– Cleveland, OH
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is a full redesign of the bowtie brand’s popular crossover. My tester, a top-shelf Equinox Premium with the most powerful engine and every option save all-wheel drive, puts this vehicle’s best foot forward. It still, however, trips over itself in some ways.
Comfortable and composed ride. The Equinox offers a balance of ride and handling that tilts decidedly more towards comfort than either sportiness or ruggedness. It knows what it is – a family vehicle – and the suspension is well suited for all-day errand runs and countless trips to ballet and the ball field. While ill-prepared for high-speed shenanigans, the Equinox’s handling at least feels more stable and composed than, say, a minivan’s.
Punchy yet peaceful engine. My favorite part of the Equinox is its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, not just for the ease with which its 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque moves this 3,500-pound crossover (that’s 400 pounds fewer than year’s model), but for the dulcet way it does it. Credit goes to the Equinox’s good sound isolation, standard active noise cancellation, and well-mannered nine-speed transmission. The latter is available only with the 2.0-liter engine on the top LT and Premier trim levels. The standard engine and transmission for all trim levels is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic. The Equinox, along with its corporate sibling from GMC and the Mazda CX-5, also offers one of the compact crossover segment’s only diesel engines, which gets up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway (ask your local when they’re arriving, though, because we haven’t found one in the wild yet).
The flattest floor. The Equinox has one of the best cargo holds I’ve experienced with the rear seats folded. It’s not that it can swallow more cubic feet than any other crossover (for the record, it can fit 63.5 cubes of whatever you’ve got). Rather, the shape of the space, and in particular the way the cargo floor is both completely flat and level from front to back, makes it more usable. Credit goes to the second row of seats that “kneels” when folded forward, which allows the seat backs to come farther down and avoid creating a backwards-sloping ramp like in many other crossovers.
Bland styling. While the Equinox didn’t get any worse-looking, its new shape for 2018 doesn’t rank up there with more attractive forms like the Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, and Hyundai Tucson. One also can’t look at this particular Equinox without having an opinion of its Ivy Metallic ($395) paint color; initially I hated it, but was rethinking my stance by the third unsolicited compliment.
Tight turning circle. The Equinox’s turning radius is a relatively large 37.4 feet in diameter. While better than the last model, which required a full 40 feet, this is still too large for tight maneuvering. For context, the Toyota RAV4 can do slow-mo donuts within a space of 34.8 feet. That 2.6 feet may not sound like much, but in parking lots where tight maneuvering is required, it’s the difference between pulling right into a space and having to back up once or twice to squeeze in. I did the latter a lot with this Equinox.
Costly features. Many of the Equinox’s most desirable options are housed within expensive packages that are only available on costlier trim levels. The competition, however, is going the other way, offering many sought-after items for more reasonable prices on more trim levels. Consider an advanced safety feature like automatic braking. On the Equinox, this technology is only available on the most expensive trim level (the $31,735 Premier) and within an optional package that costs an additional $1,895. A Subaru Forester, though, offers automatic braking on three of its five trim levels in package that starts at $1,695. A Toyota RAV4, meanwhile, offers auto-braking standard on every single one of its trim levels. The Equinox pulls this with more than just expensive features; you don’t get more than one USB port until you order a $1,995 options package on the second-most expensive trim level.