The sport utility market continues to expand despite higher than
normal gas prices. The reason? Because, these
do-almost-everything-vehicles provide just what consumers want.
Sure, sales are down right now, but they will recover as more
economical vehicles enter the mix. SUVs carry people, haul
stuff, pull stuff, can go off-roading [okay, maybe not the
Equinox], provide superior handling than many cars, etc.
Fortunately, not all are gas guzzlers either. Chevrolet’s
Equinox and the Land Rover Freelander are two that come to mind.
Let’s take a look at these two compact SUVs.
Chevrolet Equinox – I like the looks of the Equinox,
Chevy’s car-based SUV that is only slightly smaller than the
mid-size TrailBlazer. By car-based I mean a vehicle that handles
and drives more like a car and is actually built on a car
platform [like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, for example].
This means that the Equinox is built chiefly for the road, so if
you want an off road experience you would need to opt for the
TrailBlazer or get the Freelander. Okay, I digress.
The Equinox is available as either a front wheel drive or all
wheel drive vehicle. Seating five passengers, the Equinox comes
equipped with a 3.4L V6 that produces 185hp. The engine is
paired with a five-speed automatic transmission; no manual
transmission is available. A traction control system is standard
with the front wheel drive Equinox while all models come
equipped with ABS and electric steering. Standard equipment for
the Equinox includes power windows, power mirrors, and power
locks with Remote Keyless Entry; AM/FM stereo and CD player with
six speakers; and air conditioning. The Equinox has received a 5
star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration for frontal crash and side-impact crash tests.
Starting prices for the Equinox are very competitive with
comparable models in its class. Base MSRP for the FWD is just
over 22K; 24K for the AWD.
Land Rover Freelander – The smallest of all Land Rovers
is the Freelander, a compact full time all wheel drive vehicle
available as either a 3 or 5 door SUV. Unlike the Equinox, the
Freelander has full off road capabilities as do every Land Rover
model. The Freelander comes equipped with a Four-wheel
Electronic Traction Control system; ABS; a 2.5L Quad Cam V6
engine paired with a 5 speed automatic transmission; an AM/FM
stereo/CD system with RDS radio; air conditioning; fog lamps; a
perimeter security system; and much more. The Freelander, a five
passenger vehicle, sells for a price starting at just over 27K.
The Freelander is produced in England while the Equinox is built
in Canada, In all, both the Equinox and Freelander represent
well built compact SUVs with two different purposes: the Equinox
is built primarily for the highway and around town and has the
stronger engine, while the Freelander is built for both highway