Review of: 2017 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4dr LT w/1LT
2018 Chevrolet Equinox 2.0T: Proudly Canadian-built
By Stephanie Wallcraft
Oct. 18, 2017
If you’re in the market for a compact SUV and it’s been a while since you last drove a Chevrolet Equinox, it’s time to put it back on your shopping list.
The improvements made to this car for the 2018 model year have vaulted it from also-ran status to (in my opinion) one of the top three picks in the segment. In some areas, most notably its technology, it could even be considered number one.
But it is attractive, ergonomically sound, a smooth and dependable driving partner—and as an added bonus, it’s still being built in Canada.
We tested the Equinox with its newest engine offering, a 2.0-litre turbocharged I4. Please note that a U.S. model is shown in the photographs associated with this article; the equivalent Canadian trim is discussed here (LT, the lowest at which the 2.0-litre engine is available; unlike this U.S. front-wheel-drive model, in Canada it comes with all-wheel drive only). This means that some of the features shown or omitted from the unit pictured may differ from the descriptions below.
Pros & Cons
- + Smooth, strong engine
- + Usable technology
- + Built in Canada
- - Fuel economy
- - Trunk space
- - Popular safety items cost extra
Put a 2018 Equinox side-by-side with the 2017 version and you’ll see that the differences are dramatic and focused on modernization. From removing the body-colour stripe from the grille and elongating the headlights to softening the wheel flares, raising and emphasizing the shoulder line with body-colour door handles, and adding an available sweeping chrome accent line to the windows, the Equinox stays true to its styling roots while taking a big leap forward in approachability. The legacy wraparound rear window is the only detriment to my eye. It’s an element that’s been with the Equinox for a long time, but it appears to have gotten in the designer’s way when accommodating the spoiler, and some of this car’s more popular competitors have moved away from it.
It doesn’t exactly send hearts aflutter, but the interior of the Equinox is well laid out and functional. The attention paid to small details pays off here: buttons and dials that are within easy reach of the driver, gauges that are clear and interpretable at a quick glance, a good amount of in-cabin storage, and cup holders that don’t get in the driver’s way.
Chevrolet calls the upholstery offered at this trim level “premium cloth,” and it really does come across that way. The quality feel and quilting details are above average for this type of vehicle.
On the road, the quietness of the interior in the new Equinox relative to its predecessor is like night and day.
Rear cargo space is one area in which the Equinox is outdone by a number of other vehicles in its class. Its 892 L with the rear seats up and 1,804 L with them down puts it behind four of the cars that regularly lead in the segment: the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Nissan Rogue.
As far as connectivity goes, General Motors is currently near the forefront of the mainstream brands. The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, shown with the trim-standard 7-inch screen here but upgradeable to an 8-inch, is simple to navigate and runs quickly. On top of that, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are included. (Navigation isn’t an option in the LT trim, but if you have a phone and a robust data plan, you won’t need it.) Then there’s OnStar and 4G LTE in-car WiFi, both available with a subscription.
If the latter piqued your interest, it may be because you have teenagers who will wither away if they need to go without their devices for a few minutes, which means you might also appreciate GM’s Teen Driver feature. It allows you to give your teen their own key fob that can limit speed and audio volume and force-enable certain safety technologies.
There are numerous safety and convenience technologies available, such as rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone detection, and power lift gate, but all require a spend over and above the base price at LT trim. A rear-view camera comes standard.
If you’ve test-driven the 1.5-litre engine that the 2018 Equinox was launched with and found it didn’t have quite enough power for your satisfaction, then the 2.0-litre might hit your sweet spot.
It’s not a raging powerhouse per se, producing 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a bump of 82 hp and 57 lb-ft over the 1.5, but it’s enough to instill more confidence in highway overtakes. It’s also remarkably quiet and smooth in combination with the nine-speed automatic transmission that’s included with the engine bump, a relatively new and strong performer that launched in 2017.
The unit tested here is equipped with front-wheel drive, which performed just fine on the perpetually dry and sun-drenched roads of California. We all know that Canadian roads are rarely as pleasant, so your experience may vary. However, in Canada if you want this engine then you’ll need to go with all-wheel drive anyway, which isn’t typically a hard sell for us Canucks.
Speaking of mileage, being front-wheel-drive only helped this tester achieve good fuel economy. Converted from miles per gallon, my week-long real-world figure was a very respectable average of 7.3 L/100 km. Again, since AWD is a must for us, Natural Resources Canada’s ratings show higher: 10.9 city, 8.3 highway, and 9.7 combined. The AWD system in the Equinox can easily be forced into front-wheel-drive only, to push you closer to those figures for those times when your local road conditions are closer to Californian than Calgarian.
An upgrade to the 2.0-litre engine costs $3,000, which would put the base price for an LT AWD 1LT model at $35,645 including freight and A/C tax. For the refinement of this powertrain, the quality of the fit, and the technology goodies that come standard, the value proposition here is a solid one. Just be prepared to spend more on fuel than your neighbour who bought a Honda CR-V.
Chevrolet has made a vast improvement with the 2018 Equinox, particularly with this powertrain. This is one Canadian-built car that’s easy to proudly recommend.