If you’re looking to buy or lease a new compact crossover, now is definitely a great time to be in the market, and the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox might be your best choice. Going up against rivals like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, the third-generation Chevrolet Equinox should prove to be a heavy hitter in this popular, high-volume segment with better styling, more cabin tech and, the Equinox’s ace in the whole, a trio of distinct engine options.
It’s almost an understatement to say that, since the launch of the new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, this crossover is not only the second-best-selling vehicle in the entire GM portfolio (behind only the Chevrolet Silverado) but it is also positioned in one of the most popular and highly competitive segments that is still in growth mode. With the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox just recently hitting showrooms, Chevrolet brought me up to the winding roads of the Carolinas to spend a couple days behind the wheel of its latest crossover.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Exterior:
One thing the previous two generations of this crossover lacked was a stand-out design, and the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox changes that. The exterior is the latest take on Chevrolet’s design language that ranges from everything from the Chevrolet Spark to the upcoming Traverse crossover. On all of these vehicles, the bold front end design is the most crucial element, and the face of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox follows suit with large, jutting grille and narrow headlights. The rest of the design features good use of lines and creases, but the tall, boxy roofline and squared-off rear end give a less exciting view of the crossover.
For this event, Chevrolet only had the Equinox Premier available for testing, and this top trim is spiced up with lots of chrome on the mirrors, door handles, window trim and roof rack. This tester came with the Premier’s standard 18-inch Y-spoke wheels, but there is an option available for 19-inch wheels. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is available in 11 different paint colors including the Orange Burst Metallic (a $395 option) shown on this model.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Interior:
Since its debut in 2005, the Equinox has always been an up-sized offering in the compact crossover segment with dimensions large enough to qualify it as a mid-size vehicle, but the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox sees this crossover shrink in size to match its rivals. Despite its smaller dimensions (overall passenger volume dropped by 24 cubic feet!), interior accommodations haven’t changed all that much. Headroom and legroom are still comparable to the 2017 Equinox, but opting for the panoramic sunroof does take almost two inches from front and rear headroom. Even the cargo capacity (29.9 cubic feet with the seats up and 63.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat) is surprisingly close to last year’s model. The smaller cabin (103.2 cubic feet) is only slightly smaller than the new Honda CR-V and is roomier than the Toyota RAV4.
When it comes to design, the interior of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox isn’t as cutting edge as say the CR-V or the Hyundai Tucson. Instead, like the exterior, it looks and feels very similar to other Chevrolet products, so if you’re familiar with the operation of anything from the Silverado and Suburban down to the Malibu and Cruze, you’re definitely going to have an easy time getting familiarized with the new Equinox. This includes the design cues such as the Camaro-esque dual brow instrument panel design as well as the overall layout of the gauges and buttons right down to the rubber steering wheel buttons. To keep pace with the more luxurious options for compact crossovers, the Premier trim level comes standard with leather seats, heated front seats, hands-free power liftgate and a large, touch-screen display.
One telling trend of the modern automotive market that is obvious inside the new Equinox is that charging/connectivity ports are to today’s cars what cupholders were in the ’80s and ’90s as the five-passenger Equinox offers 10 plugs and ports throughout the cabin – front passengers get two USB charging ports, a wireless conductive smartphone charger and a charging outlet under the center stack and two more USB ports in the center console, while rear seat passengers get two more USB ports (higher output for better charging), another charging outlet and a three-prong outlet
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Powertrain:
The biggest competitive advantage that the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox will have is its broad powertrain lineup. Upon its launch recently, the Equinox is only offered with a 1.5-liter turbocharged and direct-injected inline-four rated at 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque to go along with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of up to 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway** (all-wheel drive drops each figure by 2 mpg). For crossover buyers looking for better performance or fuel economy, Chevrolet will be adding two engines to the Equinox this summer: a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected inline-four as well as an efficient 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel. The base 1.5-liter engine and the diesel are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, but the 2.0-liter will get the nine-speed automatic. During one leg of the drive through twisty, Carolina back roads, I was able to return an impressive 29.6 mpg (with an all-wheel drive model), but my two-day average hovered closer to 26 mpg
One hallmark of the Chevrolet Equinox over the years has been its smooth, refined ride and quiet interior, and the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Premier has upped the game. To go along with its smaller stature, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox went on a diet to shed 437 pounds compared to the base 2017 Equinox, which allows the crossover to be more agile. That being said, the fun mountainous roads did help to showcase the improved chassis and quieter interior, it did reveal that this engine is grossly underpowered. Under moderate grades, the engine felt overworked and acceleration was lackluster, but that probably won’t be the case with the bigger engine options. And speaking of these upcoming engines, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder will have the same 3,500-pound capacity as the previous Equinox’s 3.6-liter V-6, and this is far higher than the 1,500-pound max ratings of the RAV4 and CR-V (Chevrolet has not released tow ratings for the base or diesel engines).
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Safety:
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but when it does, expect to see top marks for safety. Until then, you can be comfortable driving the new Equinox thanks to the latest in advanced safety technologies (standard on the Premier) like the Rear Cross Traffic Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Seat Reminder, Surround Vision backup camera, Forward Collision Alert, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Overall:
After two days spent driving the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, it’s easy to see that this crossover is a force to be reckoned with in the lucrative compact crossover segment and should be enough to give the class-leading Honda CR-V a run for its money. The base Equinox L trim level starts at just $24,475*, but checking all of the option boxes on an already loaded up Equinox Premier AWD resulted in a staggering as-tested price of $39,045, and keep in mind, that’s with the standard engine! If nothing else, this budget-busting price tag does show that the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is ready to take on any competition.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Chevrolet dealership and test drive the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.