2018 Chevrolet Equinox SUV: Finding New Roads

Susan Frissell
www.womenwithwheels.com

Greenville, N.C.-Ashville, S.C., March 23, 2017

Chevrolet seems to be leading the way with its variant lineup, say automotive and consumer media groups. The most awarded car company three years in a row, Chevrolet’s Bolt EV won Motor Trend Magazine’s 2017 Car of the Year.

With new offerings in all categories, new design, safety, performance and fuel efficiency updates, Chevrolet would appear to be offering all things to all people. Regardless of what vehicle you might be interested in, you’ll find it in Chevy’s current lineup.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox
Orange Burst Metallic

And so, it is with the next-generation Chevy Equinox compact SUV. The media were on hand in the beautiful hills of North, and South Carolina in March to test-drive the 2018 Equinox. Completely redesigned, the new sculpted exterior and luxurious interior make the Equinox more than competitive in this very busy category.

Since bringing the Equinox to market, Chevrolet has sold two million units at over 3,000 dealerships. As the 2018 Equinox moves into 2017, there will be two additional engines added to the lineup, a Midnight Edition-available now, and a Redline Edition (coming later in the year).

Such advance features include available Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Surround Vision-using cameras on all sides to provide a 360-degree birds-eye view, and hands-free liftgate, to name a few. Would-be SUV owners will want for little or nothing when taking on the 2018 Equinox. Every angle is covered, including the availability of three turbo engine selections (1.6-liter turbo-diesel, due Summer 2017, 1.5-liter standard turbo, and 2.0-liter-available Summer 2017).

Paired with GM’s 9-speed automatic transmission, efficiency is the name of the game, at an expected 26/32 mpg. with FWD and 24/30 mpg. with AWD. While the Equinox performed just about flawlessly, don’t expect to feel a surge of power off the start line. But no matter. Rather, the increase is gradual and satisfying, performing quietly and smoothly. Highway driving in the new 2018 Equinox is calm and pleasing.

The 2018 compact Chevrolet Equinox has trimmed down, by 400 pounds; as we learned from Chevrolet engineers, was no small feat. A 10-percent weight reduction, while making for more acceptable fuel economy, in no way makes for a “light-weight” vehicle. Instead, the newly redesigned Equinox, feels sturdy and substantial. Chevy utilized lightweight and durable high-strength steel combined with an optimized form.

The new styling is expressive and tweaked with ‘styling echoes,’ similar to its family members the Volt, Cruze and Malibu. It’s clear they are all related, with a curvy body and tapered front end. This is one attractive SUV.

At first look, from the rear, one might think RAV4, but then, don’t most compact SUV’s today resemble one another. Perhaps it is a compliment. The 2018 Equinox has great lines, sultry and sexy, with just the right curves. The Chevrolet Equinox will surprise though, and in fact, took second place (out of seven models), in 2015’s $28,000 Compact SUV Challenge; and even with its previous model design.

While the 2018 version is shorter (by four inches), it has larger interior space. And other improvements include the new touch-screen that tilts upward and is larger. Is it classier? Well, maybe. But for the most part, Chevy seems to want to reuse the same type of button. If you look hard enough, you’ll find areas where money has been saved. But most of the interior is a vast improvement over the previous models.

For instance, the ‘hard’ plastic is history. The dash and doors seem much improved and upgraded.
The loaded Premier trim level includes all the bells and whistles of modern technology, for those who must have it, and include wireless smartphone charging pad, two USB ports in the dashboard, and two under the center armrest, with an additional two, for charging only, in the backseat. There is also a 12-volt and 120-volt household outlets.

The vehicles we drove for the 2-day introduction were all the Premier 1.5T edition, both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. Due to severe, unexpected weather before we arrived in Greenville, SC, half the fleet was ruined by hail storms. We gathered in Greenville, S.C. and headed over the Blue Ridge Parkway and through local towns toward Asheville, N.C. Our weather was a breezy 60-degrees, partly sunny and spring-like.

