Base Price: $32,265

Price as Tested: $36,385

This week, we're driving Chevy's 2013 Equinox AWD LTZ, a top line mid-size crossover that sells extremely well in this market.

Our LTZ fully loaded tester is the "flip side of the coin" when compared to the entry level LS, a front drive crossover that starts at just $23,775 well-equipped. This price reality allows most all potential Equinox consumers a wide price range to work with.

Notable is that all of the Equinox award winning safety features are identical in each and every model, from LS to LTZ. Included are 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, hillstart assist, Stabilitrak with traction control and much more. Equinox for 2012 received a "Top Safety Pick" from the Insurance Institute, so I expect 2013 to be similar.

Our tester featured the $1,500 more 264-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, which delivers way more go-power yet still generates acceptable EPA ratings at 19 city and 23 highway. The V6 also allows for a 3,500 lb. tow capacity, which is 2,000 lb. more than the LS's 1,500 pound limit.

In comparison, Equinox LS and LT models feature a 182-horse 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder that produces 22 city and 32 highway in front drive mode and 20 city and 29 highway in AWD design. This excellent fuel mileage comes thanks to Chevy's standard six-speed automatic transmission and an ECO mode button that allows switching to a fuel save mode.

Our LTZ cabin features leather appointed heated seats and lots of head and legroom for a mid-size unit. Other notable standard items include a rearview safety camera, eight-way power driver seat with lumbar, sliding 60/40 rear seat with three position recline, rear park assist, automatic climate control, keyless entry, power lift gate, cruise, My-Link AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with seven-inch screen, hands free phone, USB, Bluetooth, XM Satellite and much more.

Passengers in the second row won't be cramped, as there is more than adequate leg room. As for storage, Equinox's 31.4 cu. ft. of cargo space with second row up expands to 63.7 cubic feet with seats down. One of the negatives, however, is the inability of the second row seat to fold fully flat, disallowing any true-flat rear cargo space.

Equinox relies on an AWD system that is fully automatic and ready for inclement weather. It's similar to the four-cylinder AWD design sans a few LTZ six-speed "tranny tweaks" to handle the V6's additional horsepower.

The 2013 models are carryovers in style and performance, so choosing a 2012 leftover may prove beneficial. All carry five-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranties and are built in Ontario, Canada.

On the highway Equinox is agile and plants well thanks to standard 17-inch tires and car-like fully independent suspension. Our tester came with 18-inch tires and chrome clad aluminum wheels for $1,000 more. The final option was a MyLink upgrade that adds navigation for $795.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.5 inches, 18-gallon fuel tank, 3,500 pound tow capacity, 40 ft. turn radius and a 4,146 pound curb weight.

I like the Equinox very much and recommend front drive LS/LT models before the higher priced LTZs as spending $36,385 on a LTZ AWD finds the return on investment and depreciation schedule questionable. Thus, a lower priced Equinox LS AWD, which you can park in your driveway for $25,505, may well be the best buy of all.

Likes: Design, safety, roomy, fuel mileage.

Dislikes: LTZ models too expensive, second row seat won't fold flat.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).