The first thing that popped into my head while driving the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was “solid.” That’s “solid” as in the feeling of stability behind the wheel. Chevy is famous for saying “like a rock” of its full-size pickup trucks, but I’d say “like a tank” when it comes to the Equinox SUV crossover I drove—and I mean that as a compliment.
There is a … well … heaviness to the stable drive the Equinox offers, no doubt thanks to the StabiliTrak stability and traction control system. This provides the driver with the the same feeling of safety a child experiences while wrapped in the burly arms of his father (or other burly armed guardian of any sex … don’t judge!).
That alone should make my test ride a natural fit for young families, especially when they also consider it gets a respectable 25 mpg combined (22 city, 29 highway). But the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine is no slouch. Making multiple jaunts across three Southern California counties at various times of the day recently, I had no trouble gunning it around slow pokes and keeping up with the Lightning McQueens.
The trip up and down the gears of the front-wheel drive, nine-speed shiftable automatic transmission was super smooth. I recall thinking to myself during one long, dark stretch filled with the snores of my passengers, “It’s as if this thing is driving itself.” (Eat it, Ponch, I resisted the urge to join the nappers.)
The liftgate—which, let’s face it, you will be opening and closing A LOT if you have a young family—opens with your keyless remote and closes with either the remote or a button overhead on the liftgate’s inside frame, that is it does if you get the extras package that includes these two words: power liftgate. How ever you open the liftgate, it exposes a generous amount of trunk space, so much so that it appears ready for a third row of seats should your family expand, you damn breeders.
Several other standard features should appeal to those hauling broods. The rear glass is tinted to protect those sitting in the back, split-folding seats (with center armrest) from the unrelenting SoCal sun. There are air conditioning vents facing riders in the front or back, and my test Equinox had a dual zone, automatic climate control air conditioner that was part of the extras package.
For safety’s sake, parents will appreciate the rear-vision camera, the four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, the high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and this array of air bags: dual-stage, frontal, driver and right front passenger with passenger sensing system, thorax side-impact, seat mounted, driver and right front passenger, head curtain, side front and rear outboard seating positions.
Once one of those kids in the back is old enough, you can deploy the Teen Driver Mode, a configurable feature that lets you customize vehicle settings associated with a key fob to encourage safe driving behavior. It can limit certain vehicle features and prevent safety systems from being turned off. An in-vehicle report gives you information on your teen’s driving habits so … NO EXCUSES, BILLY!
Dealing with a teen driver is going to up the requirement for the main driver to stay as calm and comfortable as possible. Fortunately, the cushy, power driver seat has eight adjustment settings and two-way lumbar support. The ignition is keyless; you start the Equinox with the push of a button, another standard feature that has me thinking Chevy is paying attention to the Korean competition that has included stuff like this as standard for years. For instance, the outside mirrors are heated, power adjustable and … standard!
The controls of the steering wheel show up with the audio controls, phone interface and other driver information on the seven-inch diagonal color touch-screen monitor in the middle of the dash. The standard audio system includes six speakers, the Chevrolet MyLink Radio with AM/FM stereo and Bluetooth that connects with most cellphones (and featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability).
Equinox is among nearly all of the 2018 GM models with SiriusXM satellite radio being a … drum roll, please … standard feature. After three months of the complementary All Access trial subscription to SiriusXM and its more than 150 channels of news, sports, entertainment and commercial-free music, you can choose whether to pay for the service that includes an app and online accessibility so you can hear it anywhere.
Also featured on the model is GM’s OnStar, which acts as a link to existing emergency service providers, and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, both of which connect to the Internet at 4G LTE speeds. Like the satellite-radio system, the OnStar comes with a free data trial for three months or 3GB (whichever comes first), after which you can become a subscriber.
The basic warranty is for three years or 36,000 miles. Bumper-to-bumper it’s five years or 60,000 miles. Included are roadside assistance, courtesy transportation and two maintenance visits with oil and filter changes and 27-point inspections.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD LT 2.0L with only the standard features is $29,145. My test ride had a $395 Cajun Red tint coat, an $895 destination charge and $1,945 in extras—including remote vehicle start, heated front seats, universal home remote, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear park assist, side blind zone and rear cross traffic alerts and the aforementioned power liftgate and dual zone air conditioning—that pushed the MSRP up to $32,380.