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The compact Chevy SUV we've been waiting for

 

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Starting Price: $24,475 | Price yours

Above Average: Comfort, highway ride, technology

Below Average: Interior style

Consensus: A functional and agreeable American SUV

Chevrolet swung for the fences with the all-new 2018 Equinox, and in most regards they hit the mark. From its pleasing, deeply functional cabin, occupants enjoy a range of useful technologies along with efficient performance facilitated by an all-turbocharged engine lineup. Infused with previously unseen levels of refinement, the latest Equinox could be a perfectly satisfying first and last stop in your SUV search…except for the fact that Honda updated the CR-V for 2017. And it’s really good.  

And yet even under the CR-V’s shadow, there are plenty of reasons to favor the Equinox. Would you appreciate up to six USB ports? How about a 360-degree camera system for foolproof parking? Would you like to upgrade to a racy 252-horsepower engine? Maybe a super-efficient diesel engine that returns nearly 40 mpg on the highway? Do you want to buy American? The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox offers all of that in a fully recommendable and competitively priced package.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Ratings

 

Highway Driving

In the face of howling desert winds, our test vehicle’s cabin remained comparatively serene. Add to that a slightly firm but comfortably controlled ride and the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox emerged as a wise choice for long-distance travels. Our car’s 1.5-liter engine churned along happily in steady-state cruising, cranking out just enough power for drama-free passing when the need arose. Unlike some of Chevrolet’s previous efforts, the Equinox’s lane-keep assist feature functioned with great finesse, gingerly intervening as required to keep the vehicle in its lane. However, we’re baffled that Chevrolet does not offer adaptive cruise control on the Equinox; an oversight described by one tester as a “deal-breaker.”

City Driving

Weighing almost 400 pounds less than the previous version, the latest Equinox makes do with a small but capable 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that delivers reasonably brisk acceleration in town and fuel economy near the top of its class. Normally we’d complain about the undefeatable automatic engine start/stop system, but thanks to its unobtrusive operation we’re willing to turn a blind eye to this fuel-saving tech. Compared to the rest of our test group, outward visibility is quite good in the Equinox. Even so, Chevy offers a 360-degree camera system for a handy bird’s-eye view around the vehicle when parking.

Interior Appeal

The Equinox’s understated cabin is inoffensive and pleasant enough, but compared to the richer-looking Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 the Chevy feels a bit plain. More vexing are distracting reflections from the metallic trim placed on the dash and around the gear selector. Visual shortcomings aside, a large center console, well-placed phone bin and tactical use of premium materials make the Equinox a welcoming and usable place to hang out.

Infotainment

From an appearance standpoint the MyLink infotainment system evoked varying opinions. One tester thought the “Windows 95 graphics on both screens put a serious damper on the interior ambiance” while others thought the presentation looked just fine. Otherwise, the system earned universal praise for its logical design, legible icons and standard smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One note: the screen is smudge prone, so keep a microfiber towel handy.

Rear Seat

It may not be the largest compact SUV in our test, but the Equinox nonetheless affords ample headroom and legroom in all positions. Even the unbeloved middle seat is perfectly inhabitable thanks to a completely flat foot area. Unlike some competitors, the rear seats don’t slide but they do sport a two-position recline ability that satisfied our adjustment needs. Also, despite some minor pressure points, we found both the front and rear seats to be supportive and generally comfortable. Subjected to the scorching heat of a desolate summertime test route we were reminded how valuable rear A/C vents can be, an Equinox standard that is simply not offered on the Toyota RAV4. Conversely, our car’s optional rear seat heaters would’ve been nice in a less fiery climate.

Cargo Area

In terms of total space, the Equinox’s 29.9 cubic-foot cargo hold put it in the middle tier of our test group. Forget the numbers though and Chevy’s compact SUV offers plenty of usable space, supplemented by a large underfloor storage area. For larger loads the 60/40-split rear seats fold nearly flat and can be dropped from the back of the vehicle using remote releases that are sadly reserved for the pricier LT and Premier trims.

Fuel Economy

Over the course of two days our 2018 Chevrolet Equinox returned an average of 24.6 miles per gallon, landing nearly two mpg shy of the best-performing Honda CR-V. But that number deserves a big asterisk since a particularly brisk journey home likely threw off the Equinox’s average. Looking at just the first half of our test the Equinox scored an average fuel economy number of 25.7 mpg, topping all but the Toyota RAV4. From the EPA’s perspective the 1.5-liter engine in our front-wheel-drive Equinox is rated at 28 mpg combined. Bottom line: driver behavior greatly affects fuel economy. Your results may vary.

Resale Value

While resale values aren’t a traditional Equinox strength, the greatly improved 2018 model should perform better in the long term. Even so, if you plan to sell your new compact SUV within the next five years it’s hard to ignore the class-leading resale numbers attached to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

 

Inside and Out Photo Gallery: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

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2017 Honda CR-V

Starting Price: $24,985

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2017 Jeep Compass

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2017 Kia Sportage

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2017 Mazda CX-5

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2017 Toyota RAV4

Starting Price: $25,370

Still one of the smartest buys in the segment. Read more

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