The Equinox is one of the few compact SUVs that’s available with three engines. First is a 170-horsepower, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder which comes with the lowest-priced base model. It has ample power for the daily commute but it won’t knock your socks off. The fuel economy is as good as 32 mpg on the highway. But for some, the engine might be too small.

There’s also a 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with plenty of oomph, but is more expensive to buy and has the worst fuel economy in the lineup–24-26 mpg around town and 30-32 mpg on the highway. Because of price and the fuel-economy hit, that engine may be too big. So the third engine, a fuel-efficient diesel with almost as much torque as the 2.0-liter (240 lb-ft versus 260), should be just right. Right?

Pluses and Minuses

Yes – and no. The diesel Equinox comes to market with a few disadvantages. For starters, the least expensive diesel you can get is the Equinox 3LT which has an MSRP of $31,435 including destination, the most expensive starting price in the lineup. It also has 137 horsepower, the lowest of the group. The interior is the same as in the other Equinoxes we’ve driven–namely, roomy, attractive and functional, with an easy-to-use touch screen for MyLink connectivity–but some diesel noise comes through.

For some, the upsides are worth the compromise. With the diesel, there’s good off-the-line response, but if you “floor it” as if you were driving a gas-powered vehicle, you’ll feel the relative lack of horsepower. If you’re willing to let the torque come into play by squeezing the throttle instead, it’s easy to get to freeway speed and stay there as the engine putts along at low rpm. And as you drive up grades, the 6-speed automatic transmission doesn’t have to hunt for the ideal gear. As is the case with the rest of the Equinox line, the ride is comfortable and outward visibility is very good.

Good fuel economy and range

The undeniably significant pluses for the diesel are its fuel economy and range. Whether you are looking at a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive diesel Equinox, fuel economy around town is 28 mpg, the best of the group. Its 39 mpg highway rating (38 with AWD) is better than some hybrid SUVs. If you look at how far you can go on a tank of fuel, the diesel Equinox’s numbers get better yet: FWD models can go 477 miles on a single tank, while AWD models have a larger tank giving a range of 499 miles.

The biggest question buyers will have to face is whether the added cost of getting the diesel is worth the savings at the fuel pump. Compared to the lowest price of a 2.0-liter-equipped Equinox, the base price for an Equinox Diesel is only $1,345 more, and nets you 10 additional mpg on the highway. That means that for those who choose the Equinox Diesel, they could potentially travel from Chicago, Illinois to Memphis, Tennessee on a single tank.

If you decide the 2018 Equinox Diesel is the one for you, it’s offered in LT or Premier trim. The LT starts at $31,435, and the top-of-the-line Premier starts at $33,930. You can add all-wheel drive for $1,750. If you like the Equinox but aren’t sure which one you want, or just want to learn more about the all-new-for-2018 Equinox, check out our full review and pricing information.

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