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First drive: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in Oman

Keeping in mind the current trend of crossovers becoming the most popular type of vehicle among car buyers, Chevrolet recently launched the all-new 2018 Equinox for the Middle East market. Chevrolet will be hoping the Equinox proves to be just as popular as it is in the United States, where it is their best-selling vehicle, only behind the Silverado. It will replace the Korean-built Captiva, which never quite gained a foothold here.

Looking at the exterior, the Equinox keeps it simple, but attractive. The front fascia gets a large grille with the headlamps wrapped around the sides. Daytime running lamps are standard on all models with only the top “Premier” model getting the cool LED headlights. Fog-lamps on the lower bumper are standard too. The C-pillar is painted in body-colour, while the D-pillar is painted black. The rear gets LED taillamps extended horizontally on to the rear door. The Premier model only gets the dual-exhaust system which looks more pleasing than the single outlet exhaust on the lower models.

The interior gets all the latest creature comforts, with Chevrolet’s MyLink system with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connectivity as standard across the range. Our Premier trim model test car had the 8-inch screen, 9-speaker Bose audio system and more USB ports. Our Premier model had ventilated seats which certainly helped during our humid afternoon test-drive, and we kept the panoramic roof cover mostly open to let in some of the sunlight coming through on a cloudy day in Salalah. Rear legroom is adequate and could easily seat three adults. Trunk space is big and one of the best in its class. The one-touch rear folding seats are a very handy feature to have when you need that extra space. Higher trims get the handsfree trunk opening feature, which opens or closes by waving the foot beneath the rear bumper.

The Equinox certainly comes at the right time as consumers become more fuel conscious. Under the hood, it can be had with two 4-cylinder turbocharged engine options.

The base 1.5-litre turbo produces 170 hp and 273 Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. According to GM, the front-wheel-drive model has a fuel economy of just 6.7 litres/100 km. Chevy claims it can do 0-100 kph in 9 seconds.

The higher model gets the 2.0-litre turbo engine, which churns out 250 hp and 353 Nm of torque, mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. Available only in all-wheel-drive, it is said to do an impressive 7.4 litres/100 km in terms of fuel economy, aided by the engine auto start/stop feature. It can sprint from 0-100 kph in a claimed 7.3 seconds.

Having a go at both cars in the hilly roads of Salalah, the 2.0 was obviously the better performer, with ample torque available at the tap of the accelerator and no throttle delay. The 1.5-litre was fine in the city, but it did need much more throttle sometimes while driving uphill on the mountains.

We switched between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive modes in the 1.5-litre and instantly felt the difference in traction during slightly more spirited driving, especially during our test-drive since the roads were a little damp from the heavy fog and slight rain. The car just feels more planted and gives you that extra bit of confidence. We didn’t push it further in these conditions so we can’t really talk much about the handling.

The ride quality of the Equinox is certainly tailored to be comfortable and nicely soaked up the bumps on the Salalah mountain roads. The engine and tyre noise were within respectable levels, thanks in part to the Equinox having active noise cancellation as standard. More engine noise was heard in the 1.5-litre due to the fact we had to rev it harder up certain roads. Wind noise is generally low but starts to creep up at speeds above 100 kph.

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox offers a very good package, especially the 2.0-litre turbo model. And with prices starting from Dhs 77,000 for the 1.5-litre turbo in the UAE, combined with competitive service costs, it definitely has the right selling points to go up against the dominant Koreans and Japanese in this segment.

For GCC prices and specs, visit the Chevrolet buyer guide.

Photos by Chevrolet

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