The SUV segment is one of the hottest, most-competitive vehicle segments in the U.S. right now.
So, any automaker introducing a new SUV had better make it good.
Luckily, Chevrolet got the memo.
The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox
is well-priced and chockfull of unexpected standard features.
The base L trim has a starting price of $24,475 and includes features such as passive entry, push-button start, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Teen Driver, daytime running lights and under-floor storage in the rear cargo area.
You can't get any options at this trim, it's only available as a front-wheel-drive model, and you only have two color choices - gray or white - but with a standard rearview camera and a comfortable ride, that's a nice price for a family vehicle that actually seats five passengers - and will fit their suitcases and whatnot.
Beyond the base L, Equinox has three additional trims, all of which are available in front- or all-wheel drive. Adding AWD will cost $1,750 (LS, LT) to $3,645 (Premier).
LS ($26,405): This trim adds features such as a compact spare tire, carpeted rear floor mats and compass. There are also 5 additional color choices available on LS models. Available packages: Protection and Interior Protection.
LT ($27,645): The LT is probably the "sweet-spot" trim with features such as high-intensity discharge headlights, power driver's seat, heated outside mirrors and second-row mechanical seat-release levers. This is also where up-level safety features such as rear park assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert become available with the Confidence & Convenience Package ($1,945).
Premier ($31,685): This top-tier trim includes items such as leather seats, heated front seats, rear cross-traffic alert, hands-free power liftgate, six USB charge ports and blind-spot monitoring. The most advanced safety features are available on this trim with the addition of the Confidence & Convenience Package II ($1,895), which includes lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, surround-vision camera and low-speed forward automatic braking.
Currently there is only one engine available on the Equinox: a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It delivers 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. I thought it was fine. It'll get you where you want to go, and there's enough oomph to merge with traffic and pass. But I'd love to see a little more power.
The good news is two additional engines are coming for Equinox: a 1.6-liter diesel and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The diesel will deliver 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, and the up-level 2.0-liter will deliver 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Frankly, the latter is the one we can't wait to drive.
With the 1.5-liter engine, EPA estimates that you should get 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with the FWD models and 24/30 mpg, respectively, in the AWD models. We averaged about 22.8 mpg in combined driving during our day-long jaunt in the AWD model, but it should be noted we were driving on a lot of hills.
The ride and handling of the 2018 Equinox is very solid. It holds corners and curves well, and it's very grounded in highway driving. Minimal road and tire noise seep into the cabin -though my driving partner and I did notice some tire noise on rougher road surfaces. Interior quietness in general, however, is pretty decent.
Styling for 2018 gets a little more chiseled with strong masculine horizontal lines surrounding the vehicle. The interior is also nicely appointed - even at a non-Premier levels - with attractive cloth seats and leather-stitched dash accents.
I really appreciated the little touches in the new Equinox from the cell phone pocket in the front passenger foot well to the hidden storage in the rear cargo area. While leather seats are always nice, I thought the cloth seats were more comfortable. Since they're available with a heated option, there's no need to spend extra money on the upgrade.
Overall, the 2018 Equinox proves to be an excellent new entry into the hot SUV segment. It's one of those vehicles that is relatively effortless to drive with a ton of comfort and intuitive convenience features packed into an affordable package.
If you're looking at the Toyota RAV4 or the Ford Edge, add Equinox to your must-test list.
Editor's Note: Driving impressions in this "First Look" review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Chevrolet covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.