By Gary M. Kaye, Chief Content Officer, Tech50+ (www.tech50plus.com)
If you’re old enough to remember the 1953 Chevrolet and the iconic Dinah Shore jingle that promoted it, “See The USA In Your Chevrolet” then this story’s for you (Click the image to see the commercial).
Fourteen years after that commercial, I got my first car, a used 1964 Chevrolet Impala. That was followed by two Chevy Camaro’s, the first of which was bright orange with a white vinyl top and a white racing stripe. But that’s another story. It’s been some years since there has been a Chevy in my driveway, but when the folks from Chevrolet called me to tell me about all the features in new Chevy’s that could benefit our generation, I took them up on the offer. And they obliged with a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox with a ton of bells and whistles. Frankly, other than four tires and a steering wheel, there are not a lot of similarities between old and new. A week later when they came to pick it up, I was still learning my way around. Long gone are the days when you could simply get in your car, put the key in the ignition and drive off, knowing all you needed to figure out where the windshield wipers, the headlights, the radio, and the heater are. Now there’s not even a place to put a key.
Here are some of the features in the 2018 Equinox we tried out:
- 360 Surround Vision Camera
o Surround Vision, a technology that provides a literal look at the 2018 Equinox’s perimeter. This available system uses strategically located cameras on all sides of the vehicle to provide a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the vehicle, helping drivers quickly view the surrounding area at a glance for more confident maneuvering when reversing, parking or trailering.
- 4G LTE Wi-Fi
o This feature allows you to stay connected on the road, Skype or video chat, stay on top of work if needed, and stream movies and music, etc. from the road. Can connect 7 devices at once – that means your family will be entertained and can download movies, TV shows or books to your device on the road without using any data.
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto – sync up your phone to the car
o Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features you’d want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display – so you can make calls, send/receive messages and listen to your favorite playlists right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri.
o Android Auto is built around Google Maps giving you the ability to talk to Google and use several different apps straight from your cars display screen.
- Active Safety Alert Seat
o Warns drivers when they are at a crash risk (drifting out of their lane, forward collision possibility, etc.) by providing audible chimes and vibrations on the seat – the vibration can be helpful for older drivers who may be hard of hearing. The lead engineer began developing the idea for this feature by stuffing 64 pagers into a car seat cushion
o Blind spot alert. This feature flashes a warning on your outside rear view mirrors if there is a car in your blind spot. From my perspective, this is probably one of the most valuable features in the Chevy safety suite.
o The other feature I really found useful is the cross traffic alert, which lets you know if there’s something approaching that is crossing behind you. Great for backing out of parking spaces in malls or supermarkets, or even backing out of your driveway.
- myChevrolet Mobile App
o The myChevrolet app turns your mobile device into a command center for your vehicle. This app allows you to start/stop your engine and lock/unlock your doors from your smart phone. You can even send destinations to your available navigation system, view diagnostic information, customize Wi-Fi settings and set parking reminders from virtually anywhere.
- Rear Seat Reminder
o Rear Seat Reminder provides an alert when the rear doors are used during or just before a trip, prompting you to double-check for valuables left in the back seat when you exit the vehicle.
- Sliding Rear Seats
o The Multi-Flex sliding rear seat slides back to give you 39.9 inches of rear leg room. The seat also folds down to create extra cargo space, and because the seats feature a 60/40 split-folding design, loading and unloading cargo is that much easier.
o The Equinox we tried came with a lovely navigation system. But I had two problems with it. First is that it does not allow voice interaction. In others words, you cannot ask it to set a destination. Everything must be programmed manually. The second issue is that when the car is in motion, you cannot change destinations. This is so the driver will not be distracted, but I found it somewhat restrictive, and an issue that would be taken care of with voice recognition.
It has self-dimming headlights, another useful feature. If you approaching oncoming traffic your headlights automatically dim, then go back high beam when the traffic has passed. They also dim when you are approaching another car from behind.
Cargo space was quite ample. We were able to load in four adults, a huge cooler, four folding chairs, blankets, and more with plenty of room to spare for an all-day outing to a concert. The car performed quite well, behaving satisfactorily on both highways and narrow back country roads. It was slightly under powered for my taste, but still up to executing good acceleration getting onto the highways.
The only other feature I wanted to see was adaptive cruise control. While this is available on a number of GM cars, it wasn’t available here. Adaptive cruise control will adjust your car’s speed if the traffic in front of you slows down or halts. I would also have enjoyed a tiptronic transmission, but hey realistically this is a relatively modestly priced car. It starts at $23,580. And with most of the bells and whistles will come closer to $34,000.