Completely redesigned, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox compact crossover SUV has shrunk and lost weight when compared with the first-generation Equinox. Despite losing 5.2 inches in wheelbase and 4.7 inches in overall length, interior space is only slightly smaller. The 2018 Equinox weighs about 400 pounds less than its predecessor.
While the previous-generation model was aging and outmoded, the 2018 Equinox is updated in just about every way. In addition to bolder styling, the latest version is better-equipped. Equinox has turned into a more solid, stylish, and capable vehicle. Stylish denim-like seat upholstery is an option.
Four trim levels are offered for 2018: Equinox L, LS, LT, and Premier. Chevrolet first offered only the 1.5-liter four-cylinder base engine. A 2.0-liter gasoline engine then became optional, to be joined by a 1.6-liter diesel. All three engines are turbocharged.
The 1.5-liter engine develops 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, versus 182 hp and 174 pound-feet for the 2.4-liter unit that it replaces. Peak torque starts at 2000 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission is used.
Available for Equinox LT and Equinox Premier, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, driving GM’s 9-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-liter turbodiesel delivers 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet to a 6-speed automatic, promising fuel economy near 40 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
In its new form, Chevrolet Equinox competes against such compact crossovers as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4.
Active-safety features and comfort options are available, but mostly limited to top trim levels. All Equinox models include a rearview camera. HID headlights are standard on LT trim, while the Premier edition gets Intellibeam bending headlights. Standard Teen Driver technology can report on behavior of a young driver, while preventing deactivation of safety features.
An optional package for LT trim includes rear parking sensors, plus blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Picking a Premier edition with the Confidence and Convenience II Package is the only way to obtain forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
Equinox L ($23,580), offered only with front-wheel drive, comes with a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, MyLink 7.0-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, 4G LTE wi-fi, active noise cancellation, and 17-inch alloy wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $945 destination charge.)
Equinox LS ($25,510) adds a compact spare tire, carpeted rear mats, and a compass. All-wheel drive is available ($1,750).
Equinox LT ($26,750) includes a power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, heated power mirrors, HID headlights, and second-row seat release levers. All-wheel drive is available ($1,750). A Confidence and Convenience Package for LT ($1,945) includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, and a power liftgate.
Equinox Premier ($30,790) comes with heated leather front seats, driver’s memory, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, auto-dimming mirrors, luggage rack, LED headlights and taillights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a hands-free power liftgate. All-wheel drive ($3,645) is available.
Slimmed down in its 2018 form, the Equinox has adopted a more assertive aura. Up front, however, the fascia is likely to draw both favorable and negative responses. The minivan-like back end might not please everyone, either.
A chromed lower surround splits the integrated, one-piece grille. A subtle line extends rearward from the arch of the front wheel well, dividing within the front door. One branch melds into the rear wheel’s arch, while the other reaches back to the taillights. Rear pillars angle forward aggressively, while rear side windows wrap into the back glass.
The Equinox cabin comes across as clean-looking and attractive, but it lags behind major competitors in both style and quality of materials. Front seats are better than before, though snug.
Back-seat riders can expect spacious comfort, with ample room for heads and legs. Two adult occupants shouldn’t feel crowded, and three can fit â€“ preferably for shorter journeys. Entry/exit isn’t difficult, because rear doors open sufficiently wide.
Both hard and soft-touch plastics abound, except in top Premium trim. That version expands its standard leather upholstery onto inserts within the dashboard and doors.
Available denim-style fabric upholstery delivers surprising comfort, if snugger than seats trimmed in leather. In size and heft, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is especially satisfying.
Despite the tall, expansive opening for loading cargo, available space is smaller than the previous Equinox provided. With seatbacks upright, volume is 29.9 cubic feet, versus 63.5 cubic feet when they’re folded flat.
Performance of the 1.5-liter base engine is solid and efficient, helped by turbocharging. Clearly, it’s more impressive than the 2.4-liter engine in the previous Equinox. The 1.5-liter is quieter, too, emitting a refined exhaust sound and a touch of turbo whistling when pushed. Because peak engine torque is readily available, a base-engine Equinox can take on upgrades with little hesitation.
Chevrolet’s 6-speed automatic transmission is less appealing, especially when shifting manually. Even if the additional power from the optional 2.0-liter engine isn’t essential, it gets a slicker 9-speed automatic rather than the older 6-speed. Upshifts occur smoothly, while little gear-hunting occurs during downshifting.
Passengers can anticipate a quiet, comfortable ride, remaining composed even on undulating pavement.
Feedback from pavement surfaces is minimal, but that’s hardly uncommon among crossovers. Body motions are more noticeable than a Mazda CX-5 would transmit, but handling capability of the Equinox ranks as adequate. Standard 17-inch tires may yield an uneasy driving experience at times.
Pavement rumble and roar are mostly muted, regardless of tire choice. Wind noise, in contrast, can be a problem. Though pleasing to some ears, the sound of the 1.5-liter engine might be considered intrusive by others.
Base-engine fuel economy isn’t class-leading, but tolerable. The 1.5-liter version is EPA-rated at 26/32 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 24/30/26 mpg.
Fuel-efficiency sinks with the optional 2.0-liter engine, which is EPA-rated at 22/29 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops that estimate to 22/28/24 mpg. Chevrolet claims the front-drive Equinox Diesel should achieve 40 mpg in highway driving.
In addition to welcome reductions in dimensions and weight, without sacrificing cabin space, the 2018 Equinox has gained standard equipment. Altogether, it’s now a more satisfying and capable crossover. As is often the case, active-safety features are limited to top trim levels. Best bet might be an Equinox LT with the Confidence and Convenience Package.
Driving impressions by Brandon Turkus, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.