Tom Crosby: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox loses weight, gains power

Tom Crosby

Chevrolet hopes to keep driving Equinox’s success for 2018 with a lighter, slightly smaller crossover that is a quicker, more nimble vehicle.

Equinox has become the second best selling vehicle among Chevrolet’s 33 models, second only to the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

This year’s improvements make the Equinox more appealing, with improved fuel economy and a quieter interior due to a stiffened body structure that Chevrolet hopes will bring top ratings in government and insurance industry crash safety tests. Equinox sales slipped last year, so the 2018 model began hitting showrooms months ago.

All three showroom Equinox vehicles have turbo engines and we test-drove top-trim Premier with the most powerful 2.0-liter engine with front-wheel drive (all-wheel is available) above LS and LT trims. A diesel is available and an L model is available only through factory order.

Our two big options were a $2,620 Sun, Sound and Navigation package that included an upgraded Bose 7-speaker system, sunroof and HD radio and a $1,895 Confidence and Convenience Package II that is much needed to acquire top driver safety aids. It added lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree surround vision, and a vibrating driver’s seat for safety alerts that deserve attention. Plus there is a rear seat noise and visual alert to counter leaving a child or animal unremembered when leaving the car. GM’s Teen Driver reporting system, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert are standard. On 19-inch alloy wheels, the ride is composed with independent front strut and independent rear four-link suspension. The stiffer mixed-material body GM is using in new and redesigned models improved handling after a weight loss of 400 plus pounds and a four-inch reduction in length. A nine-speed automatic transmission shifts flawlessly and the stop/start feature’s unnoticeable.

Outside, main profile changes are a flat beltline, more expansive front grill and over/under rear tail lamps with hands-free liftgate. Cargo space is 29.9 cubic inches behind second row seats that fold flat easily and more than double storage space. A shallow hidden tray beneath the cargo floor and above the spare tire complements cabin knick-knack spaces. All seating positions are comfortable – heated/cooled in front and heated in rear seats. Fit and finish is good and an uncluttered, graphically clean 8-inch touchscreen displays eight icons for information drill downs. Audiophiles will like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and other features with GM’s impressive and intuitive MyLink. Visors are extendable.

LIKE: Versatility, handling, ride, quiet, comfort, price

DISLIKE: Safety options needed

BOTTOM LINE: Should challenge previous sales records, nice value

FACT FILE

2018 CHEVROLET EQUINOX FWD PREMIER 2.0T

Base price with destination fee: $34,470 ($39,660 as tested).

Curb weight:  3,536 pounds.

Wheelbase: 107.3 inches.

Length: 183.1 inches.

Width: 72.6 inches.

Engine specs: 2.0-liter, DOHC, I-4, turbo.

Horsepower 252 hp at 5,500 rpm.

Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. at 2,500/4,500 rpm.

Transmission: 9-speed automatic.

EPA rating: 22 mpg city and 29 mpg hwy.

Range: 14.9 gallons, regular

Performance: 0-60 in just over 7 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.

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