Those looking for a fuel efficient compact crossover may be drawn to hybrid models, like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Nissan Rogue Hybrid, but are there any other options if you want a fuel efficient crossover? While the word diesel may be a dirty word on the other side of the Atlantic, here in the U.S. we’re seeing a small rebirth with diesel engines now showing up under the hood of several models from the Big 3. Chevy has been leading this front with diesel powered versions of the Chevy Cruze and now we have the diesel powered Chevy Equinox.
The Equinox Diesel is powered by the same 1.6L four-cylinder turbodiesel as the Cruze and just like the Cruze, the only way you can tell that there’s a diesel under the hood is the TD badge on the liftgate. The 1.6L in the Equinox is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and buyers can choose either front- or all-wheel drive. With 137 horsepower and a healthy 240 lb-ft. of torque, the small four-cylinder is one torquey engine. Now for the best part, the front-wheel drive Equinox Diesel is rated at 28/39 mpg, while the all-wheel drive version is rated at 28/38 mpg. The Equinox Diesel is less fuel efficient around town than the RAV4 Hybrid, but is way more efficient on the highway, since the RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 34/30 mpg. The Equinox Diesel also beats the Rogue Hybrid on the highway with its 33/35 mpg rating.
On the road, the Equinox Diesel accelerates from stops with ease and there’s plenty of sound deadening material to prevent the sounds of the oil burner from entering the cabin. While the Equinox Diesel may have a torque rich engine, it’s slightly let down by its six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is obviously geared more for fuel efficiency with early upshifts and slow downshifts. A manual would easily solve this problem, but clearly it would have a very low take rate in this class.
Once you’re moving down the road, you’ll notice that the Equinox Diesel is tuned more for comfort than sport. The suspension manages to swallow the roads imperfections, but without the firmness that you’d want when the road gets a bit twisty. The steering is also a bit light and the diesel engine does fall a bit short in terms of sheer power. Floor it hard from a stop and you’re left a bit unsatisfied.
Inside the Equinox’s cabin isn’t the best. Our LT tester, the lower end of the two available trim levels for the Equinox Diesel, felt a bit drab. The cabin featured lower quality materials than we expected and the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system felt a few years old, but it does have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. If you’re looking for a crossover with a more stylish/ luxurious interior, check out the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V.
The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel starts at $31,195 for the LT trim level, a $3,900 premium over the 1.5L LT. If you add all-wheel drive that will add an extra $1,700 to the price. To compare the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid only comes with all-wheel drive and it starts at $27,235.
While the Equinox Diesel start a bit higher RAV4 Hybrid, it does represent a strong alternative and is also more efficient on the highway. If you spend most of your time navigating the urban jungle, then the RAV4 Hybrid will be the better option, since it’s more efficient in the city, but if you spend more time on the open highway the Equinox Diesel is your crossover.