The 2017 model year was strong for CUVs/SUVs, but brutal for passenger car sales. If you want to grow share and profits – SUVs are the way to go – and manufacturers are pumping money into these vehicles. Chevrolet’s crystal ball was accurate when they started work on remaking the Equinox early enough that it’s hitting the market at just the right time.
I tested a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier trimmed version. The Equinox comes in AWD and FWD versions with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 1.6-L turbodiesel, and a 1.5-L turbo engine. My test car was powered by the 2.0-L with AWD. Power was routed through a 6-speed automatic that always shifts the best (highest) gear for mileage – which works most of the time.
This time around, the Equinox is 400 pounds lighter than the 2017 model it replaces. Through the use of smarter chassis components, the bonding of components together and build design – combined with a lighter 4-cylinder turbo-only engine, Chevrolet engineering teams were able to cut the weight.
The interior is initially appealing in LT trim, but the Premier model, with dual-power two-tone leather, heated/ventilated seating and tasteful chrome accented knobs/switches is even better. I did like the functions and positioning (no glare) of the infotainment screen. All the expected convenience controls are there bolstered with MyLink audio, 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, apple/android capability, 4GLTE WiFi, and a rich audio system.
Interior hard plastic pieces appear on mid-level and lower panels/pieces. The monotone color scheme of my tester, combined with the hard plastic pieces, created a cold impression that need soft additional comfort designed, or built in.
Seating is comparable to competitors. In the rear, folding seats have two recline positions, outboard positions are heated – but lack thigh bolstering. Cargo room is good at 63.5 cubic feet (rear seats folded) and there is some shallow, cargo floor space along with a space saver tire (thankfully) instead of an inflator kit.
On the road, Equinox displayed slightly different personalities. On city streets, it was nimble and very easy to park. The ride was well dampened and acceleration was good. On the highway, the 2.0-L is the way to go with the best acceleration of the trio.
The programming of the drive-by-wire 6-speed transmission does not offer any performance settings or Performance Algorithm Shift Learning that I could detect. Power shifting is not an option and there isn’t a redline on the tach (surprising). Electric steering is a necessity and it made quick moves easy, but it did not provide any meaningful road feel.
The suspension set up is an Independent MacPherson strut with sideloaded modules, coil springs and direct acting stabilizer bar up front. In the rear Chevy specified an Independent four-link with coil springs and trailing arm, stabilizer bar.
Overall, Equinox’s pluses include zero torque steer and segment-competitive handling. Grip is maintained with 18-inch tires for LT trim level models. To stay competitive, Chevrolet had to start with a clean sheet from the wheels up. The weight reduction, strengthened body structure and fresh design help to reinvigorate it.
Chevrolet has a lot riding on this latest version, as Equinox sales have reached nearly 2 million since its launch and it is Chevrolet’s second-best selling vehicle, behind the Silverado. There are still some refinements to be addressed, but the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is solidly in the game.