2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossover: only turbo engines, diesel optional

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The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossover utility vehicle, unveiled last night in Chicago, will have three engine options, all turbocharged.

And bucking recent "death of diesel" predictions, one of those three will be a 1.6-liter diesel that gets a 40-mpg highway rating.

The 2018 Equinox will be the first compact utility vehicle in the U.S. with a turbodiesel option, showing Chevy plans to forge ahead with its passenger diesel plans despite the ongoing VW diesel emission scandal.

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The new diesel Equinox will be GM's fourth light vehicle fitted with a turbodiesel engine as an option, following the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup trucks and the upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

The two pickups, released a year ago right as the VW scandal broke, received a special letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that essentially underlined their conformity to applicable emission regulations.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Enlarge Photo

The 2018 Equinox, which rides on a newer generation of GM's small-vehicle platform, will use the diesel as the flagship powertrain in its lineup of three:

  • Base: 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque.
  • Mid-level: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, with outputs of 252 hp and 260 lb-ft.
  • Diesel: 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel, producing 136 hp and 236 lb-ft.

Complete estimated EPA fuel-economy ratings aren't yet available for the new Equinox SUV; Chevrolet revealed only its highway estimates (always the highest for non-electrified vehicles).

ALSO SEE: 2016 Hyundai Tucson: First Drive Of New Compact Crossover SUV (Jul 2015)

The base 1.5-liter is estimated at 31 mpg highway, the 2.0-liter comes in at an estimated 28 mpg highway, and the diesel hits that 40 mpg highway.

Par for the course among high-volume crossovers, the engines will be paired with automatic transmissions only.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Enlarge Photo

The turbodiesel and the base 1.5-liter get 6-speed automatics, while the 2.0-liter gas engine exclusively gets a 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option.

The AWD system will disconnect its driveshaft under some circumstances to boost fuel economy.

The new crossover's look keeps a similar roofline to the current model; it's evolutionary, rather than the sharp step forward represented by the outgoing model, launched for 2010.

Its front end benefits from hundreds of hours of wind-tunnel work, combining style elements from the latest Chevy Cruze and Malibu sedans in a taller, less aerodynamic shape.

A new structure saves 400 pounds over the current Equinox, part of it likely due to the fact that the new Equinox is roughly 4 inches shorter than its predecessor, at 183 inches long.

Inside, the expected dual cowl-dashboard hosts familiar Chevy switchgear, including the Intellilink infotainment system.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Enlarge Photo

A 7.0-inch screen is standard in the 2018 Equinox, which also offers an 8.0-inch display that wraps in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as GM's OnStar and a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot.

Competitors in the high-volume five-seat compact crossover segment include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and other entries from virtually every mass maker selling in the U.S. today.

CHECK OUT: Ten Compact Crossovers With Great Gas Mileage (Aug 2014)

Interior features highlighted by Chevy at last night's launch include a so-called kneeling rear seat cushion that tilts forward when the seat backs are lowered.

That provides the fully flat floor that's a strong selling point among small SUVs.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Enlarge Photo

Available safety features include low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Reflecting the strong competition among carmakers on the safety front, however, it's worth noting that Toyota has made its entire suite of safety equipment—including pedestrian detection—standard across much of its 2017 lineup.

More details on the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox—including specific trim levels, features, and pricing—will be announced closer to its February on-sale date.

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