It was definitely time for a change.
When we last reviewed the Chevrolet Equinox, we pointed out a couple of important pieces to the story. It has been one of the drivers in sales for Chevrolet. But, what we observed was that it was aging in the face of newer products that offered more style and equipment. Not that the Equinox lacked these things, but it did offer solid value and excellent interior space and versatility.
Meanwhile, Chevrolet went to work on an all-new Equinox. They knew that making a vehicle that remained a “stand out” in design with the right mix of versatility, technology, and safety would make the Equinox more competitive in the hottest automotive segment in this country.
Recently, we had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in the upcountry section of South Carolina into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. What we came away with was not just finding “new roads,” but an all-new approach to the compact SUV.
The first thing we noticed was its vastly improved and sharper design outside. There is a new brand formula for Chevrolet, with sharper lines, concentrated headlamps, a trimmer lower grille, all leading to a sharpened silhouette, including a bend on the side glass at the rear door. The third glass on the side may look familiar to Equinox owners, but it, too, has been sharpened up. The rear end is a radical departure with the tail lamps going horizontally into the tailgate. The tailgate itself offers new textures, as well.
The visual similarities and differences between the “old” and “new” Equinox become obvious when the tape measure is applied. It is now shorter than the previous Equinox; a bit over five inches in the wheelbase and four inches in overall length. The 2018 model shrank by an inch over the 2017 model, while retaining the same width overall. These dimensions are now closer to size of the leaders in its class, namely the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.
Worth noting is the new Equinox’s weight loss of 400 pounds compared to the previous model. This is significant news that will help this SUV’s cause.
These comparisons continue inside of the cabin. While cargo space was reduced by two cubic feet when the second row seats were up, overall cargo space remained the same. Overall passenger volume increased by more than three cubic feet. This translates into a more practical and usable space for passengers and their goods.
Our two testers were the top-of-the-line Premier model, which offered a higher level of luxury than before in an Equinox. It comes down to additional USB charging ports, in particular in the LT and Premier models, and other additions to equipment. There is a cleaner cabin layout that follows new Chevrolet design conventions with a new “floating” touchscreen on top of the center stack and a much cleaner instrument binnacle with a larger and more informative center TFT screen.
Front seats offer improved comfort for fatigue-free driving through our lengthy drive routes. These testers had full-power seats with rake, recline, front, and rear cushion height and lumbar adjustments. Our Equinox Premiers offered a two-tone jet black/brandy upholstery set-up with leather seating and trim on the dashboard. Rear seats were fine, but missing is the rake adjustment from the previous generation. Otherwise, seat comfort and space in the rear was right for even taller passengers.
You expect a Chevrolet to be fully connected between the MyLink infotainment system, OnStar and its 4G LTW Wi-Fi connection. There is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as well.
Under the hood of both testers was the standard 170-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Both testers had a six-speed automatic with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is also available. It felt great on most roads, but this driveline did struggle on on-ramps. While climbing the mountain on the interstate highway, its 203 pound-feet of torque worked hard to get it up and into Asheville. We saw fuel economy range within the mid-20s MPG, hitting a noted high of 27.7 MPG.
The 1.5-liter engine is the initial offering on the Equinox. Later in this model cycle will be the addition of a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel.
One thing we noted while driving the 2018 Equinox was the auto stop-start feature. It seems that Chevrolet was able to make it work without any notice. One will not feel it, and can barely hear it work. However, we were unable to find an easy way to turn this feature off in the Equinox.
Along our route through both South and North Carolina, we were presented with an excellent mix of roads. They ranged from narrow side streets to majestic winding mountain roads, including a section of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. This mix of roads truly provided a serious test of the driving dynamics on the 2018 Equinox.
To our surprise, the 2018 Equinox exhibited major improvements in handling and cornering. It was poised and well-mannered through these twisty switchbacks and country byways. The ride quality was superb, though road noise was present on rougher surfaces. It handled potholes without much feedback to the cabin.
The steering is quite good, with great road response to the wheel and solid action down at the rack. However, it did feel a bit loose and vague when keeping things straight. The brakes are fantastic. Though we did not do any panic stop testing, we liked how the system stopped. We wished the pedals were a bit more offset for our taste.
The one big step for the 2018 Equinox was the expanded availability of active safety features. Surround Vision is all new, taking a further step from beyond a rearview camera. Forward collision alert is coupled with General Motors’ Safety Alert Seat, providing multiple responses to avoiding accidents. These are just to name a few features available on the 2018 Equinox.
Pricing for the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox starts at $23,580 for an L model. Our Premier testers came with an identical sticker price of $37,935.
We thoroughly enjoyed finding “new roads” in the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. It is an enjoyable vehicle to drive and offered plenty of advances and refinements that will make it more competitive in this hot segment of compact SUVs. The new Equinox also represents a huge advance from previous models, offering a lot more in terms of efficiency, safety, and technology in a slightly smaller package.
Is this 2018 Equinox enough to sway consumers set on the product leaders in this hot segment? The Chevrolet’s advantages alone should make a dent on sales of its rivals. It is matter of giving it a good drive to determine this. Maybe, you can “find new roads” in the process of buying or leasing one.