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Reimagined compact SUV balances style, efficiency with wind tunnel-tuned design
DETROIT — With more than 2.7 million sold last year, compact SUVs are the largest vehicle segment in the U.S., and customers want passenger and cargo space that fits their lifestyle without compromising on fuel efficiency.
That was the task for the Design and Aerodynamic teams working on the shape of the all-new 2018 Equinox: to create an all-new compact SUV that is a perfect balance of style, function and efficiency.
“Working closely with the aerodynamics team, we were able to craft a final design that is the ultimate win-win scenario,” said Jeff Perkins, Equinox design manager. “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.”
The 2018 Equinox offers an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the highway (FWD models).
The teams took great care in creating a refined new vehicle shape that maintains the key proportions of a small crossover/SUV. In addition to delivering the utility and functionality customers look for in the segment, the Equinox’s expressive exterior has a lean, sculpted form sporting Chevrolet’s signature design cues.
“Aerodynamic performance is a big contributor to fuel economy, but the box-like shapes of crossovers and SUVs are not conducive to aero efficiency,” said Nick Lico, Global Aerodynamics development lead. “Working with Design, we were able to craft an athletic shape that is both attractive and segment-leading in aero efficiency.”
The new Equinox’s overall length was reduced by 4.7 inches to further right-size the vehicle for customers, making it easier to park and maneuver. Despite the smaller exterior dimensions, interior volume
increased by 3.5 cubic feet. The reduced length, however, posed another challenge to aero efficiency, because it is tougher to push a shorter shape cleanly through the air.
More than 500 hours in GM’s full-scale wind tunnel produced an exterior that not only maintains the essence of the intended design, but reduces wind resistance by 10 percent over the previous model.
New, electronically controlled upper and lower grille shutters account for the greater aero performance. They close in certain conditions on the highway, when engine cooling needs are reduced, pushing more air around the vehicle to reduce drag.
Additional details include:
The 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 cleverly incorporated “air trips,” as the designers call them, for optimal air separation at the edges of the taillamps and corners at the D-pillars.
New tire deflectors help achieve the same aerodynamic advantage as a traditional air dam, but without compromising the Equinox’s sculpted design.
Underbody panels on FWD models improve airflow beneath the vehicle.
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