Review: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox proves less is more – Detroit Free Press
Less is more as compact SUV sheds weight, adds features.
Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press
Chevrolet has been performing magic lately, making hundreds of pounds of vehicles’ weight disappear without reducing their comfort or features. The ★★★★ 2018 Equinox compact SUV may be its best trick yet.
The new Equinox shed 400 pounds and 4.7 inches versus its predecessor, but it remains one of the most accommodating and best-equipped vehicles in the red-hot compact SUV class.
The Equinox is all new for 2018, and engineered to face some of the auto industry’s fiercest competition. Compact SUV sales rose 73% in the past five years to 2.6 million last year. It’s America’s top selling vehicle class.
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The Equinox faces the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Tucson, Kia Sportage and Sorento, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Equinox prices start at par with the old 2017 model, rising to among the highest in its class.
A base front-wheel drive model starts at $23,580. All Equinoxes currently come with a peppy 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic engine. A more powerful 2.0L turbo, fuel-saving 1.6L diesel and nine-speed automatic transmission all join the lineup later this year.
Chevy hasn’t announced pricing for all models yet, but all-wheel drive currently starts at $27,260.
I tested a top of the line AWD Equinox Premier with leather upholstery, 19-inch aluminum wheels, navigation, front collision alert, low-speed autonomous front emergency braking, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, surround vision cameras, heated and cooled front seats, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts, a large sunroof and more. It stickered at $38,750. All prices exclude destination charges. That’s a price born in confidence, and the end’s not in sight. Equinox prices will probably top $40,000 when the new engines, transmission and other goodies like adaptive cruise control are available.
Even with ambitious pricing, Equinox’s features, comfort, performance and fuel economy make it a leader in its class.
I drove close to a thousand miles from Greenville, S.C., to Detroit and enjoyed every minute. The 1.5L engine provided plenty of power to reach highway speeds on short ramps, pass in the mountains and zip around town. The engine produces 170 horsepower at 5,600 r.p.m. and 203 lb-ft of torque from 2,000-4,000 r.p.m.
The horsepower is at the low end of its class, but the Equinox makes up for that with strong torque delivered over a broad range of r.p.m.
The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. The steering and suspension were a pleasant surprise on twisty secondary roads in the Smoky Mountains. The steering provides good feedback and on-center feel, while the suspension kept the Equinox planted and stable.
You have to press a button on the center console to engage AWD, a feature that reduces fuel consumption slightly. If you live in an area prone to freezing temperatures, I’d recommend turning it on when the weather turns in winter and leaving AWD engaged til spring.
The AWD model scored 24 m.p.g. in the city, 30 on the highway and 26 combined in EPA tests. That beats comparably powered and priced models of the Escape, Santa Fe Sportage
The interior is roomy, with plenty of storage for phones, sunglasses, cups and the like; the center console is wider than previous Equinox, creating a wide and comfortable arm rest for the front seat. The materials are attractive with soft-touch paint and other padded surfaces. My test car had two-tone black and grey leather upholstery and low-gloss chrome trim. The front seat was very comfortable on a nine-plus hour drive.
The controls are blessedly simple and easy to use, with buttons and dials for audio and climate controls. The touch screen and voice recognition work well for other features, and Apple CarPlay gave easy hands-free access to my smart phone’s features.
Passenger space is among the class leaders. Cargo space is less generous, but competitive.
The styling is sleek, with a low hood and sculpted sides that create a clear family resemblance with Chevy’s Malibu midsize sedan.
The Equinox’s magic isn’t strong enough to make its competitors vanish, but Chevy has pulled one rabbit out of its hat: A compact SUV that’s as good as anything on the road.
Contact Mark Phelan: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
Behind the Wheel
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD
All-wheel-drive five-passenger compact SUV
Price as tested: $38,750 (excluding destination charge)
Rating: ★★★★ (Out of four stars)
Reasons to buy: Features; comfort; looks
Shortcomings: Fuel economy; price
Competitive EPA fuel economy ratings
(All-wheel-drive, automatic transmission models)
Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD: 24 mpg city/30 highway/26 combined. Regular gasoline.
Ford Escape Titanium 1.5L AWD: 22/28/24. Regular gasoline.
Honda CR-V 1.5L Touring 4WD: 27/33/29. Regular gasoline.
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD: 19/24/21. Regular gasoline.
Kia Sportage EX AWD: 25/32/2. Regular gasoline.
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD: 23/29/26. Regular gasoline.
Nissan Rogue SL AWD: 25/32/27. Regular gasoline.
Subaru Forester 2.5 Touring: 26/32/28. Regular gasoline.
Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD: 22/28/25. Regular gasoline.
Comparative base prices (excluding destination charges)
(All-wheel-drive, automatic transmission models)
Chevrolet Equinox Premier AWD: $34,435
Ford Escape Titanium 1.5L AWD: $31,000
Honda CR-V 1.5L Touring 4WD: $33,695
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD: $33,450
Kia Sportage EX AWD: $27,200
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD: $30,695
Nissan Rogue SL AWD: $31,310
Subaru Forester 2.5 Touring: $31,295
Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD: $36,150
Specifications as tested
Engine: 1.5L 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder
Power: 170 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 203 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.3 inches
Length: 183.1 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Height: 65.4 inches
Curb Weight: 3,540 lbs.
Where assembled: Ingersoll, Ontario
Key features on vehicle tested
Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control, front seat side air bags; curtain air bags; curtain air bags; keyless entry; push button start; surround vision cameras; teen driver; rear park assist; blind spot and cross traffic alert; forward collision alert; low-speed front automatic braking; lane departure alert and assist; LED headlights; LED daytime running lights; LED tail lights; power tailgate; remote start; tinted rear glass; leather seat trim; power front seats; memory for driver settings; power windows, locks and mirrors; heated and ventilated front seats; split folding rear seat; heated rear outboard seats; dual zone automatic climate control; heated steering wheel; leather wrap steering wheel; steering wheel controls; wireless device charging; 8-inch color touch screen; Bluetooth compatible; OnStar with five year basic plan; trial service 4G LTE hotspot; SM radio trial period; four USB ports, 12v outlet, Apple CarPlay; Android Auto.
Options: Power sun roof; 19-in. machined alloy wheels; navigation;
Bose seven speaker audio; HD radio; Iridescent Pearl tricoat paint.