The 2018 Chevy Equinox Diesel Is the Antidote to Dieselphobia

Quiet, quick, and free of scandals, the 2018 Chevy Equinox is a 38 mpg home run.

byMax Goldberg|
Chevrolet Reviews photo

Yesterday, The Drive had the pleasure of going to Teaneck, New Jersey. Here, we drove the 2018 Chevy Equinox with the all-new 1.6-liter turbo diesel. When it was released in Europe last year as an Opel, it was coined the "whisper diesel" in Europe because of impressively quiet idle and acceleration sound. With that in mind, we were excited to see what all the fuss was about.

After speaking with GM engineers, one thing became clear, GM isn't just into diesel technology at the moment, but it plans to add to its already robust diesel lineup. As GM's diesel portfolio continues to grow, the refinement of diesel engine noise and performance has made serious progress.

The EcoTec 1.6-liter turbo diesel in the current Chevy Cruze will now find a home in the 2018 Chevy Equinox. The 137-horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque engine provides plenty of power at all ranges for the compact SUV. Thanks to a variable geometry turbocharger, the EcoTec engine provides a peak torque of 240 lb-ft, but an impressive 214 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm. This allows for minimal to no turbo lag during operation. Although the current diesel Cruze is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission, Chevy found a 6-speed to be equally efficient. With normal driving habits, Chevy is claiming the all-wheel-drive diesel Equinox will achieve 38 mpg on the highway, making it the segment leader. 

Max Goldberg/The Drive

Unfortunately, the gearing and engine configuration doesn't lead to the towing capability you'd expect from a diesel. In fact, Chevy's 1.5-liter gas engine allows the Equinox to tow more than the current rating of 1,500 pounds. However, most owners will be focusing on speed and efficiency rather than towing capability.

Perhaps the most notable trait of the all-new 2018 Chevy Equinox diesel is how quiet it is. Standing outside the car, you can't really tell the compact SUV is a diesel. The vehicle is quiet and void of the combution rattle we have grown accustom to hearing on a diesel vehicle. According to GM, the diesel Equinox is 55% quieter at idle than the diesel Jaguar F-Pace, a vehicle we also enjoyed but are confused to why GM chose to compare to. The "whisper diesel" achieved its quiet characteristics through calculated belt placement, engine covers, decoupled cam cover with rubber-isolated fasteners, intake manifold clamshell cover and much more. The EcoTec diesel engine also utilizes a variety of recirculation and filtration devices to ensure the engine meets the stringent US emissions standards. One of the more interesting features is particulate trap (big reservoir seen below) that captures particulate until full and then self-cleans (burns particulate). 

Max Goldberg/The Drive

For those of you who live in a colder environment, the Equinox's engine is designed to flawlessly start at temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit, and customers will not need to cycle glow plugs at this temperature. The 2018 Chevy Equinox diesel utilizes push-to-start technology with all starting procedures integrated into the simple start button. Speaking of starting, the Equinox also utilizes a start/stop system to further improve efficiency. Although diesel already burns minimal amounts of diesel at idle, GM engineers insist they squeeze enough additional efficiency to justify the device.

When driving the Equinox, we were impressed with how peppy and responsive the vehicle felt off the line. The little 1.6-liter engine gave us its all and never complained with unsettling grown or sputters. For all intents and purposes, the Equinox behaved like the gas variant, but yielded better mpg. If you are okay with spending a little more money right out the gate, but plan to do a considerable amount of driving, the 2018 Chevy Equinox diesel is right for you. Plus, Chevy will do your first two DEF refills (every 5,000 miles) for free. GM hopes to gain loyalty of previous diesel owners who have drifted away from diesel vehicles over the past few years as a result of the recent negativity. If our input means anything, we strongly feel this compact SUV will cure any diesel phobia consumers may have taken on in recent years.

Expect the 2018 Chevy Equinox diesel to hit dealerships in the next two weeks.

Max Goldberg/The Drive

Price: $33,930

Powertrain: 1.6-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder, 137 horsepower & 240 lb-ft of torque

Fuel Economy:  28 mpg city / 38 mpg highway

Notable stats: 55 percent quieter at idle than the Jaguar F-Type diesel

Random fact of your choosing: surprisingly fun to drive thanks to a variable geometry turbocharger