“2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD”
Fresh New Design and Technologies
The Chevrolet Equinox is the second best selling vehicle after Chevy’s Silverado trucks, with nearly 2 million sold to date. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox steps onto the playing field ready to shine with an all-new look and improved aerodynamic features and styling cues that not only enhance the lineup’s appearance, but operational efficiency as well.
The Equinox continues as a compact crossover from Chevrolet that is suitable for all weather conditions and seasons, serving a variety of lifestyle levels. It would not be out of line to think of the Equinox as a smaller sibling of the Chevy Traverse.
The Equinox used to come with a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter Direct fuel Injected inline four-cylinder that produced 182 horsepower and 172 pound feet of torque; or a 3.6-liter, 301 horsepower Direct Injection V6. Both engines were mated to a specific 6-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission. There is an auto start/stop feature, and unfortunately there is no way to override it, but it is relatively non-intrusive.
This latest compact Chevrolet Equinox will be available in four trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier, all in either FWD or AWD configurations.
Power will now come from one of three front, transversely mounted, turbocharged engines. Available at launch will be the standard 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with VVT and Direct Injection that produces 170 horsepower at 5,600 rpm along with 203 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,000-4,000 rpm. Energy will reach the driving wheels via a Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic transmission. Optional 2.0L Turbo and diesel engine variants will become available in the second quarter of 2017. The 2.0L engine will be coupled to GM’s new nine-speed automatic transmission.
The goal of the Equinox development team was to create an all-new compact SUV that represented the perfect balance of style, function and efficiency. Jeff Perkins, Equinox design manager points out that “Working closely with the aerodynamics team, we were able to craft a final design that is the ultimate win-win scenario, and together we reached the aerodynamic goals intended to give the new Equinox an efficiency-enhancing edge on the highway with the sculpted look and cargo space we set out to achieve.”
The 2018 Equinox offers an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the highway (FWD models).
The engineering and design teams focused on developing a refined new vehicle shape that maintained the key proportions of a small crossover/SUV, in addition to delivering the utility and functionality that customers in the segment look for. The Equinox’s exterior expresses a lean, sculpted form sporting Chevrolet’s signature styling cues. The new Equinox’s expressive exterior display a lean, muscular skin reflecting global Chevrolet design cues and sculpted shapes evident in the Volt, Malibu and Cruze. It is a richer, more detailed design featuring chrome trim on all models and Malibu-inspired styling. Projector-beam headlamps are standard, along with LED daytime running lamps. At the rear, horizontal taillamps emphasize the Equinox’s wide stance, while uplevel models feature LED taillamps.
The new Equinox’s overall length was reduced by 4.7 inches to deliver the right-size vehicle, making it easier to park and maneuver. Despite the smaller exterior dimensions, interior volume is increased by 3.5 cubic feet. More than 500 hours in GM’s full-scale wind tunnel produced an exterior that not only maintained the essence of the intended design, but reduced wind resistance by 10 percent over the previous model.
New, electronically controlled upper and lower grille shutters contribute to the greater aero performance, closing in conditions on the highway, when engine-cooling needs are reduced, pushing more air around the vehicle thereby reducing drag. Other “aero” factors include: the larger rear spoiler, designed to help reduce turbulence at the rear of the vehicle for less wind resistance; at the rear corner a series of “air trips,” are incorporated for optimal air separation at the edges of the taillamps and corners at the D-pillars; new tire deflectors aid in achieving the same aerodynamic advantage as a traditional air dam without compromising the Equinox’s sculpted design form; and underbody panels on FWD models improve airflow beneath the vehicle.
The 2018 Equinox is a fresh and modern compact SUV, featuring an expressive design, increased cargo space, the latest connectivity, and expanded roster of available safety features. The increased cargo area comes with new storage features such as a large, hidden underfloor storage space and a flat cargo floor that makes loading and unloading easier. Purposeful technologies are included to increase passenger’s safety and to enhance comfort and connectivity. Teen Driver is also offered, along with new safety features such as Safety Alert Seat, Surround Vision, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator and more.
The Equinox’s all-new architecture allows the interior to take advantage of the additional space and to offer a down-and-away instrument panel, while the low windshield base provides a commanding outward view. New elements such as available denim-style seat fabric blend style with high-durability, while a new “kneeling” rear seat enhances functionality. With it, the bottom cushions tilt forward when the split-folding seatbacks are lowered, yielding a flat floor for easier loading.
To showcase this latest Chevrolet Equinox in a real world application, the Bowtie team put together a media drive – Find Your Own Road” wherein teams of automotive journalists were given a choice of six different drive routes from Greenville, South Carolina to Ashville, North Carolina and back with pre-selected points of interest along the way. Journalists were allowed to mix and match sites among the various routes along the way, putting the Equinox through its paces.
My drive partner and I drew a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox AWD Premier 1.5T for the first leg of our quest. It sported a Cajun Red Metallic Tintcoat exterior and came with a Medium Ash Gray interior. The base sticker was set at $34,435., while the Sun, Sound and Navigation Package, Tintcoat paint and Destination Charge elevated the final sticker to $39,045. The return leg of our journey was completed in a FWD drive version Equinox finished outside in Silver Ice Metallic and inside in the same Medium Ash Gray. Its base price was $30,790. And the final sticker read $36,940 after factoring in the Sun, Sound and Navigation Package, Confidence and Convenience Package II, front license plate bracket and Destination Charge.
SUMMARY: These latest iteration Equinox models tested, performed admirably on all counts, covering virtually all driving scenarios from scenic, twisting country back roads to high speed freeways, with congested urban traffic thrown in for good measure. The weather changed from hot and humid to cold rain and hail, and back to sunny landscapes.
Heated and ventilated front seats, fold flat rear seats, keyless – foot operated rear gate, panoramic sunroof, surround vision, 4G LTE WI-FI and user interface intuitive added to the convenience and practicality along with the pleasantly intuitive Interior controls and switchgear. Connectivity included the MyLink infotainment system designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
GM’s Teen Driver program is available, which allows parents to set controls through the use of multiple specific keys. The system automatically activates certain safety features and allows the setting of some specific features while limiting the use of others and reviews via a Report Card feature that records vehicle data regarding driving behavior, in order to encourage better driving habits, even when parents are not in the vehicle. Probably not a bad idea for some parents as well.
The new Equinox is stable, handles with agility and positive steering feel and rides smoothly. The paddle shifters work well and without hesitation. The ride quality is firm but smooth and acceleration is brisk with no noticeable turbo lag.
The 2018 Chevy Equinox in Premier trim with the 1.5T four-cylinder engine is an ideally sized compact SUV and it is reasonably efficient. The 2.0T or diesel powered models might suit some consumers more, but they weren’t available for the “Find Your Own Road” program.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD
Base Price: $34,435.
Price as Tested: $39,045.
Engine Type and Size: 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged inline four-cylinder with VVT and Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 170 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 203 @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / AWD
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with side- loaded modules, coil springs and direct acting stabilizer bar.
Rear – Independent four-link with coil springs and trailing arm and stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs with Duralife rotors and low drag calipers, ABS, ESC, and Stabilitrak with Traction Control.
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 – 235/50 R19 mounted on 5-“V”-spoke Silver painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 107.3 inches
Length Overall: 183.1 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Height: 65.4 inches
Curb Weight: 3,540 lbs.
Turning Circle: 20.0 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 15.6 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 24 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.