Last week, at the appropriate timing of the Autumn seasonal change, Chevrolet revealed at new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox complete with a 400 lb weight loss, new styling and a turbo-only powertrain including the segment’s first turbo-diesel option. This diesel option could dramatically change the makeup of the competitive compact SUV segment pushing the small vehicle over the 40 MPG highway mark.
The list of new features and styling on the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is quite extensive leading off with a fresh exterior pulling from styling cues of other Chevy products like the Malibu. This styling brings the compact SUV much more in line with the rest of their vehicles and also give the appearance of a robust SUV look (much like Nissan recently did with the Rogue).
On the inside, the premium material feel found on the Malibu is carried over into this vehicle. With what looks like as a plethora of soft-touch materials, stylish matching of different color combinations and ample storage room, this should compete well with stalwarts like the Honda CR-V.
Interesting, Chevy says this new compact SUV is actually slightly smaller than the previous generation – everyone seems to be going larger – and this bodes well for many customers who disdain parking and driving large SUVs. Plus, the size change looks to be so slight, many customers won’t notice and it helps create product differentiation between the other Chevy SUV vehicles.
A common theme we have hearing from manufactures in this segment is how much safety features matter to this consumer. In this area, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox does not disappoint with a host of new features like:
Plus, the 2018 Chevy Equinox also offers adds in the smart Teen Driver system which can track, limit speeds/radio volume and deliver reports to parents. This is a handy feature for making sure your young driver is safe.
While the style and safety features are sure to get consumers interested, the new powertrain options certainly stand out especially an all-new diesel option.
Fuel economy is one of the top purchase reasons in this segment and, where others are offering hybrids as well as straight gasoline engines, Chevrolet decided to take a different approach. It added turbochargers to every engine option including a new diesel.
When you add a turbo-charged engine in a vehicle, especially like one in the Equinox which drops 400 lbs of curb weight, you typically get a much better response off the line (it feels quicker) and it returns better fuel economy. These engines are no exception with the 1.5L and 2.0L, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, expected to return better fuel economy over the base engines from the prior generation.
Standing out among these engines has to be the new, and segment first, 1.6L turbo-diesel mated to a six-speed transmission. The diesel engine promises an immediate 25 percent increase in fuel economy over any gasoline option. However, it often comes with an increased price of a few thousand dollars.
The diesel engine choice is interesting since much of the segment seems to be answering the fuel economy question with hybrids. If it pays off, Chevrolet will have a competitive advantage for years to come. It just depends on how much fuel economy consumers really want. Is 40 MPGs highway worth the increased price? Lately, and in other segments, the answer seems to be yes. Will it be the same for the Equinox? It is anybody’s guess at this point, but Chevrolet does have the other gasoline engines to fall back on.
Chevrolet expects the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox to be in showrooms in the first part of 2017 with pricing and exact specifications to be announced at a later date.