By Asian Journal Auto Editor

2018-Chevrolet-EquinoxChevrolet’s popular five-seater Equinox Compact Crossover is back for 2018 with a number of changes. Smaller, lighter, more compact and with a choice of engines, It is also cheaper and more value for money this time around. Exterior changes include a mild restyle and a shorter overall length. It is a pleasing non-polarizing design that will look good, even in a few years’ time.

In Canada, the Equinox features a base 1.5-litre gas engine with a 2.0 liter and a diesel powered unit to follow. Base engine is a 170-horsepower, 1.5-litre turbo. In LS, LT or Premier trim levels, each with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Value for money is a high point, with a base MSRP of $25,195 for the LS FWD, buyers gain as –standard equipment, internet connectivity, push-button start, heated front seats, rear-view camera, 17-inch aluminum wheels and a remote starter.

Technology, upgrades include a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and OnStar with 4G LTE WiFi hotspot are all standard, as is Sirius XM on LT and Premier. The LT and Premier are each available with Comfort & Convenience or True North package that includes features such as a panoramic sunroof, premium Bose audio, hands-free power lift-gate. Various optional alert-and-assist safety technologies in GM’s “Protect” safety suite are available, and include features such as blind-spot, rear cross-traffic and forward-collision alerts, and automatic emergency braking. The upscale Premier model includes such features as dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, power windows, door locks and liftgate, power heated outside mirrors, rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert, blind-zone alert and rear-view camera. We tested the top level – Equinox Premier edition (base priced from $34,195) with the 1.5-liter turbo engine All-Wheel –Drive and the $5,965 True North Edition options pack that offers: power sunroof, 19 inch wheels as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, power windows, door locks and liftgate, power heated outside mirrors, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-zone alert and rear-view camera, Surround vison and a slew of other safety aids. Such as lane departure warning, and driver safety alerts.

The Equinox features an interesting looking cabin with neat design touches. There is upscale feeling of quality with raised stitched detailing in the front dash console, tasteful chrome and a hefty, substantial feeling to the trim. The interior is fairly roomy with good visibility. The smart dash features an instrument cluster with a reconfigurable information display and an excellent eight-inch centre console touchscreen. GM’s — MyLink infotainment systems, interconnectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as an available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot are all supported. The rear split seats tilt and fold forward allowing for a flat rear load floor with up to 1,798L of space. (846L behind the back seat).There is an extra 2.8-cubic-foot storage nook under the rear cargo hold. A hands-free power lift-gate is available, and makes loading and unloading easier.

On the road, the Equinox features good confident handling. In fact, the steering is much tighter and more precise than the previous model. The tester was a high-level Premier version with the base 1.5-litre turbo four, six-speed automatic transmission, and All-Wheel Drive, putting out a creditable 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, the engine offers a zero to 100 km/h time of about 9.5 seconds. Traction to the AWD system’s rear wheels by the way can be disconnected when needed to improve fuel efficiency. With a good engine choice, buyers have options. Haul a lot of passengers and towing a trailer? I would opt for the 2.0L turbo engine with 252 hp/260 lb-ft, and the nine-speed automatic. The interesting awaited 136-hp 1.6L diesel with 236 lb-ft (A segment first) also sounds like an ideal choice as well.

To sum up, there is a lot to commend the new 2018 Equinox, a lighter smaller package increases fuel efficiency. There is a good roster of standard equipment, a decent cabin and good handling. Highly recommended.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox 1.5 AWD Premier Edition. Priced from $34,195. Price as tested with options, destination charge and AC Excise tax- $41,190.