The spanking-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox made a pretty good first impression when we drove the 1.5-liter powertrain that’s expected to account for three-quarters of sales of the popular midsize CUV. Praise was heaped upon its impressively lightened, taut, and responsive chassis; it has sleek looks inside and out and impressive feature content. Our biggest gripe during that drive was with the aging six-speed automatic and its strong contribution to what turned out to be pretty middling performance a month.
These problems, it turns out, are a snap to fix: simply tick the order box marked 2LT on either the middle LT or top-drawer Premier trim level. Doing so adds a half-liter of displacement to the turbocharged four-banger and three ratios to the transaxle. This harnesses an extra 82 horses and 59 lb-ft of torque and magnifies the transmission’s leverage considerably. Chevy quantifies the improvement by estimating the juicier powertrain will drop 0–60 times by 2 seconds from the 9.2 we measured on the 1.5-liter six-speed (comparing front-drive models). And although folks shopping for midsize crossovers might not obsess over 0–60 or quarter-mile times, any nuclear family with a cargo hold full of weekend gear will appreciate the comparative effortlessness with which the 2.0-liter Equinox leaps around long semis on a two-lane road. Even driving with only two people onboard, the 1.5-liter had me looking for super long openings and/or hoping for downhill opportunities with a tailwind.