2018 Chevrolet Equinox: Leaner and meaner with a new design, increased safety and refined turbo

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Equinox, Chevrolet’s second-best selling vehicle, after the Silverado, enters its third generation in 2018 with a full redesign. The Gen-3 Equinox sheds nearly 400 pounds -- approximately 10 percent of its mass, creating a nimbler, more responsive and more refined driving experience. Combined with this weight loss, the all-new body was designed and optimized for top safety ratings.

An all-new, mass-efficient body structure is at the center of the Equinox’s trimmer curb weight and helps make the most of its available turbo engine options. The sporty Equinox cut 4.7 inches in length to 183.1 inches long; is 72.6 inches wide and is an inch shorter at 65.4 inches high on a 107.3 -inch wheelbase – losing 5.2 inches. The 2.0-liter Turbo AWD crossover I tested weighed in with a curbweight of 3703 lbs., more than 400 pounds lighter than the Equinox I tested last year.

The new body structure is part of all-new expressive styling with sculpted designs that echo what Chevy shows in Volt, Malibu and Cruze. There is also an all-new interior with elements including available denim-style seat fabric that blends high style with durability. New safety features are also available, including Safety Alert Seat, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking and Surround Vision. And Chevrolet’s first all-turbocharged multi-engine propulsion system lineup is in play, including a segment-exclusive turbo-diesel offering a GM-estimated 40 mpg/highway

Packed with amenities inside and out, standard exterior Equinox highlights include projector-beam headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, LED taillamps on uplevel models, a hands-free power liftgate, outside heated power-adjustable and auto-dimming body-color manual-folding mirrors with turn signal indicators and chrome mirror caps, 19-inch ultra-bright aluminum wheels and a chromed dual-outlet exhaust.

Standard Equinox power comes from the choice of a 1.5-liter turbo, 1.6-liter diesel or 2.0-liter turbo engine. The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder is rated at 170hp and 203 lb-ft of torque; the 1.6-diesel is good for 137hp and 240lb-ft; and the 2.0-liter turbo is rated at 252hp and 260 lb-ft.

The 1.5 is EPA rated at 26mpg/city and 32mph/ highway for FWD and 24/30 for AWD 1.6-diesel is GM-estimated at 32/city and 40mpg on the highway for FWD and 31/37 for AWD. The 2.0-liter turbo I tested is EPA-rated at 22mpg in city driving for both FWD and AWD and 28/highway FWD and 27mpg/highway for AWD. My week of driving averaged 24.1mpg.

I found the turbo to be seamless and faster than expected. On the track, my Equinox completed a zero-to-60mph dash in 6.8 seconds (0.4 seconds faster than last year), and maintained its acceleration to finish a quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds. On the road and on uneven surfaces, the Equinox independent MacPherson strut front suspension with specifically tuned coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar and its independent four-link rear with coil springs and trailing arm; stabilizer bar; hydraulic link bushings were tuned for passenger comfort rather than for driver’s feel and precise handling. The hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering could have been sharper, and understeer is common during quick maneuvers, but acceleration is reliable, and the cabin is quiet and calm.

The Equinox cabin is accommodating, and filled with entertainment and function. With seating for five, the interior is slightly tighter than last year, but not by much, with 40 inches of front headroom and 38.5 inches in row two; legroom is 40.9 inches in the row one and 39.7 in the second seats, while shoulder room is 55.8 and 55.3.

Inside, the all-new cabin has a new “kneeling” rear seat features tilting bottom cushions that enable a flat load floor for easier loading. Connectivity technologies include 7- and 8-inch-diagonal MyLink® infotainment systems designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Teen Driver is offered, allowing parents to set controls and review their teen’s driving habits and new available Surround Vision offers 360-degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle. Also inside are leather heated seats with driver memory, dual-zone automatic climate control air conditioning and a rearview auto-dimming mirror.

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox starts at $24,575 for the base L-trim model with the 1.5-liter turbo liter engine in front-wheel-drive; the LS 1.5 bases at $26,595; the LT 1.5 trim starts at $27,795 and the Premier 1.5 starts at $31,795. The LT 2.0L Turbo bases at $30,295, and my test Premier 2.0L Turbo starts at $34,595. The LT 1.6 Turbo Diesel starts at $31,695 with the Premier 1.6L Turbo Diesel starts at $33,995.

My Premier 2.0L Turbo test ride with Jet Black, perforated leather-appointed seat trim, was in all-wheel-drive (which I nearly always recommend), adding $3700. My ride was upgraded with the Sun, Sound and Navigation Package for $2620, that included a Panoramic sunroof, Chevrolet MyLink® Audio system with 8-inch diagonal touch screen and navigation, as well as a Bose® premium 7-speaker system. The Protection Package added $220 for premium all-weather floor mats and rear splash guards; The Hit the Road Package added $995 for roof rack cross rails and molded assist steps; and Remote Start added $275. With Destination Freight charges of $995, my test 2018 Chevrolet Equinox stickered at $42,130, but cash allowances and regional incentives are available to cut that price a bit.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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