Chevrolet arranged with Roadtrippers.com to offer four different routes, all with beautiful views and lots to see, culturally, historically and geographically. Various road surfaces were available to drive and picturesque scenery was all around. It’s hard to take a bad picture in the Carolinas and we obliged with great backdrops for the new Equinox.

Most impressive are the interior upgrades in the 2018 Equinox, including some handsome color combos for the seats and dash, fold-flat loading rear seats that tilt forward when seatbacks are lowered, an optional alert seat and rear seat reminder, in addition to heated and available ventilated front and rear seating. The seats were comfortable and fit all sizes, making this a comfortable road vehicle. We especially liked the rear vents that are tied to the climate control system, with driver open and shut capability.

The first time we felt that vibration in the driver’s seat, it jarred us, but it does get one’s attention when crossing over into another lane. When there are other sounds in the cabin-radio, children-one feels the alert and doesn’t miss the sound.

Our test vehicles, in the Premier trim level were well-equipped; the all-wheel-drive models topped out at $39,045 and the front-wheel-drive at $34,940. Similarly well-equipped, the option costs were high: $3,715 on the all-wheel-drive Premier version and $5,255 on the front-wheel-drive Premier 1.5-liter.

The Premier 1.5-l AWD model’s options included the Chevrolet MyLink Nav system, Bose Premium 7-speaker system, HD radio, power sunroof, and 19-inch wheels ($3,320), and a special Cajun Red Tintcoat color ($395). The 1.5-l FWD Premier version came equipped with the Sun, Sound, Navigation Package (as above, $3,320), a Confidence and Convenience II Package with adjustable passenger front seat, and 8-way power w/2 way power lumbar, ventilated driver seat, ventilated passenger seat, heated rear outboard positions, seat, heated steering wheel, low speed forward auto braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, haptic seat, surround vision, and headlamps, intellibeam auto high beam control, $1,895, and front license plate bracket, $40.

Standard equipment on the Premier trim level included ABS, Stabilitrak-stability control system with traction control, tire pressure monitor, dual-stage frontal, driver and right front passenger with passenger sensing system, thorax side-impact seat mounted, driver and right front passenger, head curtain and side front and rear outboard airbags, keyless start/open, teen driver, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert and side blind zone alert.

Also standard are lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low speed forward auto braking, surround vision and forward collision alert. A lot of new technology and safety features not offered as standard equipment in years past.

Additional highlights in the all-newly redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox include such things as standard projector-beam headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, and LED taillamps on higher level models; new available durable denim-style seat fabric, Surround Vision, switchable all-wheel-drive system that disconnects from rear axle when needed, first all-turbocharged multi-engine propulsion system lineup, segment exclusive turbo-diesel, new nine-speed automatic transmission, and new ‘kneeling’ rear seat features that tilt the bottom cushions to enable a flat load floor.

Connectivity technologies are also an upgrade and include a 7-and 8-inch diagonal MyLink infotainment system that support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi. In an attempt to use our OnStar device, we weren’t always successful in engaging it. This has been a problem in the past for this writer. Though it may seem obsolete due to phones, OnStar can still provide services not available through other devices, such as collision alert.

The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox should do well, even with all its competition.

Chevrolet.com/2018Equinox

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-liter Turbocharged i-4 DOHC VVT Direct Injection, 170 hp., 203 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.3 in.
Width: 72.6 in.
Length: 183.1 in.
Height: 65.4 in.
Curb weight: 3,375 lbs., 1.5-liter FWD; 3,540 lbs., 1.5-liter AWD
Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.9 gal., (FWD); 15.6 gal. (AWD)
EPA Fuel economy: 26/32 mpg., FWD; 24/30 mpg., AWD
Wheels: 17, 18 and 19-inch aluminum
Tires:
Warranty: 3 yrs/36,000-miles bumper-to-bumper; 5 yrs/60,000-miles powertrain limited; roadside assistance, courtesy transportation. Chevrolet Complete Care: two maintenance visits, oil, filter change, 4-wheel rotation, 27-point inspection.
Built: Ingersoll, Ontario and other North American facilities
EPA Vehicle Class: Small SUV

The Equinox interior with optional Panoramic roof

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