An all-new model for the 2018 model year, the Chevrolet Equinox is vying for best-in-class status in one of the most hotly contested areas of the US new car market. Interior quality, space and day-to-day usability are all improved over the previous car, and positive attributes of its predecessor have been retained almost intact. Base models have a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a six-speed automatic; a 2.0-liter gasoline and 1.6-liter diesel (each with a nine-speed auto) available for buyers who want more power or fuel economy respectively. Cargo capacities, ride quality and visibility aren’t objectively the best in this segment, but very little to differentiate the Chevrolet Equinox from the class-leaders.
The previous-generation Chevrolet Equinox was already a well-rounded family SUV, so its all-new replacement is well positioned to vie for class honors. Whilst the improvements made aren’t quote enough to make it best-in-class, the Chevrolet Equinox isn’t far off the top cars, and is a perfectly enjoyable vehicle to use on a day-to-day basis. Plus, the Chevrolet Equinox also has the honor of being one of only a handful of family SUVs you can buy with an ultra-frugal diesel engine. Bar a few niggles and irritations here and there, there really is a lot to like about this new generation of Chevrolet Equinox.
‘Doesn’t excel in any one area, but comfy, well-made and spacious enough for the needs of most buyers’
Whilst some rivals do beat it in the interior quality front, the Chevrolet Equinox can still hold its own when it comes to fit-and-finish. Soft-touch plastics cover the main areas and the main controls are tactile and pleasant to the touch. Sticking to controls, the standard-fit touchscreen infotainment screen is also easy to operate – though, if we’re being picky, the graphics do look a bit dated.
Regardless of seat materials (cloth on base cars; leather on higher trims), the Chevrolet Equinox has supportive and comfortable chairs, and overall head, shoulder and leg room isn’t far off the best-in-class either. The trunk aperture’s broad too, which in combo with the flat load bay and sizeable trunk space (32.9 cubic feet and 63.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up or down respectively) makes it easy to carry larger, heavier items. A slither of under-floor trunk storage is available too.
The likes of the Mazda CX-5 still hold the class crown for outright dynamism, but the Chevrolet Equinox is still quite a responsive and direct-to-drive car – with the light steering in particular and good all-round visibility making the Chevrolet Equinox relatively easy to place in tighter spots. Likewise, whilst there’s a bit of body lean when cornering, body movement is for the most part well contained and the ride remains supple over rougher surfaces.
‘A comfy, refined family SUV. Visibility’s surprisingly good, too.’
Plus, refinement levels are very good, albeit not accomplished enough to drown out the base engine under hard acceleration. It’s also worth pointing out that, whilst visibility is impressive for the most part, the high dashboard does make it a bit tricky to accurately judge where the front of the Chevrolet Equinox is when parking.
Until recently, only one powertrain was available in the Chevrolet Equinox range: a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a six-speed automatic transmission (other models get a nine-speed auto). Whilst it’s a fine base engine, with decent amounts of power and reasonably good fuel economy, it can sound gruff and feel laboured under harder acceleration from a standstill or on the highway.
As a result, we’re more inclined to recommend the more potent and refined 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine if your budget can accommodate the higher list price and running costs. There’s also an incredibly efficient diesel on offer too, though it’ll likely be of limited appeal. Front-wheel drive can be replaced with all-wheel drive for $1,800 extra.
If it’s bangs-for-your-bucks that you’re after, the Chevrolet Equinox should be on your radars. Base ‘L’ models come with a good array of features, considering the $23,580 starting price includes parts like reversing cameras, Androud Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, climate control and built-in 4G WiFi compatibility).
The sweet spot in the range, however, is the mid-range $27,650 ‘LT’ trim, courtesy of items such as power-adjustable seats, leather trim, parking sensors and blind spot monitoring. Leather upholstery and built-in navigation are exclusively to the range-topping ‘Premier’ spec, sadly. No crash test data is available yet for the Chevrolet Equinox, though the 2018 model year car should retain its 2017 predecessor’s good safety rating.
With its combination of good value, satisfactory running costs (especially for the diesel model), ease of use, accommodating cabin and its easy-to-live-with nature, the Chevolet Equinox is a thoroughly likeable five-seater family SUV. Definitely consider one if you’re in the market for such a car.