 power, and available all-wheel-drive create a package that reviewers find very compelling, even though the Equinox offers less cargo space than its key rival, the 2011 Honda CR-V (Base MSRP: $21,895 to $28,095) .
Following a complete redesign for the 2010 model year, the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox continues essentially unchanged. The biggest news is that the available 3.0-liter V6 is now flex-fuel compatible, meaning drivers with access to E85 ethanol pumps have the option to use the biofuel. Beyond that, the 2011 Equinox just gets some minor equipment tweaks. For a comprehensive analysis of what reviewers and other third-party organizations have to say about Chevy's compact crossover, see our report on the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. (Base MSRP: $22,615 to $29,970) .
With its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder, the front-wheel-drive 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is rated at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined; with AWD and the same engine, it's 20 city/29 highway/23 combined. The base engine, while more efficient, only allows for a 1,500-pound towing capacity. The available 3.0-liter V6 offers up more muscle and can tow up to 3,500 pounds, but it's predictably less efficient: 17 city/25 highway/20 combined with FWD and 17 city/24 highway/20 combined with AWD. On E85 ethanol, the V6's fuel economy ratings plummet. Combined fuel economy when using the biofuel ranges from 14 to 17 mpg combined. Note that some reviewers report difficulty in hitting the EPA fuel economy numbers in their real-life tests.
Crash ratings are excellent. In independent evaluations conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2011 Equinox comes away with the maximum score of "Good" in front, rear, and side-impact crash tests. In the IIHS roof-crush strength test, the Equinox also scores a "Good." It's named a 2011 Top Safety Pick. The federal government updated its testing methodology and scoring for 2011 and, in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests, the Equinox comes away with a 4-star (out of 5) overall rating. In individual tests, the Equinox gets 4 stars for front impact protection and rollover risk, and the full 5 stars for side impact protection.
Edmunds.com editors sum up the 2011 Equinox, noting that the V6 is now flex-fuel capable. There aren't any other significant changes. Editors say that the Equinox offers a lot of style and comfort, and is a strong competitor to longtime powers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Review: 2011 Chevrolet Equinox Review, Editors of Edmunds.com
ConsumerReports.org auto editors evaluate both the four-cylinder and V6 versions of the Chevrolet Equinox, rating it against other SUVs based on their comprehensive track-based and real-world testing.
Review: Chevrolet Equinox, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
This list shows fuel economy ratings for all 2012/2011 model-year SUVs, including the Chevrolet Equinox. The four-cylinder versions are less thirsty than their V6 counterparts. For 2011, the V6 Equinox is flexfuel-compatible, meaning it can run on E85 ethanol, though using the biofuel carries a substantial penalty in terms of reduced fuel economy compared to gasoline.
Review: 2012/2011 Sport Utility Vehicles, U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency
Under NHTSA's revised testing and scoring methodology, the 2011 Chevy Equinox scores a four-star overall safety rating (five stars is the max). In individual tests, it gets four stars for front impacts, five stars for side impacts, and four stars for rollover resistance.
Review: 2011 Chevrolet Equinox SUV, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
The Chevy Equinox SUV aces its crash and roof-strength tests at IIHS, earning a 2011 Top Safety Pick designation.
Review: Chevrolet Equinox, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety