The trouble with twins is that the similarities can sometimes overwhelm the differences.
Especially when it comes to nearly identical twins like the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.
General Motor’s five-seater, compact crossovers share the same Theta platform, the same powertrain choices and a whole lot of components from the same parts bins.
These two different, but oh so similar models are, for the most part, Canadian-built, usually produced side-by-side on the same assembly line at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll with some overflow production coming from the GM Canada’s Oshawa plant and from the former Saturn factory in Spring Hill, TN.
Co-incidentally, according to the manufacturer’s plates on the doorposts, both models driven here rolled off the CAMI line in August, 2015.
But their real beginnings traces back to the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox, the first-ever crossover in GM’s lineup, followed a year later by the 2006 Pontiac Torrent. With passing years and Pontiac’s demise, a reworked, second generation 2010 Chevrolet Equinox was followed more quickly by a new sibling, the 2010 GMC Terrain.
The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox offers three trim levels – LS, LT and LTZ – with prices ranging from $26,795-$34,495.
The Equinox comes standard with a 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder Ecotec motor rated at 182 hp and 172 lb/ft of torque. Enthusiasts tend to pooh-pooh this engine as being anemic and lacklustre, although I found it perfectly serviceable for day-to-day driving chores. Fuel economy is rated at 11.5/8.2L/100km (city/hwy), bolstered by an Eco mode. My real-world results averaged out to 10.9L/100km (comb).
An optional 3.6-litre V6 ($1,725) is also available.
More about this engine later.
Both motors are mated to a six-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive (FWD) or an optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) system ($2,200) available in upscale versions.
As tested here, our first ride, a full-blown 2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD model ($34,495) comes with all the bells and whistles – power liftgate, powered heated seats, leather upholstery and all the expected top-of-the-line mod cons.
It does, however, take $3,500 worth of option packages to add technologies like forward collision alert, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and ultrasonic parking sensors, along with an upgraded eight-speaker Pioneer audio system.
Some of the interior trim pieces, including metal-look dash and door inserts seem a little too plasticky-tacky for this pay grade but, for the most part, the Equinox hits the expected crossover buttons – family-style comfort for five, a raised SUV-like vantage point, confidence-inspiring AWD, 892 litres of cargo room expanding to 1,804 litres with the second row flopped forward and enough amenities to please the passengers. This tested Equinox even added universal tablet holders ($290) to help placate the backseat rug rats.
The 2016 GMC Terrain offers four trim levels – SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT and Denali – with starting prices ranging from $28,215-$43,265. Some of the upper tier prices include the AWD ($2,200) and optional V6 engine ($1,725).
Our second test ride, a fully loaded GMC Terrain Denali model, has even more equipment than the Equinox LTZ, and more of it comes included within the trim level instead of being added in optional packages. The interior almost mirrors the Equinox cabin, except for badging, a little wood simulation and red info readouts instead of blue, a cue carried over from the Pontiac era.
Our Terrain Denali ($42,365) also adds the optional 3.6-litre V6 engine ($2,165 in this case, including 19-inch wheels and a few other goodies). That more muscular motor makes 301 hp and 272 lb/ft of torque, which works out to substantially more oomph than the four-banger.
Yes, the V6 adds at least 70 kg, doesn’t have an Eco mode and pays a fuel pump penalty, with a rating of 14.9/10.4L/100km (city/hwy). My real world averages worked out to about 14.5L/100km, although I bettered the highway rating on the long, snowy 700 km haul to the Detroit Auto Show and back.
But the power difference is notable, allowing for more responsive get-up-and-go, more confident passing ability and a viable 1,588 kg tow rating instead of the four-cylinder’s 680 kg rating.
So, having driven the Equinox and the Terrain, the 2.4-litre Ecotec and the 3.6-litre V6, which to pick?
Well, brand beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The GMC lineup is pricier but also slightly upscale with more included equipment, although I’d probably opt for Chevy pricing. And as for engines, if you can afford the extra cost of the V6, go for it. But unless you’re towing a lot of big boy toys or running a Weight Watchers carpool, the Ecotec four-cylinder seems more than adequate, saving you the $2,200 V6 cost along with fuel savings. The price sheets estimate an annual 20,000 km fuel cost of $2,180 (4cyl) compared to $2,790 (V6).
The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain have exhibited surprising staying power over the past few years and when you add the sales numbers of these twins together, which is only fair, they rank within the top ranks of Canadian SUV/CUV sales and are slotted firmly in the number one SUV sales spot in the U.S.
With that kind of staying power, the recent 2016 makeover will tide this generation of vehicles over until a rumoured, new smaller, lighter weight lineup debuts, probably sometime next year as 2017 or 2018 models.
Canadian Twins: Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD 2016 & GMC Terrain Denali AWD 2016
BODY STYLE: Compact, five-passenger crossover
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel-drive with six-speed automatic transmission
ENGINES: As tested Equinox with 2.4-litre Ecotec inline four-cylinder (182 hp, 172 lb/ft) and Terrain with 3.6-litre V6 (301 hp, 272 lb/ft)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 2.4-litre Ecotec 11.5/8.2L/100km (city/hwy); 3.6-litre V6 14.9/10.4L/100km (city/hwy).
CARGO CAPACITY: Equinox 892 litres/1804 litres with second row folded; Terrain 895 litres/1810 litres with second row folded
TOW RATING: 2.4-litre Ecotec 680 kg; 3.6-litre V6 1,588 kg.
PRICES AS TESTED: 2016 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ AWD $39,795 incl $1,700 destination; 2016 GMC Terrain Denali AWD $48,990 incl $1,700 destination.
WEB SITE: Wheels.ca