Patrick Grieve

Chevy Stumps Some Dummies With a Math Problem in 2016 Equinox Ad

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New 2016 Chevy Equinox "Real People Not Actors" commercial "Math Problem"

Chevy has released another ad in its “Real People, Not Actors” marketing campaign (which actually does feature some actors), once again with the apparent goal of publicly shaming some dumb people.

In this new commercial for the 2016 Equinox, a focus group of ordinary people is asked to answer a math problem:

Embarrassing. After being exposed as dullards, how will these people go back to their normal lives? How can that teacher command respect from her students? How can that electrical engineer be trusted by his colleagues? How can that real estate finance analyst go back to doing whatever it is that real estate finance analysts do?

All right, time to give these dummies a crash course in remedial mathematics:

If Car A is traveling 52 miles per hour, and there are 5,280 feet in a mile, that means it is traveling 274,560 feet per hour. There are sixty minutes in an hour, meaning he’s going 4,576 feet per minute, and there are sixty seconds in a minute, meaning he’s going 76.27 feet per second.

Using the same process, we can determine that Car B is traveling at 39.6 feet per second. Now, subtract Car B’s speed from Car A’s speed (76.27−39.6) and you get a difference of 36.67 feet per second. Divide the distance between the two cars by the speed differential (170.2 feet/36.67 feet per second) and you get your answer: 4.64 seconds.


Okay, so I’ll admit, I couldn’t have done that without a calculator. (Or, probably, without copying the explanation provided by one of the YouTube commenters…)

But that guy who guessed that Car A and Car B would “never” collide? Yeah, he should know better. Even if you can’t do long division, it isn’t exactly rocket surgery to figure out that a car traveling faster than the car in front of it will eventually catch up to the slower car.

New 2016 Chevy Equinox "Real People Not Actors" commercial "Math Problem"

“Uh, never”? This is not a trick question, James

Of course, the point of the ad is that the 2016 Chevy Equinox is equipped with Forward Collision Alert, which warns you when you’re approaching a vehicle too quickly.

That’s right, gone are the days of pulling out your TI-83 while driving and quickly calculating how soon you will collide with the car directly in front of you—the new Equinox does the math for you! Mathematically-challenged chem teachers and electrical engineers, take heart.


  • Patrick GrieveContributor

    Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.

  • CLE_Browns_Fan

    Yup, my 5th grade math student son and I calculated 4.65s but we rounded some numbers, so that explains the hundredth difference. Cheers!

    • George Dixon

      But you and your son were not limited to just one second to answer

      • George Dixon

        Look at the commercial and notice that the guy hits the buzzer after only one second. I couldn’t even spell my first name in just one second so what does this commercial even mean?
        Also your right brain would process using visual data that you were coming up on that car ahead of you without ever having to use the left brain to do any calculation
        All this commercial teaches me is that you can’t trust automakers

        • Rick Resnick

          Dude. I’m pretty sure the video edits out the parts when the “real people” are doing their calculations.

        • George Dixon

          Hey Bro, I hear you, but the fact remains that the folks were timed. Now I wasn’t there but I would bet my bottom dollar that the marketers set this up with something like…Our car can calculate times to collision in just seconds. Why don’t you give it a try! Once again though I want to stress that we humans rely on our visual brain linked in to our limbic systems when we are driving. This whole useless exercise does NOT equate with how we deal with judging distance and danger when we drive.

  • Rayjay

    And Go Steelers!!

  • Stormaster

    The guy stated that the 2 cars were traveling in the SAME direction. They’d only collide if they were going in opposite directions. Both going East would never collide. One has to be going West. Both going the same direction will never collide.

    • ledoc

      The two cars are traveling in the same lane in the same direction and the car following is traveling faster than the car ahead of it so eventually it will run into the rear end of the slower car.

  • Rick Resnick

    Aren’t you all making this problem way too hard? The speed difference is 25mph. How long does it take for a car to go 170.2 feet at 25mph? That’s an easy calculation that gets you to the 4.64 seconds.

    • ledoc

      Well my definition of an easy calculation is one I don’t need a calculator for. 25mphX5280 Ft/Mile/60 minutes perhour/60 sec per minute Goodness !!

  • ledoc

    You are welcome!

  • Rebecca Travis

    Also for the shortened version …yes they cut the first part off after the 1st or second day to where you can not see the whole math problem to know they are in the same lane. With Heads in the way and the clip away from where the problem is shown in full is not there. They cut enough away from the full commercial so all you see is the top and hear him ask how soon will they collide. You have to search on youtube for the full commercial to run it slow enough to see the full math question. Of course those only seeing the version on tv are going to answer never…cause the full question is not presented in that version. They don’t see they are in the same lane from the problem on the board.

  • Shay

    I’m in this commerical. I’d love to tell you all the backstory. We were given 30 seconds to answer. No calculator. I’m not an actor. But I made a ton of money on this stupid commerical. Which was a total suprise as I was told I was in a focus group. Also… I’m not a dummy. 😉 who’s laughing now??

    • Yahs

      If you made a ton of money from a commercial doesn’t that now make you an actor?