Many vehicles nowadays are turning towards using hybrid or full electric technology to save on fuel, and the ever-popular SUV and crossover segment has caught on with this trend. In the compact SUV segment, such examples include the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (reviewed here), Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Kia Niro, and two all-new offerings from Toyota, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the Lexus UX.
The Chevrolet Equinox, along with its GMC Terrain (reviewed here) brethren, is GM’s answer to the onslaught of hybrid vehicles in this compact SUV segment. The benefit to using diesel instead of traditional gasoline to power engines is for superb highway efficiency and greater overall range. Its highway fuel economy is comparable to cars that are propelled using a hybrid system, with more usable towing capabilities. We borrowed a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox Premier Diesel AWD, painted in Pacific Blue Metallic colour, for a road test to see how it fares against its gasoline and hybrid-powered competition.
The Chevrolet Equinox Premier is a decent-looking vehicle, with balanced proportions that gives it a proper modern SUV look. Size-wise, it is a little bit bigger than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and smaller than the unsightly Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. With the help of LED lighting, chrome styling bits and optional 19” five-spoke wheels, the third generation 2019 Equinox is leaps and bounds more handsome than the previous generation’s rental car look. It will not win any styling awards, but it is a vehicle that can look the part for the occasional night out in the city.
The Equinox is powered by a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s rated at 137 horsepower at 3,750RPM, and a powerful torque output of 240 lb-ft. at 2,000RPM. Getting off the line from a standstill is rather effortless thanks to the massive torque output, a characteristic of a diesel engine, and the Equinox can easily keep pace with traffic thanks to smooth shifting by thes six-speed transmission. While it picks up off the line, this diesel does run out of breath rather quickly as it approaches its 5,000RPM redline.
Drivers can select to have power delivered to the Equinox’s front wheels only, or sent to all four wheels by pressing an “AWD” switch located above the shifter. For drivers who disabled all-wheel-drive mode to save on fuel, the Equinox will recommend drivers to turn it back on when the road conditions warrant it. This customizable feature is rather unique in the segment and we had taken advantage of it a fair bit during our test week, only using AWD when necessary in hopes for achieving better overall fuel economy.
The Equinox Diesel is rated at 8.5L/100km in the city, 6.1L/100km on the highway, and a combined figure of 7.4L/100km. Our test week consisted of a heavy city commute, the type of environment that puts diesel vehicles at a disadvantage when compared to gasoline powered ones, and we observed slightly worse than rated 9.1L/100km. We have no doubt that the Equinox Diesel will shine on the highway, and allow its owners to take advantage of the impressive 967 km highway cruising range using its surprisingly small 59L fuel tank.
Driving the Equinox Diesel is an effortless experience. The steering weight is moderate, and the handling can be considered average for its class. There are no adjustable drive modes, not that we expect any of the Equinox Diesel’s target buyers to be too disappointed about that, nor do we expect them to use the “+/-“ switch on the shifter to manually shift the vehicle. Those who want to tow with the Equinox Diesel will be delighted to learn about its 3,500-pound towing capacity.
The interior layout is simple and practical. The all-black interior is pleasing to the eyes, and the leather used on the heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats feels premium to the touch. Hard plastics are kept to a minimal, and the design of the brushed chrome air vents adds a dash of class to the interior. There is ample of head and legroom available inside the cabin, and the optional sunroof helps brighten up the interior. The seats could use a bit more cushioning and thigh support but it would not be considered uncomfortable by any measure. The Equinox will hold 847L of cargo behind the rear seats, slightly below average in its class.
The automatic dual-zone climate control unit makes up most of the buttons on the centre console, and the rest of the Equinox’s features are controlled using the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment with GPS navigation. Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment is intuitive to use, touch response is sensitive and commonly used functions are found within a couple of clicks from the home page. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, and 4G-LTE WiFi connectivity are included as standard equipment. Our tester was equipped with the optional Bose premium sound system.
The Equinox Premier comes with a full suite of safety equipment, including rear cross-traffic alert, side blind zone, lane change alert systems, an HD rear vision camera with optional HD surround vision, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, front pedestrian braking, and Intellibeam automatic high-beam control. The Equinox’s High Definition rear and round-view camera continues to be the amongst the clearest and most confidence inspiring systems in the industry.
The 2019 Equinox starts at $26,700 for the FWD LS model, and $29,100 for the base AWD LS model. Our as-tested Premier Diesel trim starts at $38,200, and is further equipped with the Truth North package ($4,250). It is also dressed up by a four-season Truth North (19”) wheel and tire package ($2,790), and Pacific Blue Metallic paint ($495); bringing the as-tested total to $45,970. Those who do not travel extensively on the highway and want to save some money on the invoice should consider the 1.5L gas engine. If you need a car that can hustle, give the 2.0L turbocharged gas engine with 252 horsepower a long, hard look.
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel Premier AWD represents an interesting choice in the compact SUV segment. It’s not for everyone and the main benefits is limited to highway warriors, but the Equinox Diesel is a fine vehicle for this demographic and deserves strong consideration. Buyers will enjoy excellent fuel economy and longer periods between the fuel pumps, and will not be making any compromises in terms of comfort and driving dynamics.