Equinox SUV Design Enhances Aero – Sort of – for a Box

AutoInformed.com on 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

A long walk for a 1 mpg improvement?

Chevrolet notes that with more than 2.7 million sold last year, compact SUVs – aka crossovers like Equinox – are the largest vehicle segment in the U.S. – a trend the Bow-Tie brand is lavishly benefiting from, selling more than 242,000 during 2016.

This is also a global trend. It’s simple – as customers want passenger and cargo space – and a box shape facilities that. The Design and Aerodynamic teams working on the shape of the all-new 2018 Equinox obtained an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the highway for the FWD five-passenger, four-door SUV, but Chevrolet didn’t publish the 26 mpg city rating in the release.  Memo: 2017 Equinox 25 city / 31 hwy.

It’s likely small beer given current gasoline prices. Consider; 2017 Hyundai Tucson; mpg; 23 city / 30 hwy 2017; Kia Sportage ; mpg; 23 city / 30 hwy; 2016 Mazda CX-5 26 city / 34 hwy; 2017 Ford Escape 26 City / 34 hwy; 2017 GMC 21 city / 29 hwy; 2017 Nissan Rogue 26 city / 33 hwy; 2016 Mazda CX-5  26 city / 34 hwy; 2017 GMC Terrain 21 city / 31 hwy; Honda CRV 26 city / 32 hwy. 

“Together we reached the aerodynamic goals intended to give the new Equinox an efficiency-enhancing edge on the highway with the sculpted look and cargo space we set out to achieve,” Claimed Jeff Perkins, Equinox design manager. He was helped by a whopping 400-pound weight reduction, as in Newton’s F=MA. Reducing weigh in this case resulted in a 1 mpg hwy improvement. Hmm. A long walk for…

Aerodynamic performance, of course, is a big contributor to fuel economy given the speeds ‘Mericans drive at when able, but the box-like shapes of crossovers and SUVs are not conducive to aero efficiency. The new Equinox’s overall length was reduced by 4.7 inches, making it easier to park and maneuver. However, interior volume increased by 3.5 cubic feet. The reduced length, though, presented another challenge to aero efficiency, because it is harder to push a shorter shape cleanly through the air.

More than 500 hours in GM’s full-scale wind tunnel produced an exterior that reduces wind resistance by 10% over the outgoing Equinox. New, electronically controlled upper and lower grille shutters account help improve aero performance. They close sometimes on the highway, when engine cooling needs are reduced, pushing more air around the vehicle to reduce drag.

Additional Aero Tweaks

  • A larger rear spoiler was designed to help reduce turbulence at the rear of the vehicle for less wind resistance.
  • The rear corner incorporates a series of incorporated “air trips,” as the designers call them, for optimal air separation at the edges of the tail lamps and corners at the D-pillars.
  • New tire deflectors help achieve the same aerodynamic advantage as a traditional air dam, but are less intrusive of Equinox’s sculpted design.
  • Underbody panels on FWD models improve airflow beneath the vehicle.

2018 Equinox

The all-new 2018 Equinox is a fresh compact SUV, with the (cliche’ alert)  “expressive design,” increased cargo space, the latest connectivity, expanded optional safety features and an all-new range of turbocharged engines, including the segment’s first turbo-diesel. (dead on arrival)

Cargo area has increased, with new storage features such as a large, hidden underfloor storage space and a flat cargo floor that makes loading and unloading easier.

“Purposeful technologies” are designed to help keep passengers safe, comfortable and connected. Teen Driver is also offered, along with new safety features including Safety Alert Seat, Surround Vision, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

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