Road Test: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel
Compact Crossover Fuel Economy Leader
While the world was distracted by Volkswagen’s diesel woes (resulting in them dropping the wonderful TDI engine from their line-up), Chevrolet snuck in with a very nice turbodiesel that quietly has earned them top fuel economy numbers in the two models where it is available. Clean Fleet Report drove the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD Premier Diesel, and became an instant fan of this versatile, fuel-sipping compact crossover.
All-new for 2018, the Equinox 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine puts out 137 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque. The six-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission did what it does best by maximizing shifts and efficiency for excellent fuel economy. The EPA’s rating is 28 city/39 highway/32 combined mpg. But our real-world experience with diesels is that the EPA numbers are conservative—and were they ever this time! In 381 miles of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving throughout Southern California, Clean Fleet Report achieved an average of 38.2 mpg. But in a 109-mile freeway run using cruise control and not exceeding 65 mph, we achieved an impressive 43.6 mpg. These numbers rival, if not exceed, those of hybrids. We are confident you will get similar numbers on your road trips.
It is important to note that fuel economy reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific, and represent the reviewer’s driving experience in our reviewer’s city. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains or spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The front-wheel drive 2018 Chevrolet Equinox diesel handled well, with confidence and good road feel on the highway. Maneuvering in town, including parking, was easy in what is a well-balanced crossover. The smooth and stable ride was aided by front MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar and the rear multi-link suspension. Cornering was level even during quick direction changes, and never felt top heavy. The Michelin Premium LTX all-season tires, riding on 18-inch aluminum wheels, were quiet and sure-footed. Wind noise was not noticeable and the engine was quiet.
Now, about that engine noise. Since it is a diesel, there is a real expectation of hearing a rattle-rattle-rattle coming from under the hood. The only time this is evident, if only the slightest volume, is when first starting the engine. Otherwise, the engine noise is muffled inside the cabin so there is no indication the Equinox is being powered by a diesel, as opposed to either the gasoline 1.5L or 2.0L turbo engine options.
There was plenty of power on the open road where the Equinox diesel would cruise all day at 70+ mph. Getting up to that speed was nothing to brag about, with zero–to-60 times right around 10 seconds to move the 3,327-pound crossover. When the torque kicks-in at 2,000 rpm and the horsepower at 3,750 rpm, the pull is stout and there are no second thoughts for maneuvers such as freeway onramps and passing big rigs on the open highway. So, when merging with highway traffic, it will be necessary to tromp on the accelerator for what seems like a long time before getting in line with the masses, who are most likely exceeding the posted speed limit.
Stopping felt a bit long, but the pedal feel was firm with no fade. The suspension and the stability control were tuned nicely, so the four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist made for straight and true stops.
Designed to Impress
The redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is recognizable by its smooth design. It does not have unnecessary scoops and cladding. The pointed front end, with a tasteful chrome grill and swept-back LED headlights, is topped by a clamshell hood. The roof, with chrome rack rails, barely finds a flat spot. Once it rises from the windshield it begins sloping to the rear hatch, which is topped with a shark fin antenna and a built-in spoiler and rear wiper. The power, hands-free hatch is bordered by LED taillights, and has a subtle blue Eco badge designating this Equinox as diesel-powered.
Clean Fleet Report tested the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox with the Premier trim line, which pretty much included everything you would want or need for an accommodating driving experience. Everything in the interior is within easy reach, with leather seats front and rear. The leather quality is a notch below what we usually see in a top-of-the-line crossover, but it was functional, including the perforated and heated power front seats. The leather rear seats, which include a folding armrest with cup holders, split 60/40 and are best suited for two adults, or three children.
The center dash in our Equinox Premier housed an 8.0-inch color touchscreen housing the rear vision camera and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, which included Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The six-speaker sound system plays AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX and Sirius/XM (with a 90-day introductory subscription). The Bluetooth worked very well for voice recognition. Most of the entertainment is controlled by switches on the leather-covered steering wheel. We would have liked knobs and wheels to control the radio, but the touch system worked well after a short learning period.
The Equinox Premier is well-equipped with convenience features including: wireless phone charging, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, remote keyless entry with remote start, power door locks, cruise control, dual zone automatic climate control, tire pressure monitor, keyless push button on and off, and three years of OnStar.
A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader and after the three-year service plan expires it is well worth renewing.
Safety, Pricing and Warranties
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox comes with an extensive list of standard and optional safety features. Since some of the features are available on higher trim levels and through packages, we advise getting your car with as many advanced driver technology and safety features as possible.
Features available on the Equinox include 10 airbags, a theft deterrent system, forward emergency braking and collision warning, stability control, cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist, vehicle stability management, traction control, lane change and side blind zone alert.
The 2018 Equinox comes in three trim levels with three engine options. Clean Fleet Report’s Equinox FWD Premier Diesel, with no options, had an MSRP of $32,985, excluding the $945 destination charge. Diesel model prices start at $31,695 while the entry-level gas model (L 1.5L Turbo) is $24,575. All-wheel drive adds about $3,700 to the base price.
The 2018 Equinox comes with these warranties:
- Bumper To Bumper Three years/36,000 miles
- Powertrain Five years/60,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance Five years/60,000 miles
- Corrosion Six years/100,000 miles
Observations: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD Premier Diesel
The Equinox is Chevrolet’s second best-selling vehicle in its line-up, only trailing the Silverado pickup. As such an important part of Chevrolet’s quiver, they are not only protective of the Equinox with the gasoline engine options, but by adding the turbodiesel engine have taken the lead in fuel economy for the compact crossover segment.
The design is clean and contemporary, but not jerk-your-head-in-awe styling, which most likely is what Chevrolet was going for. The Equinox has to
remain popular with small families and empty nesters; being the trendiest small crossover in the crowd isn’t necessary.
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox diesel holds its own with competitors regarding fit and finish, technology, safety features and styling. If you are in the market for a small crossover that gets excellent fuel economy, then visiting your Chevrolet dealer and taking a lengthy test drive should be on your To Do list.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.