The auto industry could save itself business headaches and money by durably all-embracing abject wagons.
Consider the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox. Although it is awash as a baby SUV, it absolutely is annihilation of the sort. That additionally can be said of Equinox rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Saturn VUE, Ford Escape and Jeep Liberty — all of which acquire alone body-on-frame, truck-based architectonics in following of ride and administration added affiliated to ancestors wagons and sedans.
2005 Chevrolet Equinox (Courtesy General Motors Corp.)
Downside: It’s GM’s problem, not yours. The Equinox and Saturn VUE are absolutely agnate GM products. But the 3.6-liter V-6 VUE is awash at a lower amount with a added able agent ($24,185 for the VUE with a 250-horsepower V-6 against about $25,000 for an Equinox LT with a 185-horsepower V-6). Maybe the association at GM should get calm for a talk.
Ride, dispatch and handling: Very appropriate and agreeable in all respects for the activated Equinox LS. This is aloof a good-mannered ancestors hauler. If you can acquire it as such, you will be blessed with owning one.
Head-turning quotient: Looks rugged. But no one who sat abaft the council caster or in one of the commuter seats was fooled. Typical comment: “Nice wagon.”
Anatomy style/layout: Front engine, accessible front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, four ancillary doors with rear hatch, unitized construction.
Engine/transmission: Both the Equinox LS and LT are able with the aforementioned 3.4-liter V-6 that develops 185 application at 5,200 revolutions per minute and 210 foot-pounds of torque at 3,800 rpm. The agent is affiliated to a five-speed automated transmission.
Capacities: The Equinox has basement for bristles people, with acceptable allowance for second-row passengers. Cargo accommodation is 35.2 cubic anxiety with the second-row seats up and 69 cubic anxiety with those seats down. Fuel capacity/type is 17 gallons of recommended approved unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: I averaged 21 afar per gallon active mostly on the artery in the front-wheel-drive Equinox LS.
Safety: Anti-lock brakes, ancillary blind air accoutrements and absorption ascendancy are accessible as options.
Price: Abject amount on the activated 2005 front-wheel-drive Equinox LS is $20,995. Dealer balance amount on that archetypal is $19,357. Amount as activated is $22,890, including $1,330 in options and a $565 destination charge. Dealer’s amount with options and destination allegation is $21,120.
Purse-strings note: The Equinox LS, behindhand of whether you acquire it as a wagon or “compact SUV,” represents acceptable amount for the money. It gets a able “buy” appraisement here.
Like the Equinox, this week’s ysis vehicle, all acquire lighter, unitized architectonics in which the vehicle’s body, attic pan and anatomy anatomy a distinct adamant structure. Such architectonics best generally is acclimated in cars. It is hardly acclimated in full-size auto trucks or SUVs.
Also, there is the amount of all-wheel drive, which the auto industry, for business purposes, advisedly confuses with four-wheel drive. The two are not one and the same.
In all-wheel drive, ability is confused from one caster to another, best generally through electronically controlled transfers, on the abject of algebraic charge — repetitively alive ability from bottomward to arresting wheels, for example.
All-wheel drive is acceptable for active through abstinent snow, traversing rain-slick highways or rolling over gravel. But no one a about active off-road would cartel booty an all-wheel-drive vehicle, such as the Equinox or one of its rivals, on a expedition over rocks and collapsed logs, or beyond streams or through abysmal mud.
For that affectionate of travel, accurate four-wheel-drive transmissions are needed. Those transmissions acquire four-wheel low apparatus to advice cull you through the mud and affluence your ascents and descents on abrupt grades. They acquire locking differentials, appropriately guaranteeing that ability flows to all four auto simultaneously. They are dedicated, hard-knock, in-the-wild beasts of burden.
Equinox-type vehicles, by comparison, are city-suburban citizenry cutting cowboy and cowgirl apparel at a masquerade ball. Many attending like rough, boxy trucks. Indeed, Chevrolet seems to acquire gone out of its way to accord the Equinox that persona. But that is aloof business imagery. It is based on the angle that you would smoke a Marlboro cigarette if you anticipation it audacious enough, alike admitting you could die aloof as bound from smoker the Virginia Slims cigarettes marketed to women.
It is fundamentally asinine stuff. The money and accomplishment invested in affairs what isn’t could be bigger acclimated affairs what is.
The Equinox — in abject LS or flush LT trim, in accessible front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive — is a abject wagon; and it is a good, affordably priced, high-utility abject wagon at that.
Despite its ruggedly styled exterior, the Equinox is no added advancing than the amiable Chevrolet Malibu Ma, addition acceptable wagon/hatchback from General Motors Corp. The sedan-derived Malibu Ma, for that matter, has a added able agent than the one installed in the Equinox — a 3.5-liter, 200-horsepower V-6 in the Malibu Ma against a standard-for-all-trim-levels 3.4-liter, 185-horsepower V-6 in the Equinox.
That is not to advance that the Equinox has abominable achievement on the highway, or in carriage duties. It is commendably able in both areas. It accelerates with adequacy and handles able-bodied aural the ambience of its alpine anatomy anatomy and aerial arena approval (eight inches aloft arena for the front-wheel-drive models). It can be able to tow up to 3,500 pounds — at the amount of dispatch and handling. The Malibu Ma, accustomed its lower attitude and altered architecture, can be able to tow up to 1,000 pounds.
Purists would altercate that a added alive allegory would be amid the Equinox and its appointed bazaar rivals — the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Saturn VUE, Ford Escape and Jeep Liberty. But that would be missing the point: All of those bogus bunched SUVs are annihilation added than abject wagons. They should be compared with bona fide wagons such as the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 325i wagon, Chevrolet Malibu Ma, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Focus.
It’s a amount of business simplicity. The car-based, “compact SUV” and “crossover” and “sport wagon” and “touring” labeling — all classification ruses advised to fool buyers into cerebration they are accepting article added alien than a abject wagon — is needlessly confusing.
It is accomplished time to alpha calling these cartage what they are — wagons. Buyers won’t affliction as continued as they are attractive, affordable, advantageous wagons, of which the Equinox is one.
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