2018 Chevrolet Equinox

MIAMI — The Equinox served as Chevrolet’s first venture into the crossover market when it was introduced over a decade ago, and after years of producing truck-based SUVs, it looks like Chevy made a wise decision. The Equinox is now the company's best-seller behind only the Silverado pickup with nearly 2 million sold since its introduction as a 2005 model. With the improvements made for 2018, it figures to maintain that pace.

First though, I want to mention this. One of the more surprising things about the Equinox to me was that it is classified as a compact crossover.

Certainly the dimensions -— an overall length of 183.1 inches, width of 72.6 and height of 65.4 compared to 204.3/78.6/67.3 for Chevy’s Traverse — would seem to validate that classification. It is about 400 pounds lighter and just under five inches shorter than its predecessor.

Just looking at it sitting in my driveway, however, I got the impression it was simply bigger than that. It also looked nice sitting there.

Chevy says that designers borrowed some styling cues from the Volt, Malibu, and Cruze and included new touches for the interior that included denim-style fabric for the seats that not only looks good but has increased durability. Among new safety features offered are the Safety Alert Seat system that alerts a driver to the possibility of an impending crash, low-speed forward automatic braking, and surround vision.

A major change is under the hood.

The base engine for the 2018 Equinox is a 1.5-liter turbo-4, and a 2.0-liter serves as an option. A 1.6-liter turbo diesel also is offered. Those engines replace the 2.4L inline-4 and the 3.6L V6 offered on 2017 models.

The 1.5L and the diesel come with a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2.0L with a new nine-speed that makes for a smooth operation. All-wheel drive also is available

The new powertrain offers fuel efficiency of 26 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway with the 1.5L FWD and 22/29 with the 2.0L, also with FWD. AWD alters the figures slightly, and the diesel gets up to a GM-estimated 40 mpg.

Those figures are somewhat of an improvement over the numbers for the 2017 model that came with either a 2.4L inline-4 or a 3.6L V6.

The biggest difference with the turbo 4s comes in the power put out by the 2.0L. It is rated at 252 horsepower, an increase of 70 hp over the 2017's 2.4 in-line-4. With 203 pound-feet of torque, the 2018 2.0L turbo-4 rates the same towing capacity of 3,500 pounds as the 2017's V6. That'll tow your boat.

Chevy offers the Equinox in L (though you'll likely have to order it), LS, and LT (1LT/1.5L, 2LT/2.0L) trims as well as Premier editions (1LZ/1.5, 2LZ/2.0L0,) and diesel versions designated 3LT/diesel and Premier 3LZ/diesel).

I don't know about you but I find all the trim levels and various models Chevy puts out sometimes hard to keep track of, but that's a subject for another day.

I drove the LT 2.0T with FWD for the week and found it really satisfies a lot of what you would be shopping for in the compact crossover market. The cloth seats were comfortable and looked to be pretty durable, though it's hard to really test them in just seven days.

I didn't do any towing, but I found the power to be very adequate for daily driving, and the fuel mileage is pretty good for its class, especially with the 1.5L engine. That said, I would sacrifice the couple of extra miles the 1.5L gets for the power boost from the 2.0L. Horsepower and torque for the smaller engine are only 170 hp and 203 lb.-ft. or 82 and 57, respectively, less than the 2.0L.

The list of standard features included in the $29,145 MSRP of the LT 2.0L included keyless entry and start, HID headlamps, LED daytime running lights, trailering equipment, 18-inch aluminum wheels, 8-way power adjustable driver's seat with 2-way lumbar support, and connectivity features that included Chevy MyLink with a 7-inch screen, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

Options that included dual-zone A/C over the standard single zone, power liftgate, remote start, heated front seats, blind spot and rear cross traffic alert,
rear park assist and a pearl white tricoat paint job, plus the $895 destination and delivery charge, ran the final MSRP of my test vehicle to $32,980.

What I liked about the 2018 Chevy Equinox LT 2.0T — I liked the way it drove on the highway. It accelerated with no grunting and was quiet overall. And I really liked the big storage area in the center console. Crossovers and SUVs are about carrying stuff as well as getting you there, and storage, even in the console, is no place to skimp.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Chevy Equinox LT 2.0T — A stop-start system that shuts off the engine when you are idling at an intersection is standard, and you can't turn it off. At least I couldn't find a button to disengage it, and the owner's manual offered no clue. What you can do to disengage is take a slight bit of pressure off the brake and the engine fires back up.

Would I buy the 2018 Chevy Equinox LT 2.0T? Frankly, I went into the week thinking I probably would not, but yes, I would give it consideration now. I would like to see Chevy continue making upgrades to the interior, which it has gone over the last decade or so. Some more soft-touch materials would be nice like across the dash panel. A bit more cargo space than the 29.9 cubic feet offered behind the second row could make the deal.

— Paul Borden