When we tested the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox last year with its base 1.5-liter gas turbo-four, we came away with mixed feelings. The engine was good, but the transmission frequently wanted to get to the highest gear, kicking you out of the turbo-four’s powerband. Now, we’ve got another 2018 Equinox, this one powered by a 1.6-liter turbodiesel I-4. We tested the new Equinox diesel to find out how much the extra torque really improves the driving experience.
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox diesel, which wears a TD badge on its liftgate, shares the same 1.6-liter turbodiesel I-4 with the Cruze TD and the GMC Terrain diesel, which means you have 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque on tap. Like the Terrain, the Equinox TD comes with a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the nine-speed in the Cruze TD. At the track, the 2018 Equinox TD hit 60 mph in 9.0 seconds flat and completed the quarter mile in 16.9 seconds at 81 mph, which is on the slower side of the segment. Road test editor Chris Walton noted that with traction control disabled, it’s easy to spin the front tires. Putting the car in all-wheel-drive mode, however, slows it down. Walton liked that the transmission upshifts smoothly and that the start/stop system is surprisingly unobtrusive in this application.
Stopping from 60 mph took 124 feet, and Walton observed that despite the hard tires, a firm pedal, and smelly brakes after four passes, the 2018 Equinox TD’s braking performance was consistent. The Equinox TD finished the figure-eight course in 28.0 seconds with a 0.59 g average and generated 0.81 g of lateral acceleration on the skidpad. Testing director and figure-eight guru Kim Reynolds noted that even with all the electronic nannies off, they’re still intervening slightly. Reynolds also observed plenty of understeer, which he says can be mitigated by turning in slightly at the end of braking. The diesel engine also lacked power, and the brake pedal felt spongy and lacked feel.
Out on the streets of Los Angeles, it became clear that the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox diesel was tuned primarily for comfort because its suspension absorbs imperfections well and keeps the cabin civilized. The 17-inch alloy wheels and tires with tall sidewalls help, as well, dispatching sharp bumps and potholes with ease. All of that comfort does come at the cost of handling, however, as the Equinox TD isn’t the most agile compact crossover and won’t match the likes of the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 when the road starts twisting. Although it does feel secure through turns, the Equinox TD is happier cruising on a long stretch of highway or on city streets.
Like the Cruze TD we recently tested, the Equinox TD’s 240 lb-ft of torque make passing traffic and getting up hills not an issue. You do have to deal with a bit of turbo lag, and there is some torque steer in front-drive mode that’s most apparent when you step on it from a stand still. The six-speed automatic isn’t as frustrating in this application because the generous amount of torque allows the gearbox to stay in higher gears but still gives you the necessary passing power. However, like other applications, this transmission is still stingy with downshifts, and it will take a few seconds to give you one after you’ve buried your foot into the accelerator pedal.
You’d expect that the 2018 Equinox TD to have excellent fuel economy and you’d be right. The front-drive model is EPA-rated at 28/39 mpg city/highway and the all-wheel drive model checks in at 28/38 mpg. During our testing, the front-drive model was put through Real MPG’s evaluations and the results were an impressive 33.1/46.7 mpg, making this oil-burning family car one of the most fuel efficient crossovers we’ve tested.
On the road, the Equinox TD is smooth and silent, and unlike in the Cruze TD, there’s minimal powertrain vibrations penetrating the cabin. Tire noise is kept to a minimum even on rough surfaces, but because of its boxy shape, the Equinox TD suffers from a bit of wind noise at high speeds. Visibility out of the diesel-powered 2018 Equinox is excellent, thanks to its large windows and low beltline. The generous glass area also gives the crossover’s cabin an airy feel, making it less claustrophobic. An optional panoramic sunroof further gives the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox TD’s interior a sense of spaciousness.
You’d think that with the addition of a diesel exhaust fluid tank that the 2018 Equinox TD would have less space, but the crossover retains the same cabin with 29.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row that can be expanded to 63.5 cubic feet — those numbers are decent, but no match for the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V. Passenger space is similar to the gas-powered Equinox with generous front and rear accommodations—with the latter being notable, thanks to its flat floor. The front seats feel flat, so it might take some time to get comfortable. Convenience features such as 60/40 split-folding rear seats that can be folded via levers in the cargo area and make the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox TD more family-friendly.
Our test car was an LT trim (one of two that’s available with the diesel engine), and it came with a whole host of features including HID headlights, heated front seats, keyless entry/start, remote start, rear parking sensors, lane change assist, and blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. Build quality on our tester could have been better, as there were misaligned panels on the center stack and door panels. There are padded surfaces in areas where your arms would fall, but they’re surrounded by hard plastic.
Our tester came with an older version of Chevrolet’s MyLink interface with a 7.0-inch touchscreen instead of the version offered in a package and with the Premier trim on a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen. The icons on the system with the 7.0-inch screen are smaller, and some of the functions are buried in menus. Playing music from a flash drive plugged into the main USB port, for example, requires you to hit the media button and then the menu button on the bottom right before you can choose between artists, albums, and playlists.
Thankfully, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration come standard even with the base infotainment system, allowing you to save yourself the trouble of using a finicky interface. As with other Chevrolet models, Android Auto gives you plenty of functionality from Google Maps and Waze to Spotify and Google Music. As in other vehicles, you can’t access your entire music library and contact list while Android Auto is active. Voice command is toggled by holding the voice command button on the steering wheel for a few seconds. Nearly everything can be controlled through voice commands including sending a text to someone via speech. Additionally, you can treat the app like a smart speaker à la Google Home or Amazon Echo so you can ask everything from the weather, directions to the best restaurant in the area, and even tell you a fun fact.
At $33,385 as tested, our all-wheel-drive 2018 Chevrolet Equinox TD LT is expensive, a premium of $3,890 over a similar Equinox LT with the 1.5-liter turbo-four. That premium does get you better fuel economy at 28/38 mpg in all-wheel-drive models (28/39 mpg for front-drive models), which means you’ll travel farther before you’ll need to fill up. Is it worth it though? Unless you’re a diehard diesel enthusiast, it might not be. In this class, until Mazda introduces a diesel-powered CX-5, the only options are the Equinox and GMC Terrain diesels. If you insist on a diesel crossover instead of a less efficient option such as the Honda CR-V, our 2018 SUV of the Year, or the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, you’ll get a torquey engine, great fuel economy, and a comfortable crossover. Make sure to get the Sun & Infotainment package because for a better infotainment system, additional USB ports, and an upgraded multi-information display to boot.
|2018 Chevrolet Equinox TD AWD LT|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$33,385|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.6L/137-hp*/240-lb-ft* turbodiesel DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,631 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.1 x 72.6 x 65.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.9 sec @ 81.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||124 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.0 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||28/38/32 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||135/99 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.70 lb/mile|