Third-gen compact SUV embraces turbocharging
Entering its third generation, Chevrolet’s Equinox has undergone a bumper-to-bumper transformation and gets the honour of becoming the first North American model to offer an exclusively turbocharged powertrain lineup.
Not only has the brand chosen to go in the direction of smaller, more efficient engines, but they have also put the compact crossover on a strict diet, helping it shed approximately 180 kilograms compared to previously.
“There are three reasons for the Equinox being 400 pounds lighter,” said Bruce Young, product planning manager at General Motors, during a recent product launch in Ontario. “We are no longer offering a V6, the front overhang is shorter, and the vehicle is five inches shorter overall.”
The small SUV certainly looks more compact and modern than before, adopting the current design cues seen on the Volt, Malibu and Cruze. The headlamps are now sleek projector units that merge seamlessly with the signature front grille. Certain bodylines, particularly the ones running along the side of the doors, have been softened and smoothed out.
Although the new Equinox is not as long, Young points out interior passenger volume has actually grown slightly rather than shrinking, and cargo capacity is virtually the same thanks to a smart redesign of the spare tire compartment. A lower windshield base gives the driver a more commanding view of the road, and the rear seats feature more articulation to allow for a flat floor when stowed making loading luggage and anything else easier.
There are three engine choices available, and as I mentioned, all are turbo four-cylinder variants: a 170-horsepower 1.5 litre, 252-horsepower 2.0 litre, and a 136-horsepower 1.6 litre diesel. At the media drive, I tested the value-oriented 1.5, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and starts at an affordable price point of $26,996 in front-wheel drive form, while yielding a thrifty fuel consumption rating of 8.3 L/100 km (combined city/highway). To get all-wheel drive, consumers will have to pony up an additional $2,400.
Don’t be concerned too much that the total output of the replacement base mill has been reduced by 12 horses, because torque has grown by 31 lb-ft. Coupled with the dramatic weight loss, I could feel the extra oomph accelerating down the long stretches of Toronto highways.
Ride quality in the Equinox is excellent, both comfortable and quiet. Even the entry-level LS grade is full of features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, push button start, remote start, backup camera, heated front seats and Teen Driver mode allowing guardians to keep tabs on and set limits for younger motorists.
Speccing up can add leather, more paint choices, additional safety technology (rear park assist, blindspot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, etc.) and the list goes on. The Canadian market receives an optional True North package for LT and Premier trim levels bundling USB and 110-volt outlets, panoramic sunroof and upgraded infotainment.
The gasoline-powered 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is in stores now, with the diesel expected to arrive in the fall.
Highlights (as tested)
Motor: 1.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Torque (lb-ft): 203
Gearbox: six-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 8.9 L/100 km mixed city/highway (manufacturer estimate)