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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox
Redesigned and freshly arrived at dealerships, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossover improves upon the previous two generations of the small SUV. Sporting a newly sculpted figure, the Equinox cut 10 percent of its body weight while gaining safety features and fuel efficiency.
The five-passenger SUV gets a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. An available 2.0-liter turbo is paired with Chevy’s new nine-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can also choose a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel. The steering feels exceptionally precise for a crossover, making the Equinox feel surprisingly nimble when this reporter tested an all-wheel-drive model on a closed autocross course. When equipped with the standard powertrain, the Equinox delivers 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The turbo-diesel returns 40 mpg combined, which is excellent for a small crossover.
The Equinox comes with Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with a seven- or eight-inch touch screen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Wireless charging is standard on the SUV’s top-of-the-line Premier trim. Cloth upholstery is standard, but buyers can upgrade to amenities including leather-trimmed heated and ventilated front seats, a leather steering wheel, a power sunroof, and denim-style upholstery. The Equinox’s cargo space is average for a compact SUV, likely sufficient for a weekly shopping trip but not an IKEA haul.
The new Equinox has not been rated for crashworthiness by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the 2017 model received excellent scores from both agencies. All models come with a rearview camera and General Motors’ Teen Driver system, which allows owners to control the vehicle’s speed and audio volume remotely and track driving behavior. Low-speed forward automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, and other advanced driver safety systems are available.
The Chevrolet Equinox small SUV starts at $23,580.
What the experts are saying
Kid-friendly and luxurious
“The 2018 Equinox is more than just ‘new’ – it’s completely transformed. Once a frumpy, forgettable crossover, the new Equinox is now sleeker on the outside and much more premium on the inside. And when we talk crossovers, the interior matters – most buyers in the small crossover segment are looking at comfort and convenience over torque and horsepower. Perhaps my most favorite thing about the Equinox is how versatile it can be. It’s large enough to shuttle the kids to school and all their after-school activities, but small enough to make it easy to park and get reasonable gas mileage. And when the kids need to borrow the car, the Teen Driver technology in the car will ease a worried parent’s mind by providing a ‘report card’ on their driving habits while they were out.” – Carrie Kim, managing editor at autobytel.com
Optional safety equipment
“IIHS hasn’t fully tested the redesigned 2018 Equinox. The current model isn’t competitive with the class leaders in safety technology, so it doesn’t earn the Institute’s Top Safety Pick designation. The 2017 Equinox lacks an available autonomous emergency braking system (AEB), which our research shows can cut the risk of a front-into-rear collision in half. AEB will be optional on the top trim level of the 2018 Equinox. Consumers, though, are starting to expect this kind effective crash prevention system to be standard and competitors like Toyota and Nissan are quickly moving in that direction.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
“When you’re retired and you have a grandkid, or you just got married and have a kid or two on the way, you make the jump to an Equinox. People like the utility of being up higher. It’s a few inches higher off the ground than a car, so bad weather is a little less of an event. Customers love that they can fit everything in the back and that they get gas mileage that’s more comparable to a sedan. As a crossover, the Equinox is aerodynamic and sleek, and since you’re using less gas, it’s affordable. Who wants to be in a minivan today?” – Paul Masse, owner of Paul Masse Chevrolet in East Providence, Rhode Island