Photo by Paul Clinton.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

The Chevrolet Equinox compact SUV has been a surprisingly strong seller for General Motors, and has quietly found a place as a top vehicle in commercial fleets due to its utility, respectable fuel economy, and affordability.

In the fleet world, the Equinox was the third best-selling Chevrolet in the U.S. behind the Silverado and Express in 2013 with 15,006 units registered that year.

Chevrolet gave the Equinox a facelift for 2016 that included a more truck-like mesh grille, larger 7-inch touchscreen with added connectivity, and a standard back-up camera.

We tested an Equinox LT with front-wheel drive at a driving event in Solvang, Calif., at a ranch that allowed us to test the vehicle on a 16-mile loop that consisted of some stop-and-go driving in the town and a short freeway jaunt. The LT trim is now the third highest above L and LS and below LTZ.

Our Equinox was powered by the standard 2.4L four-cylinder rather than the optional 3.6L V-6 paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. These powertrains carry over from the prior model, so you won't see a change in fuel economy from the EPA-rated 32 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in the city.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

Photo by Paul Clinton.

The cabin on our model offered comfortable cloth seats and the higher seating position you'd expect from a utility vehicle. You may notice the Equinox's panoply of dashboard buttons to control HVAC, radio presets, media sources, and Bluetooth phone options.

Chevrolet has been expanding connectivity starting with its 2015 models, and the Equinox has benefitted from this initiative. It includes standard upgraded OnStar with a five-year basic plan plus six months of service. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot comes with a limited data trial. The vehicle's 7-inch dash-inset touchscreen includes Apply CarPlay integration. Chevrolet has added a glare-resistant hood above the screen that helps keep the display readable on sunnier days.

Our model would retail for $29,570 because it included options such as heated seats, remote start, rear parking assist, and other upgrades. The Equinox LT starts at $26,450.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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