Chevrolet moves its popular Equinox compact crossover into its next generation for 2018, with a roomier interior, lots of new technology and – coming soon – its first diesel engine option.
The 2018 Equinox is already available at dealerships, with prices starting at $23,580 (plus $895 freight) for the base L front-drive model, and ranging as high as $34,435 for the Premier all-wheel-drive version.
Other models include the front-drive LS ($25,510); LT ($26,750); and Premier ($30,790), our test vehicle for the week; and all-wheel-drive models, the LS ($27,260) and LT ($28,500). The L model is not offered with all-wheel drive, at least for now.
This is the third generation of the Equinox, and when all of the variations are in production, it will come with a choice of three turbocharged engines – two gasoline, one diesel.
Equinox is Chevrolet’s second-best-selling retail vehicle, after the Silverado, and more than 2 million have been sold since it was introduced for the 2005 model year. With the redesign, the 2018 Equinox will also be rolled out to about 115 additional global markets later this year, GM says.
The Equinox has room for up to five passengers, and no third-row seat option is offered to expand passenger capacity.
Its re-styled exterior echoes the new global Chevrolet design cues and sculpted shapes seen in the Volt, Malibu and Cruze.
There is more chrome trim on all models, and Malibu-inspired styling, with such features as projector-beam headlights, LED daytime running lights, and horizontal taillights. Headlights and taillights are LED on upper trim levels.
Inside, the Equinox has been extensively restyled, with a “down-and-away instrument panel” and a “low windshield base” that gives a “commanding outward view,” General Motors says.
Among new interior features are an optional denim-style seat fabric, and a “kneeling” rear seat in which the bottom cushions tilt forward when the split-folding seatback is lowered, providing a flat load floor for cargo.
The only engine available for now is the 1.5-liter inline turbo four-cylinder with 170 horsepower (just 12 less than the previous model’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder). It has 203 foot-pounds of torque.
Coming later this year will be the optional 2.0-liter inline turbo four-cylinder with 252 horsepower (48 less than the previous 3.6-liter V-6, which is no longer offered) and 260 foot-pounds of torque; and the same 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder turbo-diesel that is also available in the Chevrolet Cruze compact, with 136 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque.
Chevy says the 2.0-liter gasoline engine will come with a new nine-speed automatic transmission, while the base 1.5-liter and the diesel come with six-speed automatics.
Front-wheel drive is standard. The optional switchable all-wheel-drive system disconnects from the rear axle when not needed, helping to conserve fuel by allowing the vehicle to operate only on front drive.
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 1.5-liter with the six-speed automatic, included in our Premier front-drive test vehicle, are 26 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined. The diesel is expected to get up to 40 mpg.
The new Equinox is 183.1 inches long, which is 4.7 inches shorter than the 2017 model. With a base weight of 3,327 pounds, it is also about 450 pounds lighter than the previous generation.
New safety and connectivity technology includes seven- and eight-inch-diagonal MyLink infotainment systems designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Our Premier model came standard with the uplevel eight-inch screen, while base models get the seven-inch.
Leather seats are part of the Premier extras, along with an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, front heated seats, dual-zone air conditioning with automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and phone controls, wireless phone charging, a six-speaker audio system, a driver-information center with color screen above the steering column, and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
The Premier also comes with a power tailgate with hands-free opening, as well as the LED headlights and taillights; remote vehicle start; keyless entry with pushbutton start; deep-tinted rear glass; and the split-folding rear seat.
Safety gear includes radar- and camera-based adaptive technologies, which on our Premier model were such standard items as a rear-view camera, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist.
The Comfort and Convenience Package II ($1,895) on our tester tacked on some of the optional technology, including the Safety Alert Seat (haptic seat), Surround Vision, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Seat Reminder (when there’s a child back there and you’re departing the vehicle), Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Our vehicle also came with the Sun, Sound & Navigation Package ($3,320), which replaced the 18-inch wheels with ultra-bright machined 19-inch wheels, and also brought a power sunroof, Chevrolet’s MyLink Navigation, a Bose premium seven-speaker audio system, HD radio, heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats, eight-way power front passenger seat with two-way lumbar, and ventilated front seats.
The unique kneeling rear seat gives the vehicle a flat rear load floor and up to 63.5 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seat is not needed for passengers. With the rear seatback in place, there is nearly 30 cubic feet of cargo space.
Equinox is able to tow trailers weighing up to 3,500 pounds.
We took a long-weekend trip in our Equinox with three people on board most of the time, and up to five people for briefs food and sightseeing runs. There’s actually more rear leg- and knee room compared with the last generation, so our rear passengers were comfortable. The middle position was OK for a smallish adult for short runs, but the rear seat is most comfortable with just two riding there.
Our front bucket seats were comfy even on our long highway drives, with plenty of headroom for tall folks.
Equinox is set up to accommodate today’s electronic devices, with the wireless charging feature in the front center console area that kept my Samsung Galaxy S8 all charged up. We also connected an iPhone through one of the provided front USB ports to channel our own music to the in-dash audio system.
Rear passengers had a 12-volt power outlet and two USB charging ports available in the rear of the front center console, along with A/C vents. A pull-down center armrest was available when there was no middle passenger, and it had two cupholders. There are small single bottle holders in each door.
There are two decent-size cupholders in the front center console for the driver and front passenger, just to the right of the shifter. In front of them is a tray for the smartphones, and behind is a covered console box.
Our tester’s 1.5-liter engine was surprisingly powerful enough even for some hills we encountered on our weekend jaunt, and was more than adequate for uphill freeway on-ramps and passing on two-lane country roads.
The six-speed automatic seems a bit dated for a brand-new vehicle, so perhaps Chevy will eventually make the nine-speed available or even standard with the 1.5-liter engine.
The Equinox also was surprisingly quiet inside, even at highway speeds. Conversation between front and rear passengers was easy – no one had to raise their voices.
Ride and handling were typical for a modern crossover, smooth and carlike, with no real complaints.
Standard safety features included electronic stability control with traction control, front seat-mounted side air bags, outboard roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows of seats, the GM teen-driver system, a theft-deterrent system, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and tire-pressure monitoring.
Our vehicle came with a temporary (compact) spare tire, rather than a full-size.
The tester’s exterior was a pleasant Cajun Red Tintcoat, and we had a Jet Black interior.
Total sticker price for our 2018 Equinox Premier front-wheel-drive model was $37,295, including freight and $5,610 in options.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox
The package: Compact, five-passenger, five-door, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder gasoline-powered crossover utility vehicle.
Highlights: The third generation of Chevrolet’s Equinox compact crossover has arrived for 2018. It’s completely redesigned inside and out, with more safety and connectivity/comfort features. A single gasoline engine is offered now; optional gasoline and diesel engines are on the horizon.
Negatives: No third row of seating offered for increased capacity; no V-6 engine offered.
Engine: 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder, turbocharged.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 170 HP./203 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Length: 183.1 inches.
Curb weight (base): 3,327 pounds.
Cargo volume: 29.9 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 63.5 cubic feet (rear seat folded).
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds.
EPA fuel economy: 26 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined (front-wheel drive).
Fuel capacity/type: 14.9 gallons, regular unleaded (front drive); 15.6 gallons, regular unleaded (all-wheel drive).
Base price range: $23,580-$34,435, plus $895 freight.
Price as tested: $37,295, including freight and options (Premier front-drive).
Major competitors: GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Dodge Journey, Jeep Cherokee, Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback.
On the Road rating: 8.9 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.