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2018 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T AWD Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Chevrolet, SUV, Test Drives

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Chevrolet has had a long standing in the foray of building and selling compact crossover utility vehicles, and with today’s record-breaking SUV and crossover sales, the newest Equinox gets a new lease on life to attract the massive influx of buyers. Receiving a full redesign for the 2018 model year, the new Equinox captures the newfound hearts of the masses to serve up many powertrains and configurations to suit the needs for those seeking a compact crossover that doesn’t compromise with its segment-size-busting accommodations.

>> Get the best price on the Chevrolet Equinox from a network of local dealers now. <<

The new Chevrolet Equinox plays to a tune for those who are more cost conscious but don’t wish to compromise on the all that a crossover is supposed to provide in versatility and spaciousness even with a compact-size classification. There was a time that I balked at the idea of even driving a Chevrolet Equinox because I believed it didn’t live up to the expectations that a compact crossover should. However, with the 2018 model year redesign and after a full week in the newly redesigned 2018 Equinox, Chevrolet has somewhat improved to regain my attention for a quick once-over.

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Powering the new Chevrolet Equinox is a series of familiar engines from the brand, a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque, a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel 4-cylinder with 137 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. In my test vehicle, Chevrolet cleverly mates the higher output powertrain to a new 9-speed automatic transmission to better make use of its available 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Optionally, the power is sent to all four wheels or the front wheels at the toggle of an AWD button in front of the shifter. Chevrolet’s use of such a simple feature has paid off well in other GM vehicles to yield better gas mileage by uncoupling the rear wheels or enabling all four at the push of a button. Use of the all-wheel-drive system by pressing the button continues to transmit most of the power up front as the front wheels sometimes break loose upon hard acceleration out of a turn.

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The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the new Equinox, an optional powertrain choice for my LT-trimmed test vehicle, has decent power down low where the turbocharger spools up quick enough to eliminate lag. At the middle of the row trim level, my Equinox LT 2.0L Turbo test vehicle and its 9-speed automatic transmission do a decent job to keep things on pace and appease light-hearted enthusiasts. For the most part, the Equinox 2.0L Turbo feels nicely planted and capable on the road for a mainstream compact crossover. Use of the all-wheel-drive system is welcomed as it adds an extra level of assuredness upon initial acceleration to limit unwanted front wheel spin before the stability and traction control systems step in. The ride quality is good as the dampers and coil springs eat up most road imperfections. Overall, handling is where the Equinox excels over much of its direct competition with a surprising limit to body roll, dive, and pitch. The 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in thick-profile all-season tires aide to the stability of the Equinox and may even improve upon it with the optional 19-inch wheels, which are standard on the top-level Premier trim.

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Fuel efficiency is improved with new turbocharged 4-cylinder powertrain offerings, especially over the outgoing V6 engine. The 2.0L Turbo engine in my Equinox test vehicle gets a decent 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. The city mileage is somewhat dependent on the undefeatable start-stop system, which I found to be a little too intrusive for my taste due to the air conditioner being shut down and left to blow stale air many times when I demanded a cooler temp. A start-stop system disable button would go a long way here, Chevrolet, even though the system is smart enough to limit engine stops when the air conditioner or heater load is high.

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Chevrolet has always had a contemporary design aesthetic that tends to carry over into their latest design language for their line of crossover utility vehicles. The Equinox is no different in having a subdued design both outside and in. When it comes to standing out in a crowd, the Equinox has a hard time garnering attention. That can be a good or bad thing depending on the demographic seeking such a vehicle, which for my guess, isn’t anyone looking for much attention in the first place. Though, there are many welcomed exterior design changes, such as the use of standard LED daytime running lights or the HID headlights in the middle-of-the-row LT trim level, in addition to the use of standard LED headlights and fog lights in the Premier trims. The Equinox also gets a bevy of available active safety features, but some are only available on the top Premier trim, such as Forward Collision Alert, Surround Vision, and IntelliBeam headlamps.

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The cabin of the new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is spacious and nearly deserving of a midsize classification. Within the realm of being a compact crossover, the Equinox does have plenty of seating space up front but slightly disappoints with the cargo volume falling short of its competition. In the driver’s seat, it can take a while to find an optimal position much in part due to limited travel of the telescoping steering wheel. Most of the interior materials are somewhat cheap-feeling with an abundance of hard plastics and very limited soft-touch surfaces, which are mostly left to small trim areas. The hard-plastic dashboard doesn’t contrast well to exude the least bit of luxury, which tends to cheapen the overall feel of the Equinox in any of its four basic trim levels.

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There are a few welcomed features for the basic infotainment system in the LT trim through its 7-inch color touchscreen, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The limitation of USB ports is somewhat of a hindrance but the standard 4G LTE WIFI slightly makes up to add some connectivity for those who wish to access the Internet through their WIFI-enabled device. The suit of OnStar telematics continues to be industry leading with the many connectivity and convenience features on top of the proven safety and recovery options.

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The benefit of having a powerful 252-horsepower turbocharged engine pays its dividend in the Equinox to potentially make up for the interior’s shortcomings. Expect to pay the as-tested price of $33,785 for my 2018 Equinox LT 2.0L Turbo test vehicle. The new 2018 Equinox starts at a price of $26,595 for the base LS 1.5L Turbo with 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque and slightly better fuel economy.

>> Get the best price on the Chevrolet Equinox from a network of local dealers now. <<

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Equinox L $23,580 / As-Tested Equinox LT 2.0L AWD $33,785
  • >> Get the best price on the Chevrolet Equinox from a network of local dealers now. <<
  • Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC Turbocharged 4-cylinder 252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm / 260 ft-lbs. torque @ 2,000 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 107.3 in.
  • Total length: 183.1 in.
  • Total width: 72.6 in.
  • Total height: 65.4 in.
  • Fuel tank: 14.9 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-40.0 in./38.5 in.
  • Legroom: f/r-40.9 in./39.7 in.
  • Cargo capacity: 29.9 cu.ft. all seats in place / 63.5 cu.ft. rear seats down
  • Turning circle: 37.4 ft.
  • Curb weight:  3,448 lbs. est.
  • Max Towing: 1,500 lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 22 mpg city / 28 mpg highway / 24 mpg combined (LT 2.0L Turbo AWD)

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