Easily the best thing about the 2018 Chevy Equinox is the thing that makes it go. Chevy’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine delivers the goods with 252 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Paired with its new 9-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain in the 2018 Equinox is a winner.

The 2018 Equinox has also shed more than 400 pounds, making this powertrain even more potent. A 170-horsepower 1.5-liter is standard, but we loved the power of, and would opt for, the 2.0T engine.

AWD is available, and so is a turbo diesel engine that Chevy says will get you up to 40 highway miles per gallon.

The 2018 Equinox is a capable and confident ride, and if you’re in the market for a compact SUV, the Equinox should absolutely be on your test drive list. It’s Chevrolet’s second-best selling vehicle after the Silverado.

There’s still a lot of hard plastic inside, but Chevy has added soft-touch materials where it counts. The Equinox may be smaller overall, but you’d be hard pressed to notice it inside the cabin.

The test car had durable quilted fabric front seats that adjusted eight ways. Headroom in front is 40 inches, and in the rear seats it’s 38.5 inches. With the panoramic sunroof, headroom is slightly less. In the back seat, the hair atop my 6-foot-1 frame barely brushed the headliner at the edge of the sunroof.

Maximum cargo space is 29.9 cubic feet with the second row in place, and 63.5 cubic feet with row two folded down.

The panoramic sunroof stretches way back over the second row and is part of a $1,995 sun & infotainment package that also includes a luggage rack, Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with an 8-inch diagonal touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a driver info center, a 120v power outlet and multiple charging and access ports. It’s well worth the extra cost, particularly when you consider that the loaded Equinox LT 2.0T starts at just $29,145 (The base L trim starts at $24,525).

For my money, the Equinox is also a nice-looking car with dynamic style, tall shoulders and smart lines. Our test Equinox was painted in the Cajun Red tintcoat, which should be particularly attractive to south Louisianans. It’s a dynamite color that looks like it’s two inches deep. Wheel choices include 17-, 18- and 19-inchers.

On the road, the 2.0-liter engine gives the driver every bit of the power needed for Interstate acceleration or passing big rigs on two-lane highways. The electronic power steering is precise, and the Equinox handled hard corners without much fuss or body roll. There is some torque steer when you mat the pedal of this FWD SUV, but that’s due largely to the abundance of engine power.

The Equinox has a stop-start feature that kills the engine at red lights. Unlike most, though, it can’t be disabled. Still, it’s a feature that helps the Equinox deliver 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway.

Connectivity is via a 7- or 8-inch diagonal MyLink touch screen, and the vehicle is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. MyLink is intuitive and simple to use, especially when you need navigation directions via OnStar. Just call and tell the operator where you want to go, and driving directions are downloaded to your screen.

The rest of the vehicle’s controls are also simple, and there are only about 20 buttons in all, including the hazard button and seat heater buttons.

Safety features on the Equinox, include six standard airbags and a new Teen Driver feature that allows parents to set controls and review their kids’ driving habits. Other standard and available safety features include a safety alert seat, a new surround view camera system, forward collision alert, low-speed automatic braking, lane keep assist, a rear seat reminder to check for kids in car seats, blind spot notification and rear cross traffic alert.

2018 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T

Engine:

2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque:

252/260 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

9-speed automatic

Price:

$29,145 plus freight ($33,480 as tested)

EPA mileage estimates:

22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

432 miles