“This is it. The moment of truth,” I thought as I pressed the start button of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. The day before, I set up the Teen Driver system to monitor my behind the wheel antics. It was now time to view my report card.
Forward collision avoidance braking: zero. ABS Active: zero. Go me! Look how safe I am! Except I had 48 Overspeed Warnings, 28 Forward Collision Alerts and (sorry, Mom) 154 Tailgating Alerts.
In my defense, I had set the speed warning to go off at 60 mph, and much of my driving was done in the notorious traffic of the San Francisco Bay Area, where tailgating is the norm. Still, just because everyone else does it, doesn’t make it right. Teen Driver is a useful tool for parents to monitor their kids’ driving and help them form good habits that will last a lifetime. So go ahead, toss over those keys. You’ll get all kinds of information to hold against your kid for future admonishments.
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox slots in between the smalland the three-row . It’s been successfully redesigned for the 2018 model year, losing the vaguely cross-eyed front end in favor of a sleek headlight assembly and a reworked grille. The rear lost the clunky taillights in lieu of a more sporty rear fascia. Heck, there’s even a spoiler of sorts above the rear window. The Equinox is 400 pounds lighter this year as well, but it still retains basically the same footprint as 2017. It’s a great achievement for Chevrolet, but this weight loss merely equates its fighting weight with competitors like the and .
Chevrolet included improvements under the hood as well, and will soon have three turbocharged options. My test model came with the base 1.5-liter four cylinder engine, putting out 170 horsepower, pretty average for the class, and 203 pound-feet of torque. Available late summer will be a 1.6-liter turbo diesel with 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. At some point, a 2.0-liter turbo will come online with 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That puts it on equal footing with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine in the.
Believe it or not, the Equinox doesn’t do too badly in the turns. It’s surprisingly spry when the pavement turns twisty, helped by the optional all-wheel-drive setup. Many other manufacturers disconnect the rear axle automatically when the computer senses the vehicle doesn’t need all-wheel drive, like when driving straight. The Equinox leaves it up to the driver. A touch of a button sends power to all four wheels.
The six-speed automatic transmission is a welcome change from most manufacturer’s continuously variable transmissions. Instead of a droney, buzzy sound and feel, the standard automatic shifts smoothly, though it needs a bit of encouragement to downshift for passing or coming out of a turn.
The Equinox with all-wheel drive and the 1.5-liter engine gets an EPA fuel rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. That’s right inline with the Hyundai Tuscon and the, a bit better than the Ford Escape but a few notches below Honda’s CR-V. During my week with the Equinox I saw an average fuel consumption of 25.7 miles per gallon.
My only complaint from behind the wheel is the throttle lag. Press on the gas and the engine and turbocharger take a good second to respond to the input, making it tough to accelerate out of corners or out of a sticky situation. It’s not a deal breaker but the computer could be programmed for a more responsive right pedal. Let’s hope it will be faster when the 2.0-liter engine is available or it will be a serious buzzkill.
Cruising around the hard way
Speaking of buzzkill, adaptive cruise control is not available on any trim line. And you’ll have to pay extra for most advanced safety features, if they are even offered at all. While Chevrolet offers the lower L and LS trims with a backup camera, it doesn’t include any advanced camera and radar-based safety elements like forward collision alert and automatic braking, either standard or as options.