On Thursday, September 22, 2016 the sun passed perpendicular to the equator resulting in near-equal hours of sunlight and darkness. Derived from the Latin words for “equal nights,” the semi-annual event is called equinox. That same day, three-thousand miles north of the equator, Chevrolet debuted the all-new 2018 Equinox crossover.
Although that’s old news, the model was long-due and is rather important to the brand. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look.
The 2018 model marks the third-generation for what Chevy calls a crossover and SUV. The current, second-gen Equinox went on sale in June of 2009, as a 2010 model. Chevy gave it a modest, I think regressive, freshening for 2016 but 2017 marks its eighth model year doing battle in an increasingly competitive segment.
That’s not to say it has been a sales slouch. In fact, year-over-year sales have increased in defiance of its age. In retail terms, the Equinox currently outsells every other Chevy model, with the exception of Silverado. That’s a lot of Equinoxes. In fact, more than 2 million since it first launched, in 2005.
However, that picture isn’t quite so rosy in the bigger scheme of things. Equinox has been a competitive player but never MVP in the broader scope.
Despite newer and much improved competition, the Equinox has held its own. The surge in demand for CUVs obviously boosted sales and aging models are certainly easier to discount, yet, there’s little question it was well received. Moreover, the current Equinox is quite commodious inside, compared to its peers, and even features sliding rear seats.
Considering the second generation’s respectable track record let’s consider how the new one might stack up based on what we know.
I saw a 2018 Equinox a couple weeks ago at a press preview for the Orange County Auto Show and I don’t think its character can be properly conveyed in pictures. As with several recent Chevy designs, there’s considerable understated surface detailing that plays with shadows and highlights. Moving around it animates those details and ties it all together, in a way a single dimension cannot.
With that said, there are no major deviations from what’s become typical from this class of CUV. Styling largely dictated by the wind tunnel makes it more of a conformist now, where its predecessor stood out from its peers. The truckishly rugged, flared fenders are gone. Essentially all second-gen characteristics were replaced with softer, gentler lines but it somehow retains a degree of identity. I think it comes down to proportioning, particularly around the windows.
Chevy said the styling was inspired by the latest Malibu which is pretty clear, and a good thing. There is a definite consistency setting in at Chevrolet design that’s less dependent on the split grille theme. They’re coordinated front to rear but not to the extent of being multi-sized clones.
Up front, Chevy eliminated the spacing that isolates the current fascia’s elements in favor of a horizontal theme with consolidated grille work and upper-light fixtures.
At the rear there is an even greater divergence in styling but it is also the only place I found a deliberate attempt to connect with the second generation. The previous model’s pseudo wrap-around rear glass carried over, in spirit, to the 2018 Equinox looking more integrated and finely finessed.
Despite dual exhaust outlets on the new Equinox, a V6 will be available no more. So far, only four-cylinder engines have been announced, in three sizes, all of which will be turbocharged, one of which will be diesel. Yes, diesel, a segment first in North America. I salute Chevy’s bravado, a rare act indeed for its smaller offerings.
The taillights which had been essentially stacked units have been swapped for horizontal fixtures that look more car-like and certainly more Chevy-car-like.
On the whole, I have to say the 2018 Equinox is a well-executed design and tightly composed. Whimsical details are scarce and no single feature is particularly dominant. Compared to the outgoing model it does come across as less ready for off-pavement duty but that exchange yielded a more sophisticated presence.
As I’m sure is the case with many people, I look for balance and continuity in automotive styling. Sometimes the two are not immediately apparent but instead inferred or even implied by suggestive features. I put together a chart with analytical overlays showing some of the features that stood out to me.
Inside, the Equinox is vastly improved for 2018 and, again, looked to Chevy’s newest sedans for inspiration.
Following are additional statistics on the 2018 Equinox and some of its peers.
|Passenger Volume||99.7||– –||104.1||98.7||101.9||103.8||(cu.ft.)|
|Max. Cargo Rear||31.5||29.9||37.2||34.0||38.4||34.1||(cu.ft.)|
|Max. Cargo Total||63.7||63.5||70.9||68.0||73.4||64.8||(cu.ft.)|
|Front Shoulder Room||55.8||57.2||58.6||55.9||57.3||57.5||(in.)|
|Front Hip Room||54.6||54.2||54.5||54.4||54.3||55.2||(in.)|
|Rear Shoulder Room||55.3||55.5||56.4||55.2||55.4||55.5||(in.)|
|Rear Hip Room||51.1||51.7||53.1||52.1||48.9||53.7||(in.)|
|Base Curb Weight||3777||3327||3358||3552||3455||3212 (man.)|
|Turning Circle Diam.||40.0||37.4||37.5||– –||34.8||36.7||(ft.)|
|Max. Trailering Weight||3500||3500||1500||3500||1500||– –||(lb.)|
|Base Engine Size||2.4L, 4 cyl.||1.5L, 4 cyl.,|
|2.4L, 4 cyl.||2.5L, 4 cyl.||2.5L, 4 cyl.||2.0L, 4 cyl.|
|Base Engine Power||182/172||170/203||185/181||168/170||176/172||155/150||(hp./|
|Base Engine MPG||28||31||33||29||30||35 (man.)|
|Top Engine Size||3.6L, 6 cyl.||1.6L, 4 cyl.,|
|– –||2.0L 4 cyl.,|
|2.5L, 4 cyl.,|
|2.5L, 4 cyl.|
|Top Engine Power||301/272||136/236||– –||245/275||194/- –||184/185||(hp./|
|Top Engine MPG||24||40||– –||29||30||30||(est.|
|Starting Price||$23,100||– –||$23,845||$23,600||$24,910||$21,795|
Well, I’ve let you know what I think of the 2018 Equinox. What do you think?