Model: 2005 to 2009 Chevrolet Equinox
Vehicle type: SUV
Approximate used price range: $8,000 to $16,000
History/description: In 2005, Chevrolet launched the Equinox SUV into what would quickly become a crowded marketplace full of capable, all-season family haulers. It replaced the long-lived Blazer with a more comfortable, efficient and car-like machine.Those shopping for a used Equinox will find LS and LT trim levels, representing the basic and more fully-loaded models, respectively. Higher-end models got fog-lamps, alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat, tinted glass and more. Air conditioning was standard on all models, and ABS brakes, traction control and All Wheel Drive (AWD) could be optionally specified.
All models also got V6 power, flexible seating and relatively generous interior proportions.
What owners like: According to Equinox drivers, AWD models deliver admirable performance and traction in the snow. The Equinox’s audio system, interior versatility and ride comfort are also highly rated by owners.
What owners hate: Common complaints centre around the Equinox’s large turning circle, some cheap interior trim and a noisy engine. Some drivers also complain of higher-than-expected fuel consumption, thanks in part to the lack of an available four-cylinder engine.
Common issues: Nearly every Equinox in the used market had GM’s 3.4-litre, 185-horsepower V6 under the hood. In past applications, this so-called “3400”engine was known for a nasty gasket and coolant problem.
Put simply, an overly corrosive engine coolant could dissolve engine gaskets and cause a slew of expensive problems that could lead to engine failure. This problem seems to have been remedied by time the 3400 engine made its way under the Equinox’s hood, though shoppers are advised to remain cautious and have any used candidate inspected for this issue by a certified GM mechanic.
Shoppers wishing to play it safe can also opt for a 2007 or later Equinox with some portion of the 160,000 kilometre powertrain warranty remaining, or a 2008 or later model with the optional 3.6-litre V6.
On a test drive, kill the stereo and be sure to drive slowly in a tight circle, over some potholes, and through a parking lot with speedbumps. In each of the above situations, note any clunking, popping, grinding or clicking noises that could be a sign of trouble.
Clicking or rubbing apparent from the rear of the vehicle could indicate a differential problem, too.
Those test-driving an AWD model are encouraged to check for unwelcomed noises when the system engages to power the rear wheels. This happens automatically when wheelspin is detected, so drivers will need to stab the throttle on some sand or ice where appropriate to get the tires slipping. Groaning or grinding noises in the process may indicate a potentially expensive problem.
The verdict: Used Equinox shoppers will likely find the model comfortable, attractively priced, and roomy — especially compared to some of the smaller, pricier competition from Japan.