Re­designed SUV de­serves re­spect amid sea of ri­vals

The Review - - AUTOMOTIVE - Matt Myftiu Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at [email protected]­totechre­views.com. His past re­views can all be seen on­line at au­totechre­views.com.

There’s a seem­ingly end­less list of SUVs out there to choose from, in case you haven’t no­ticed. But a hand­ful of them rise to the top of the sales charts ev­ery year, and for good rea­son, as they’re the real deal.

One of those is the Chevy Equinox, which un­der­went an at­trac­tive re­design for 2018 and sees only mi­nor changes for the 2019 model. I’m here with a full re­port on what it has to of­fer and how it holds up to the com­pe­ti­tion.

Looks

While most SUVs aren’t too thrilling to look at, the Equinox’s look is one of the bet­ter de­signs in class, and my test ve­hi­cle was helped along by its sharp “Or­ange Burst Metal­lic” paint scheme.

The Equinox is clas­si­fied as a com­pact SUV (the Trax be­ing the sub­com­pact in the Chevy fam­ily, the Tra­verse the mid­size). I found the space sit­u­a­tion in the Equinox to be roomy, but not a class leader. You get a grand to­tal of 63.5 cu­bic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.

In­side the Equinox, the ma­te­ri­als used were of de­cent qual­ity, but noth­ing overly spe­cial or lux­u­ri­ous. I was a fan of the over­all setup in­side, with plenty of head­room and legroom all around, and but­tons and con­trols all well-placed for easy use.

You do get some crea­ture com­forts and tech boosts in the de­sign. My test ve­hi­cle in­cluded leather-ap­pointed seat trim, heated front seats, dual zone auto cli­mate con­trol, 6-speaker au­dio sys­tem, wire­less phone charg­ing, 6 to­tal USB ports and an AUX in­put.

En­gine, horse­power

When it comes to en­gines, it’s good to have op­tions, and you have three ver­sions of the pow­er­plant.

The Equinox I tested had a 2.0-liter, four-cylin­der turbo en­gine; paired with a 9-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Num­bers were 252 horse­power and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.

Also of­fered is a 1.5-liter

FYI

Ve­hi­cle: 2019 Chevy Equinox

Price as tested: $39,135 Best fea­ture: Over­all ride qual­ity, strong tech and safety fea­tures

Rat­ing: 4 out of five stars Who will want this ve­hi­cle?: SUV buy­ers look­ing for a solid do­mes­tic op­tion turbo four (170 hp, 203 lb.-ft.); and a 1.6-liter turbo diesel (137 hp, 240 lb.-ft.). Bet­ter fuel mileage (28 city/38 high­way) comes with the diesel op­tion.

Front-wheel drive is stan­dard, but all-wheel drive is an op­tion. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity maxes out at 3,500 pounds.

The 2.0 turbo mo­tor is peppy when you want it to be, and a Sport mode can be trig­gered to boost the fun of your ride. Even when you’re not in Sport mode, the Equinox of­fers a silky smooth ride and over­all im­pres­sive han­dling. You al­ways feel in con­trol and there’s never se­vere slug­gish­ness.

Re­ports on the other two en­gines are less en­thu­si­as­tic. So if power is im­por­tant to you, keep that in mind when choos­ing.

There are other SUV com­peti­tors that are more fun to drive than the Equinox ((Mazda CX-5, for ex­am­ple), but over­all it com­petes very well in drive qual­ity against most of its com­pe­ti­tion, in­clud­ing big-vol­ume sell­ers like Toy­ota RAV4, Nis­san Rogue and Honda CR-V.

Tech­nol­ogy, safety

Fam­i­lies want to feel safe in an SUV, and that’s where the Equinox shines.

First off, it has nearly per­fect govern­ment safety rat­ings, five stars over­all and five stars in all but one in­di­vid­ual cat­e­gory.

The up­dated in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem in the Equinox is im­pres­sive and works well both via voice and touch con­trols.

The laun­dry list of safety equip­ment on the Equinox in­cludes: Anti-lock brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol and trac­tion con­trol, tire pres­sure mon­i­tor and a bevy of air bags.

Teen Driver set­tings let you mon­i­tor how your kids are driv­ing the ve­hi­cle and en­cour­age safe driv­ing habits, a fea­ture that many par­ents are thank­ful for.

Among the many help­ful safety fea­tures in play on the Equinox are: Rear park as­sist, rear cross traf­fic alert and lane change alert with side blind zone alert.

You get LED head­lamps, LED day­time run­ning lights and LED tail­lamps. On­star ser­vices are of­fered, as is a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot ca­pa­ble and Sir­ius satel­lite ra­dio free for 3 months.

One op­tional pack­age that pro­vides an im­pres­sive cast of safety and com­fort char­ac­ters is the Con­fi­dence and Con­ve­nience II pack­age, which runs just over $2,000. It in­cludes: Ven­ti­lated driver and front pas­sen­ger seats, Heated rear seats, Heated steer­ing wheel, Lowspeed for­ward auto brak­ing, For­ward col­li­sion alert, Lane keep as­sist with lane de­par­ture warn­ing, Fol­low­ing dis­tance in­di­ca­tor, Safety alert seat, and adap­tive cruise con­trol.

MPG

Of­fi­cial fuel num­bers on the Equinox are 22 city/28 high­way/24 com­bined. I found those num­bers to be ac­cu­rate in my real-world test­ing, av­er­ag­ing about 25 mpg.

Com­pared to the vast ar­ray of SUVs in this com­pact cat­e­gory, this is about mid-pack. The best ones av­er­age in the up­per 20s, so the Equinox is a few mpg be­hind. Choose the diesel, and you’ll beat ev­ery­one though.

Price, bot­tom line

The Equinox comes in L, LS, LT and Premier trim lev­els. My test ve­hi­cle was an AWD Premier model, and it’s to­tal came in just over $39,000. Base price starts about $24K for the L trim level, but most buy­ers will land in the mid­dle of that range with the LS or LT va­ri­eties.

While it could be ar­gued that the pric­ing is a bit high on the Equinox, there’s no deny­ing that it’s a strong ve­hi­cle that is quick when it needs to be and well-de­signed for the ver­sa­til­ity that SUV buy­ers need.

Num­bers don’t lie, and un­like the sedan side of the busi­ness, GM has a lot to be happy about in their SUV lineup, in­clud­ing the 2019 Equinox.

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