Road Test: 2018 Chevy Equinox Premier

We’ve always been fans of the Equinox since it arrived on the market over a decade ago. Since then, several iterations have been released and the latest is truly some of Chevy’s best work, much like the Malibu.

The Equinox rides quietly, comfortably, offers a lot of value, and returns impressive fuel economy even with the 2.0L turbo engine. Chevy provided us with a fully optioned Premier model with the more powerful engine, which is mated to a new 9-speed automatic.

The good days of silky smooth transmissions are back. This engine and transmission combination have been calibrated and refined so well that we can barely feel the shift points. Power delivery is strong with a slight amount of torque steer, since this was the front-wheel-drive version. Output is rated 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and we averaged 27.8 mpg after a week of mixed driving with air-conditioning usage the entire time.

The Equinox definitely surprises onlookers at stoplights with its impressive, nearly instantaneous acceleration. The stop/start system engages quickly and smoothly like the Malibu, and we liked that it wasn’t aggressive at turning off when we had the A/C cranking on 90+ degree afternoons.

Inside, the ventilated seats are worth their weight in gold during the summer months. After a long day at the office, or even a good workout, it’s so nice to start the Equinox from the key fob or a smartphone, and have the interior begin cooling down. We were also especially excited to turn on the “remote window opening” option in the infotainment system. Hold down the unlock button and all of the Equinox windows slide down.

We appreciated Chevy adding auto dimming exterior mirrors, a often overlooked but much appreciated luxury that is a safety and nighttime driving experience enhancement feature. LED headlights with automatic high beams are bright and illuminate incredibly well at night.

The sun visors slide and cover the entire side of the window, helpful on those bright mornings when the sun just won’t leave you alone.

The Equinox has definitely moved upmarket, with a large infotainment screen as well as a large color driver information center screen in the gauge cluster. Smartphone-like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the Chevy Marketplace come with a boatload of apps for streaming content from iHeartRadio, the Wall Street Journal, and more. The Marketplace works without a phone thanks to a built-in 4G LTE connection with WiFi hotspot.

A sweet sounding Bose system, massive panoramic roof that creates the largest opening we’ve ever seen in a vehicle, heated outboard rear seats, and a heated steering wheel all make the Equinox feel like it should be priced twice as much as it is.

We counted a total of 6 USB ports: 2 at the front of the center console, 2 under the center armrest, and 2 in the rear, along with 12V and 120V power outlets. And if that weren’t enough, there’s even a wireless phone charging pad at the front of the center console. That’s generous and families will surely appreciate it.

An extremely spacious rear seat and flat floor make it easy to transport people or cargo, and the cargo area itself is massive with storage space under the floor and a spare tire another layer further under that.

On the safety front, we love the Safety Alert Seat which vibrates the left or right side of the bottom cushion to alert the driver of a vehicle in their blind spot when changing lanes or backing out. It’s also used to get the driver’s attention when they should hit the brakes, in addition to the flashing red lights that appear in the windshield.

Parking is so much easier with Surround Vision, a 360-degree view of the Equinox that’s stitched together using four camera images on each side. A camera icon on the infotainment screen or putting the Equinox in reverse engages the system and displays it nicely on the large infotainment screen.

Lane keeping assist and low speed automatic braking are included with the Confidence and Convenience package. The lane keeping system works smoothly, and we like how it proactively keeps the Equinox in its lane rather than waiting for it to cross over the line. As always, hands must remain on the wheel.

Oddly, adaptive cruise is not available on the 2018 Equinox but we found out that a camera-based system will be on 2019 models. We look forward to testing it out.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 10
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 8
Total Score  98

Make: Chevrolet
Model: Equinox
Trim Level: Premier
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 9-Speed Auto
Options: Confidence and Convenience, and Sun Sound and Nav Packages

Base Price: $34,095
As-Tested Price: $38,610

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