Preview: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

 

Chevrolet pulled the wraps off its all-new 2018 Equinox compact CUV in Chicago on the eve of September 22. Is it coincidence that this date happens to be the autumnal equinox? Hardly. With this reboot of its cash-cow crossover, the Bow Tie brigade appear to be focused on every detail, be it mechanical, visual, practical or celestial.

The Equinox is Chevrolet’s second-best-seller behind the Silverado pickup, and they are not about to mess up a good thing.

The current Equinox has been around since 2005, and save for a recent cosmetic uptick, it remains mechanically mired in the past. Yet the Equinox still flies off the showroom floor. More than two million have been sold since its launch, and it found about 300,000 homes between Canada and the US just last year. The Equinox is Chevrolet’s second-best-seller behind the Silverado pickup, and they are not about to mess up a good thing.

Stylistically, this second-generation version is immediately identifiable as an Equinox, but it looks more athletic, more sculpted… tidier. Much of this is due to its smaller footprint. Bucking the trend of ever-expanding girth, the 2018 Equinox is 102 mm (four inches) shorter and marginally narrower than the outgoing model. Chevy says passenger room has increased, due to the interior being “shrink-wrapped” closer to the crossover’s exterior skin.

Projector beam headlights and LED running lights are standard. Up-level models get LED tail-lamps, and alloy wheels range from 17 to 19 inches.

More news about the 2018 model: Chevrolet Introduces Diesel-Powered Equinox

The 2018 Equinox rides on an all-new platform with a structure bragging more welds and extensive use of adhesives for increased rigidity. Compared to the 2017 Equinox, this new model drops about 180 kg (400 lb). The Equinox’s chassis engineer says half of that is due to the vehicle’s smaller size, while the other 200 lb savings comes from targeted use of high strength steel along with lighter components and materials. Will we see more vehicles using this platform? Of course, although the Chevy brass are tight-lipped about that right now.

The Equinox’s dash appears to be lifted right out of the Malibu, which is no bad thing. At the top of the centre stack sits either a 7- or 8-inch MyLink infotainment touch screen. The system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and available OnStar provides a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

Sitting in the nicely supportive driver’s chair shows the Equinox to have a low cowl and good forward visibility. The back seats are also generously padded (Ford Escape take note), and with the front seat set for my near-six-foot frame, legroom and headroom behind was more than adequate.

The 60/40-split second row easily folds forward with a low-effort fluid motion, creating a flat floor. There is a good-sized hidden compartment under the floor. This new-gen Equinox’s tidier dimensions means cargo space is reduced – from 892 L to 846 L (behind the rear seat) and from 1,804 L to 1,798 L with the second row folded. By comparison, the Ford Escape offers 971–1,920 L and the Honda CR-V 1,054–2,007 L.

A raft of new radar- and camera-based safety kit is on the menu: surround vision, forward collision alert and auto-braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot alert. Warnings are transmitted to the driver through vibrations in the Safety Alert Seat. Additionally, Rear Seat Reminder warns if a child or dog (or anything else) is left in row two.

The ancient 2.4L naturally aspirated four-cylinder gets ditched for a trio of turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder engines. Two are familiar, and one a surprise. The base 1.5L with six-speed auto makes 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft while an available 2.0L puts out 252 horsepower, 260 lb-ft. and is hooked to a nine-speed auto. The big news here is an available 1.6L turbo-diesel that will come online a few months after the Equinox’s 2017 first-quarter availability. Mated to a six-speed auto, this engine has been doing duty in European Opels for about three years now, and is noted for its efficiency and quiet operation. It generates 136 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, and according to Chevrolet, will have the crossover achieving the magic 40 mpg US (5.9 L/100 km) on the highway.

Kudos to GM for announcing this diesel-sipping SUV almost a year to the day Volkswagen’s Dieselgate mess hit the news. Of course GM’s diesel is cleaned up via AdBlue urea exhaust treatment, of course it will reduce the owner’s fuel bills, and of course it will demand a premium over the gas models. What isn’t certain is whether the American buyers will embrace what will surely be a desirable iteration of the new Equinox.

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox will be built in Ingersoll, Ontario and initially launch with the 170 hp 1.5L four, with the 2.0L gas and 1.6L diesel engines to follow. Look for it in the spring of 2017.

Tidy packaging, competitive tech, and a turbodiesel surprise 10/11/2016 6:00:00 AM