picture post 2018 Chevrolet Equinox opining

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Opining banner


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.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox reveal

Chevrolet introduced the 2018 Equinox compact CUV in Chicago, Illinois.
(Photo credit: Chevrolet, by Steve Fecht)

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.

Chevrolet Equinox sales 2009-2015

Chevrolet Equinox sales for the past seven years. The first generation’s final model year was 2009, shown in gray. The second generation launched for 2010 and sales never stopped climbing.

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.

small CUV sales 2010-2015

This chart compares the annual sales for Equinox against some of its popular competitors. Worth noting, the Honda CR-V was all-new for 2012; the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 were all-new for 2013.

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.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Its silhouette is familiar even though wheelbase and total length are each down about five inches for 2018. That means overhangs stayed roughly equal, however, it appears that an inch or two of it might have been shifted rearward.

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.

2016 vs 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The belt line on the second-generation Equinox (2016 model, shown left) was sharply creased, while it is less distinct on the 2018 Equinox (right).

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.

2016 Cruze vs 2018 Equinox headlights

There is a discernible family resemblance with the second-generation Cruze which was all-new for 2016.

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.

2016 vs 2018 Chevrolet Equinox front detail

Few cues from the current front can be found in what has become an integrated unit comprising the standard projector-beam headlamps, and newly-fused upper and middle grille openings.

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.

2016 vs 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The 2018 Equinox looks less truck-ish, as was intended; Chevrolet said styling for the 2018 Equinox was Malibu-inspired.

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.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The current taillights (2016 model shown left) compared to the 2018 that the brand describes as “Chevy-signature dual-element taillamps.” It is becoming a signature.

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.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox proportions

The top graphic illustrates what I am referring to by inferred and implied lines. This brings to light unflattering relationships, such as the A-pillar’s alignment relative to the front axle (common fwd fare), but also a great deal of harmonious intersections. The lower graphic offers a more objective analysis of the vehicle’s proportions.

Inside, the Equinox is vastly improved for 2018 and, again, looked to Chevy’s newest sedans for inspiration.

2016 Cruze vs 2018 Equinox int gal

Though an entirely new vehicle (bottom), there is a substantial amount of familiarity in the locations of touch points and displays.

Following are additional statistics on the 2018 Equinox and some of its peers.

2017
Chevrolet
Equinox
2018
Chevrolet
Equinox
2016
Honda
CR-V
2017
Ford
Escape
2017
Toyota
RAV4
2016.5
Mazda
CX-5
Passenger Volume99.7– –104.198.7101.9103.8(cu.ft.)
Max. Cargo Rear31.529.937.234.038.434.1(cu.ft.)
Max. Cargo Total63.763.570.968.073.464.8(cu.ft.)
Front Headroom40.940.039.939.939.840.1(in.)
Front Legroom41.240.941.343.142.641.0(in.)
Front Shoulder Room55.857.258.655.957.357.5(in.)
Front Hip Room54.654.254.554.454.355.2(in.)
Rear Headroom39.238.538.639.038.939.0(in.)
Rear Legroom39.939.738.337.337.239.3(in.)
Rear Shoulder Room55.355.556.455.255.455.5(in.)
Rear Hip Room51.151.753.152.148.953.7(in.)
Wheelbase112.5107.3103.1105.9104.7106.3(in.)
Overall Length187.8183.1179.4178.1183.5178.7(in.)
Overall Width72.572.671.672.472.672.4(in.)
Overall Height66.365.464.766.367.167.3(in.)
Front Track62.962.262.161.561.862.4(in.)
Rear Track62.162.262.261.661.862.5(in.)
Base Curb Weight377733273358355234553212 (man.)
3433 (auto.)
(lb.)
Turning Circle Diam.40.037.437.5– –34.836.7(ft.)
Fuel Capacity18.814.715.315.715.914.8(gal.)
Max. Trailering Weight35003500150035001500– –(lb.)
Base Engine Size2.4L, 4 cyl.1.5L, 4 cyl.,
turbo
2.4L, 4 cyl.2.5L, 4 cyl.2.5L, 4 cyl.2.0L, 4 cyl.
Base Engine Power182/172170/203185/181168/170176/172155/150(hp./
lb.ft.)
Base Engine MPG283133293035 (man.)
33 (auto.)
(est.
hwy.)
Top Engine Size3.6L, 6 cyl.1.6L, 4 cyl.,
turbo-diesel
– –2.0L 4 cyl.,
twin-turbo
2.5L, 4 cyl.,
Hybrid
2.5L, 4 cyl.
Top Engine Power301/272136/236– –245/275194/- –184/185(hp./
lb.ft.)
Top Engine MPG2440– –293030(est.
hwy.)
Starting Price$23,100– –$23,845$23,600$24,910$21,795
2017
Chevrolet
Equinox
2018
Chevrolet
Equinox
2016
Honda
CR-V
2017
Ford
Escape
2017
Toyota
RAV4
2016.5
Mazda
CX-5


Well, I’ve let you know what I think of the 2018 Equinox. What do you think?