2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD vs. 2018 Mazda CX-5: A new little crossover vs. and old standard.

This week: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox.

Price: $41,510 as tested (a base model can start under $25,000).

Marketer's pitch: "Everything you need, to do everything you want."

Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend says you'll like the "available diesel version boosts fuel economy, highly connected infotainment system" but not that "maximum cargo space falls short of class leaders, gas-powered models may not be as efficient as others in the segment."

Reality: A step in the right direction.

A welcome update: The old Chevy Equinox ranks up there on Mr. Driver's Seat's list of least-favored vehicles. I once gave back a rental Equinox (circa 2012) because I hated its handling and performance that much.

General Motors had already leaped past that low point with the 2016 GMC Terrain (an Equinox cousin) I tested; it was only forgettable.

I thought perhaps the Equinox would join the redesigned Cruze and Malibu on the short list of Mr. Driver's Seat wonder kids.

Outside: The new Equinox picks up the handsome styling cues of the Malibu and Cruze, kind of a Toyota face but without the anger management issues.

Most surprising was its size: I parked it near the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat's Kia Soul, and the two vehicles were about the same size.

Family favorite: The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kid 4.0 can be tough sells, but they reported favorably of the Equinox after a short time. "Seats are comfy," they both said, and now that 4.0 has stretched to 6 feet, 2 inches, legroom is key.

Up to speed: The test vehicle came with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. It creates 252 horsepower and reaches 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, according to Motor Trend. Turbo lag is nonexistent.

Other engine choices include a 1.5-liter turbo, a V-6, and someday a diesel.

On the road: As a small crossover, the Equinox is not expected to dazzle on the curves, although it would be nice if it did. It holds its own all right, with adequate steering and some body lean on turns. Still, this is a vast improvement over previous years.

The Equinox also evens out bumpy road surfaces nicely.

Shifty: The 9-speed transmission comes with no shift capabilities other than a button on the shift lever. Not sure why that bugs me so much on General Motors vehicles, but it does. Since you're sticking with the geared transmission, let us have a little fun while we can, huh?

Play some tunes: A brighter GM tradition comes via the infotainment system. The map is fairly clear and easy to operate — although the main roads are far bolder on-screen than side roads — and tuning is not bad. A center dial controls volume, and left and right arrows change the station. Not as favored as a pair of dials, but it works fine.

The sound is excellent, even at low volume. This was courtesy of the Bose Premium Sound System, part of the $2,620 Sun and Sound Package, which also included sunroof.

The interior of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox features an intuitive design and takes advantage of the vehicle’s all-new architecture to offer a down-and-away instrument panel.
CHEVROLET
The interior of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox features an intuitive design and takes advantage of the vehicle’s all-new architecture to offer a down-and-away instrument panel.

Keeping warm – and cool: The cooling system has a pair of dials for temperature. Buttons control fan operation, which keeps eyes off the road a lot more than necessary. Mr. Driver's Seat's seat loved the ventilated seats (say that five times fast), a rare find in this vehicle category.

General Motors could stand to update its heating and infotainment interfaces, although I should probably be careful what I wish for.

Friends and stuff: Legroom, headroom, and foot room are all fine, reports the extra-long Sturgis Kid 4.0. The leather-covered seats were great for short or long trips. Cargo space is 29.9 cubic feet but grows to 63.5 with the seats folded down.

Night shift: I found the headlights bright and illuminating, and the interior lights soft and not an interference with the road.

Fuel economy: I averaged just over 25 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat round of testing on suburban and city roads, far better than the 19 in the Terrain's V-6 last year but still nothing to get excited about. Premium fuel is recommended.

Where it's built: Ingersoll, Ontario.

How it's built: Consumer Reports gives the Equinox a predicted reliability of 2 out of 5, which is a severe drop from the 4s and even a 5 over the previous four model years.

Next week: How does it compare with the Mazda CX-5?