Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of GM.

Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of GM.

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox brings a newfound confidence to its third-generation as a 400-pound-lighter compact SUV in a very competitive category. Chevrolet has said it will increase the allocation to fleet buyers.

Chevrolet engineers reworked the Equinox from stem to stern, delivering a vehicle with plenty of handling improvements, safety features, and connectivity to spare in addition to lightening the load.

Discontinuing the prior model's V-6 engine option allowed engineers to rework the vehicle as a more nimble package for a trio of turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants that will include a diesel option set to arrive in the late summer.

Equinox engines include a 1.5L (170 hp) paired with a 6-speed automatic, 2.0L (252 hp) with a 9-speed automatic, and 1.6L diesel (136 hp) with the 6-speed automatic.

Fuel economy numbers are impressive. The base 1.5L with front-wheel drive provides 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in the city. Operating the vehicle in all-wheel mode lowers each number by 2 mpg. This Equinox offers a button located just above the shifter that allows a driver to engage all-wheel mode at any time, including while the vehicle is in motion.

Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of GM.

Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of GM.

We had a chance to drive the Equinox with the 1.5L engine about 200 miles from Greenville, S.C., to Asheville, N.C., and back during a two-day ride-and-drive with other automotive journalists. Part of the route included the Blue Ridge Parkway, a windy, scenic drive near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the N.C.-Tennessee border.

Chevrolet is offering four trim grades, including L, LS, LT, and Premier. We mostly drive Premiers that retail for at least $30,790. The base L would start at $24,475.

The spacious cabin includes several upgrades, including a new 8-inch center screen that's angled to 11 degrees for an optimal viewing angle. A MyLink infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay.

Chevrolet also raised the arm rest and made it flatter and wider, which could help a sales rep who needs to jot down information or fill out an order while sitting in the parked vehicle.

The Equinox offers excellent rear storage with 63.5 cubic feet when the second row seats are folded down.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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