The new Equinox SUV is Chevy’s best shot at taking on Honda and Toyota

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Business Insider/Danielle Muoio

People are clamoring for compact SUVS, and with so much competition, General Motors is changing its focus.

The Equinox has boasted reasonable sales, but has conventionally fallen behind frontrunners like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

This year, Chevrolet decided to give the Equinox a better shot at cornering the market with a revamped model that’s both smaller and lighter – allowing it to more closely align with the compact space.

Those efforts are already paying off; GM recently reported its best crossover sales ever.

We took an all-new Chevy Equinox LT out for a long road trip to see whether the upgrades give it a perceptible edge. Scroll down for our verdict:


We took the all-new Chevy Equinox on a nice road trip from New York City to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The trip gave us a great feel for how the SUV performed on highways and in crowded beach neighborhoods.

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We tested the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It’s supposed to get a combined 26 miles per gallon, which competes with the Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4, but still falls behind the best-selling Honda CR-V.

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Chevy is also beginning to offer a 2.0-liter turbo engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission, and a diesel is on the way. You can also elect to just get forward-wheel drive.
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The LT starts at $28,500, but add-ons increased the final price tag to $33,730. I consider the extra features necessary, so I would be prepared to spend over $30,000.

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For those looking to cut costs even more, the base trim (the L) starts $24,525. The Premier, the most luxurious option, starts at $31,735.

GM offers two separate packages for the LT that are priced just under $2,000: the Confidence and Convenience Package and Sun and Infotainment Package. Both packages offer an array of driver-assistance features, like rear-cross traffic alert, that are standard on the Premier.

We had both packages, and the Sun and Infotainment package is definitely worth splurging on for the added features, but more on that later.


When it comes down to the essentials — price, mileage, and driving capabilities — the SUV has perfectly reasonable specs to run with the CR-V, RAV4, and Rogue. If anything, it slightly edges out most of the competition when it comes to mileage.

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That takes us to our most important starting point: size. The 2018 Equinox is slightly smaller than its predecessor at 183.1 inches long, but still bigger than the CR-V (180.6 inches). It competes most closely with the RAV4 (182.5 inches) in size.

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I had the same qualm driving the Equinox as I did with the RAV4. For a compact crossover SUV, the Equinox feels clunky and large. I didn’t feel like I was getting the real benefit of buying a smaller crossover: enough space for cargo and kids, but with better zip and handling that a mid-size vehicle.

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I found this somewhat surprising considering the Equinox is technically smaller than the Nissan Rogue (184.5 inches), but still not as pleasant to drive. While the Rogue and CR-V feel sporty and fun, the Equinox and RAV4 feel heavy.

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That heaviness was more apparent on highways when I tried to change lanes or make quick maneuvers. The engine felt like it was struggling whenever I asked for faster performance and, generally speaking, the car felt sluggish. That seems like a problem considering how many affordable crossovers are on the market.

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You can get better pep, however, if you spring for the diesel or 2.0-liter engine options. Chevy doesn’t provide an acceleration time for the Equinox, but Car and Driver puts the 2.0 liter turbo at an impressive 6.7 seconds, which is notably faster than the CR-V and RAV4. The 1.5-liter comes in at more like 9 seconds.


All that being said, this car beats the CR-V and even the RAV4 when it comes to space. The rear is roomy enough to seat most adults without compromising on trunk space. Dual air conditioning in the back is a nice touch for anyone buying an SUV for road trips or transporting kids.

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The seats, which got a fabric upgrade for the 2018 mode, are very cozy without being overly plush. The Nissan Rogue had slightly better back support, but the Equinox doesn’t skimp when it comes to comfort. For a trip that spanned several hours, my back wasn’t twisted or sore once I stepped out of the car.

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For an almost $34,000 car, the Equinox doesn’t feel cheap. This SUV was optioned with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, USB ports, and sunroof — all of which make the driving experience feel a little more luxe. But it still comes with the basic necessities you’d expect from an SUV, like cupholders in the front and back and dual-climate control to keep everyone happy.

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Here’s a close-up of the cupholders and USB slots. That little area near the ports lets you hook up an iPhone — even one as big as the 6S Plus — without worrying about it flying all over the place.

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The Equinox has a clean dashboard with an 8-inch touchscreen that’s refreshingly simple. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and also comes with Bluetooth support and Sirius XM Radio. A nice little perk is the 4G WiFi hotspot, which functioned without any connectivity hiccups.

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You have to sign up for a data plan to use the 4G hotspot and purchase a Sirius XM subscription after the first three months. So if you want these features, it’s worth making a mental note of those additions for your final budget.
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Like most cars today, the Equinox comes standard with keyless entry.

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Business Insider/Danielle Muoio

It’s so small, but the ability to open the door without rummaging for my keys is something I now expect in all cars.

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Simply tap the button with the key fob on your person and you’re good to go!
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The SUV came optioned with safety features like side blind zone alert, rear-cross traffic alert, and rear park assist. All the features work perfectly fine, but it’s a shame they aren’t standard at this point. There’s also no advanced cruise control, which is an option in competitors like the CR-V and RAV4.

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Overall, the Equinox is an affordable and sturdy car for an everyday driver looking for a a solid amount of space. It has great mileage and is comfortable enough for a long haul. But it’s lacking in some critical aspects (safety, handling) that make other compact crossovers more appealing.

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Despite those drawbacks, it’s worth keeping the Equinox in mind purely for its OnStar package with 4G connectivity. Those services give the Equinox a serious edge for drivers who take regular road trips or find themselves sitting idle in parking lots waiting for kids. If you’re biggest pre-requisites are space and connectivity, this is the right crossover for the job.

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Business Insider/Danielle Muoio