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Chevrolet reveals lighter, more high-tech Equinox

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is revealed during an event in Chicago on Sept. 22, 2016.

Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

It doesn't get a lot of limelight, but the Chevrolet Equinox has long been a strong and steady seller in the hot compact CUV segment — all the more so if you also combine its sales with those of its GMC Terrain fraternal twin.

And now a new one is coming down the pike — cutely revealed to the world on the day of the autumn equinox.

Expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2017, the 2018 Equinox has been "right-sized" for its segment. The previous model was physically larger than all its competitors; the latest is reduced in length by more than 10 cm — a much better fit with its peer group, albeit still somewhat larger than most.

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The other big novelty: a line-up of three turbocharged four-cylinder engines (no more V-6 option) will include a first-in-segment diesel. The 1.6-litre oil-burner will be an alternative to 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre gasoline engines similar to those in the 2016 Malibu. The gas engines will be paired with a new nine-speed automatic, but the diesel will have a six-speed. Even so, GM is predicting a highway fuel-consumption rating of less than 6 litres/100 km.

Despite the exterior downsizing, GM claims passenger volume is increased while a "down-and-away" dashboard design promises good forward visibility. Cargo volume is down a little with the rear seats up, but that doesn't include a substantial hidden compartment under the removable cargo deck; cargo space is virtually unchanged with the seats folded.

Chevrolet touts a "kneeling" seat cushion that helps provide a flat cargo floor, though unlike on the old model the second-row seats are no longer fore-aft adjustable.

Max tow rating, with the 2.0 engine, is 3,500 pounds. GM's engineers also took 180 kilograms of mass out of the vehicle, which sits on a new D2 architecture that is so far unique to this model.

As expected of any new vehicle, the 2018 will be rich in connectivity and driver-assist features. The former will include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and 7- or 8-inch screens; the latter include low-speed forward automatic braking, active lane-keeping assist, surround vision, and GM's unique rear-seat reminder so drivers won't forget they have little 'uns in the rear when they park and leave the vehicle.

The 2018 Equinox will continue to be built in Ingersoll, Ont., as well as in two other U.S. locations.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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