COAL: 2011 Equinox LT – The Appliance

The day we sold our 1999 Prizm, we went to pick up our Equinox.  Our boys were getting bigger and we wanted  a more substantial family hauler. The Equinox first came on the scene in 2006, and a completely new and larger model emerged for the 2010 model year.  It is built at a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, roughly 130 miles east of Detroit , along with the GMC Terrain.

This generation was a great seller for GM in the midsize crossover segment, and they soldiered on with minimal changes until the 2018 model year when it was 100% revamped. At the time, I believe we paid $24,500 for the car, not a small sum, at least to me.  Long since paid off,  we have had this car going on 8 years, and 117,000 miles.  It’s been a perfectly fine, if unexciting vehicle for us. Mrs. C is the primary driver. Unusual for me, I don’t have too much to say about  it.

I do believe GM got a lot right on this car for it’s intended mission. Its competition includes vehicles like the RAV4, CRX and Escape. It’s roomy for 5, comfortable in back, and is handsome on the outside. The interior has a sporty aesthetic to it with a slate grey on light grey two tone look, which I like. There are a lot of hard plastics, the upside being it’s held up well. The two tone seats have a fabric that while not plush, is very durable. There are no ergonomic gaffes in terms of placement of controls and lots of handy storage.   It was our first car with  XM Radio and Onstar, as well as conveniences like  bluetooth , phone connectivity  and built in USB ports. All work well.

Driving it? An emphatic MEH. Its weighs almost 4,000 pounds, and wallows in and out of corners.  But then again it is not reasonable to expect it to handle like a sports sedan is it? It’s motivated by a 180 hp 2.4L twin cam Ecotec 4,  which has to work very hard to move that kind of mass.  It is loud and buzzy enough to make that very clear. In Eco mode, the 6 speed transmission does a lot of shifting to get to optimal efficiency. Once at highway speed though, it hums along perfectly fine.


Fuel economy is stated at 22 MPG city, 32 MPG highway. I cannot see under any conditions except in a laboratory that you would get 32MPG in this car.  We get 20 MPG around town, and 26-27 MPG on the highway. If I could do it over again maybe I would’ve opted for the V-6, althought an overwhelming majority of buyers  opt for the four. As you will see shortly, there is another reason why the 6 might of been a better choice.

Reliability wise, it’s been good, with just one trip to the dealer for a check engine light for rough running in the first year, which was resolved same-day. Life went on merrily after that.    In the summer of 2016 however, at 72,000 miles, the transmission imploded. I received a panic call from Mrs. C as the car was immobile and caused a half mile back up on a major road during rush hour. I hopped in, talked to it sweetly, and coaxed it 100 yards to a nearby strip mall parking lot. It it was 100% covered under the warranty, which expired at 75,000 miles.

Right now at 115,000 miles, it is using a lot of oil  – about a quart per thousand miles .  Nine months ago, Mrs. C took it to our mechanic stating “somethings ticking”,  and he found that’s because we were down almost 4 quarts of oil.  Research shows that the consumption  problem is widely known with this engine. Rumors of a class action lawsuit are all over the Internet but I’m not sure if any of them are legit.

It’s been going back to the dealership for that to be checked every 1,000 miles. This week the service advisor said I was a quart low after my second trip back in. After the next one they will petition GM to authorize a warranty repair.  GM can deny it, cover it 100% or pay a portion. Not sure where this will end up,  but it’d be nice if they’d fix it. It makes me angry. Modern engines just should not have this issue. There is a GM service bulletin and something of a silent recall on this problem. The service advisor told me that while the engine does not have to be removed to replace the pistons, a repair cost would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500.


Crossovers don’t really  do it for me. Yes, they have great utility and are good family cars, I just find them …very dull.  It is the family pack mule, and while we maintain it, we don’t baby it.  I might of waxed it once, but I don’t remember and come to think of it,  I don’t think I did.  We stuff it to the gills for shopping, camping and vacations and don’t give it much thought. There are plenty of  scuffs, nicks, bumps and bruises inside and out.  I’m starting to see rust in conspicuous places, and on white cars it’s going to look like it has acne. This climate and these roads are just very hard on cars.

Mrs. C is not really a car person, and  doesn’t care much about what she drives so long as it doesn’t leave her stranded.   She is working from home now and driving a lot less.   Despite it being 8 years old and showing it’s age, objectively it’s perfectly fine for our current needs. And no payment on it is definitely a huge bonus.

But…what  if GM doesn’t address the engine oil consumption issue?  What do we do?  Multiple choice: A). Get rid of an otherwise functioning car and buy new, or newer? B). Pay for an expensive engine repair and extend its life? Or C) No warranty fix offered- just be fastidious about watching the oil?   At this point, we’re in it for the long haul, so probably C for now at least. What say the CC community?