Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of Chevrolet.

Photo of 2018 Equinox courtesy of Chevrolet.

Chevrolet's diesel-powered 2018 Equinox compact SUV is expected to go on sale in late summer before the arrival of the diesel-powered 2017 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV, Chevrolet's marketing director said.

The introduction of the diesel SUVs should present a litmus test for consumer and fleet purchasing of light-duty diesels in the wake of Volkswagen's exit from the powertrain category following its emissions scandal.

Chevrolet is viewing the diesel market as a potential opportunity for the company to accumulate sales from competitors exiting the segment, Steve Majoros, Chevrolet's marketing director, told journalists in Asheville, N.C. during an event where automotive journalists drove the gasoline-powered Equinox.

For this third-generation vehicle, GM Fleet will increase its allocation of 2018 Equinox SUVs for commercial and other fleet buyers, Majoros said.

General Mills and other commercial fleets have added the Equinox for functions such as managers, sales professionals and pharmaceutical representatives. They’re also being used for laboratory sample pickup and delivery, said Rita Kass-Shamoun, a GM Fleet spokesperson.

Chevrolet is offering its significantly revamped 2018 Equinox with three powertrains, including a turbocharged 1.5L four cylinder that makes 170 hp paired with a 6-speed automatic, turbocharged 2.0L four cylinder rated at 252 hp that's paired with a 9-speed automatic. The base Equinox is available now, while the 2.0L will arrive in the summer.

Fleet customers have shown "some interest" in the diesel, Kass-Shamoun said.

"We’ll have a better understanding of customer reactions when we can release details on price and fuel economy — that will help fleets determine lifecycle costs of the diesel versus gas engine per their unique needs," Kass-Shamoun said. "For example, we anticipate interest from fleet customers who incur high mileage on their vehicles. The diesel option provides the fuel economy they're seeking and could support a lower total cost of ownership."

The 2018 Equinox reduces weight by about 400 pounds from the outgoing vehicle in the redesign and improves connectivity, safety technology, and adaptive crash avoidance features.

A 1.6L turbo-diesel that makes 136 hp will be paired with a 6-speed automatic. It's expected to achieve 40 mpg on the highway.

The Equinox is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel model includes a button above the shifter that allows drivers to toggle between modes, even while the vehicle is in motion.

Mazda is also offering three four-cylinder engines with its 2017 CX-5, including the diesel SkyActiv-D 2.2L that the company says will make the compact SUV one of the most fuel-efficient available. Carryover engines include the 2.0L (155 hp) and 2.5L (184 hp) direct-injection gasoline engines.

Mazda's diesel-powered CX-5 should be on sale before the end of the year, said Jacob Brown, a Mazda spokesman.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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