G. Chambers Williams

Chevrolet Equinox turbo-dieseljoins lineup, starting at $30,700

The redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover comes with a choice of three engines, including a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel with EPA ratings of up to 39 mpg highway.
The redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover comes with a choice of three engines, including a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel with EPA ratings of up to 39 mpg highway.

Chevrolet’s popular Equinox compact crossover got a complete makeover for 2018 to move it into its third generation, and there is one big surprise: it’s now available with a turbo-diesel engine.

With the remake, the Equinox is roomier inside, and has lots of new safety technology. There is room for up to five passengers in the Equinox; no third-row seat is offered.

While gasoline-powered models start at $23,580 (plus $995 freight) for the base L front-drive model, and ranging as high as $34,435 for the Premier all-wheel-drive version, the TD or turbo-diesel versions begin at $30,700 for the LT front-wheel drive, and go as high as $34,800 for the Premier all-wheel-drive model.

Other gasoline models include the front-drive LS ($25,510); LT ($26,750); and Premier ($30,790); and all-wheel-drive models, the LS ($27,260) and LT ($28,500). The L model is not offered with all-wheel drive.

Our test vehicle for the week was the Premier TD front-drive model, with a base price of $33,000.

Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder diesel engine, paired with a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. It has 137 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. This engine and transmission combo are also offered in the GMC Terrain compact crossover, a sister vehicle to the Equinox, and the Chevrolet Cruze sedan and hatchback.

EPA ratings for the Equinox diesel are 28 mpg city/39 highway/32 combined with front-wheel drive, and 28/38/32 with all-wheel drive. During our week in the Equinox TD, we averaged 34.2 mpg, with about two-thirds highway driving.

This is the third generation of the Equinox, besides the diesel, it comes with a choice of two turbocharged gasoline engines – the base 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder, and a 2.0-liter inline four.

The 1.5-liter gasoline engine also comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2.0-liter gets a nine-speed automatic. The 1.5-liter is rated at 170 horsepower (just 12 less than the previous model’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder), and 203 foot-pounds of torque. The 2.0-liter has 252 horsepower (48 less than the previous 3.6-liter V-6, which is no longer offered) and 260 foot-pounds of torque.

Equinox is Chevrolet’s second-best-selling vehicle, after the Silverado, and more than 2 million have been sold since it was introduced for the 2005 model year. With the redesign, Chevy says the Equinox will now be available in about 115 additional global markets.

With the restyling, the Equinox gets Chevrolet’s new global design cues also found in the newest versions of the Volt, Malibu and Cruze.

The shape is more sculpted than before, and less rounded, with a more-squared rear end. There is more chrome trim on all models, and Malibu-inspired features such as projector-beam headlights, LED daytime running lights, and horizontal taillights. LED headlights and taillights are standard on higher trim levels.

Interior changes include a “down-and-away instrument panel” and a lower windshield base designed to give the driver and front passenger better forward visibility.

New interior features include 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 kneeling seat is included on the Premier models.

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 and front drive are 26 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined. With all-wheel drive, the ratings are 24/30/26. The 2.0-liter has ratings of 22/29/25 with front drive, and 22/28/24 with all-wheel drive.

The new Equinox is 183.1 inches long, 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.

Among new safety and connectivity technology are 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.

The Premier model comes with the eight-inch screen, while other trims get the seven-inch.

Other extras on our Premier tester included leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front 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 rear liftgate with hands-free opening. Other standard amenities include the LED headlights and taillights; remote vehicle start; keyless entry with pushbutton start; deep-tinted rear glass; and split-folding rear seat.

Among safety features are radar- and camera-based adaptive technologies, which on the Premier model include a rear-view camera, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist.

The Confidence and Convenience II Package ($4,515) on our tester tacked on Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Safety Alert Seat, Surround Vision, IntelliBeam headlights, heated steering wheel, eight-way power front passenger seat adjuster with power lumbar, ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.

The Sun, Sound & Navigation Package, at no extra charge on the Premier, brought a panoramic power sunroof over the front and rear seats, the Chevrolet MyLink Radio with Navigation and eight-inch color touch-screen, a Bose premium seven-speaker system, and HD Radio.

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.

Four passengers can ride in comfort, but the middle rear seating position is best for a child in a safety seat. With no passenger in that position, there is a fold-down center armrest with two cupholders.

The front bucket seats were comfy even on long highway drives, with plenty of headroom for tall passengers. There’s more rear leg and knee room compared with the previous Equinox.

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 smartphones, and behind is a covered console box.

This vehicle is definitely set up with today’s electronic devices in mind. It has a wireless charging pad in the front smartphone tray, with a 12-volt outlet and two USB ports in front of it. There are two additional USB ports inside the center console box. There are small bottle holders in the two front door pockets.

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. There are also small single bottle holders in each door.

While a bit noisier than the Equinox’s base gasoline engine, the diesel was surprisingly powerful enough for all of our routine driving, with plenty of low-end torque for quick starts – a hallmark of diesels. The noise wasn’t obnoxious, though, and mostly wasn’t even noticeable during highway cruising, especially with music playing.

Ride and handling were 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 Satin Steel, a pleasant gray color, and we had the Black/Brandy two-tone interior (with both colors on the seats, dash and door panels).

The Equinox is able to tow trailers weighing up to 3,500 pounds.

Total sticker price for our 2018 Equinox Premier TD front-wheel-drive model was $38,510, including freight and $4,515 in options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The package: Compact, five-passenger, five-door, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder gasoline- or diesel-powered crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: The third generation of Chevrolet’s Equinox compact crossover arrived for 2018. It was completely redesigned inside and out, with more safety and connectivity/comfort features. Two turbocharged gasoline engines and a turbocharged diesel are available.

Negatives: No third row of seating offered for increased capacity; no V-6 engine offered.

Engine: 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder, gasoline, turbocharged; 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, gasoline, turbocharged; 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, diesel, turbocharged.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic (1.5, 1.6 engines); 9-speed automatic (2.0).

Power/torque: 170 HP./203 foot-pounds (1.5); 252 HP./260 foot-pounds (2.0); 137 HP./240 foot-pounds (diesel).

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 (1.5-liter, front-wheel drive), 24/30/26 (1.5, AWD; 22/29/25 (2.0, front drive), 22/28/24 (2.0, AWD); 28/39/32 (diesel, front drive), 28/38/32 (diesel, AWD).

Fuel capacity/type: 14.9 gallons, regular unleaded or diesel (front drive); 15.6 gallons, regular unleaded or diesel (all-wheel drive).

Base price range: $23,580-$34,435, plus $995 freight.

Price as tested: $38,510, including freight and options (Premier diesel, 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, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Subaru Outback.

On the Road rating: 9.1 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.