Diesel engines have, in recent years, taken quite a public relations beating in North America. Their reputation took a hit due to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, many consumers having concluded that the automakers had to cheat to meet environmental standards with these powertrains. So why would General Motors take an interest in compression ignition technology, especially when you remember that the failure of the diesel engines produced by GM’s Oldsmobile division in the 1980s had significantly set back development of the technology? Well it seems that the American automaker has decided to turn the page on the past; it is offering consumers a 4-cylinder diesel in the new generation of the Chevrolet Equinox, which is being introduced this year.
This time, we’re not dealing with a mere esthetic makeover of an existing model, or a recycling of an old engine tweaked in hopes of convincing consumers of its modern newness. On the contrary, the new compact SUV is built on the all-new Delta platform; its wheelbase is shorter by 13.2 cm and its total length has been cut by 12 cm. Another notable change is the use of ultra-light rigid steel and aluminum components, which has brought the vehicle’s weight down by some 180 kg in comparison with its predecessor.
More sophisticated look
The style team assigned to the new version of this versatile utility vehicle did not attempt to innovate in spectacular fashion in regards to its appearance. The contours remain within the framework of what’s standard for the category, though the front end is somewhat more refined, the back pillars are much narrower and incline frontward, and the rear section features more imposing position and brake lights. These all tie in with current trends, but they’re not head-turning innovations. In a sense that’s probably wise - the relatively conservative lines of the new Equinox should age well.
The interior of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox retains the same overall disposition, with a central screen framed by ventilation slots, and the A/C commands placed underneath. The indicator dials are separated by an information centre that proves highly practical, especially when the navigation system is activated. Kudos to the latter, by the way, for being so simple, efficient and accurate.
A trio of more-efficient engines
It was possible to order the previous-generation Equinox with a V6, but GM has abandoned it and offers instead three different 4-cylinder engines. The most economical trims are powered by a 1.5L, 170-hp turbo diesel engine wedded to a 6-speed automatic transmission. I found it serviceable but sometimes lacking in pep when time came to overtake other vehicles, or when the SUV was loaded down with cargo. The engine that consumers will likely get the most satisfaction from is the 2.0L, 250-hp turbo diesel. Acceleration with this setup is quite a bit more vigorous; acceleration from 0-100 km/h, for example, takes under seven seconds. What’s more, the towing capacity with this engine climbs to 3,500 lbs, possibly a big selling point for many.