Automotive

The 39 MPG Chevrolet Equinox Diesel Was in Fact a Hard Sell and Is Now Dead


Image: Chevy
Image: Chevy

The 39 MPG 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel Seems Like A Hard Sell,I wrote after Chevy’s mid-size crossover’s fuel economy numbers dropped in August of 2017. The vehicle would flop, I suspected, and now, about two years later, GM is giving up selling the thing due to “low demand.” You don’t say?

“We no longer offer the diesel option on the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox due to low demand,” GM’s representative told me via email today. Speaking about the Equinox’s sibling, a GMC rep told Autoblog that “A huge majority of our Terrain customers have opted for one of our two gas engines.”

None of this is remotely surprising. When I first read that a Chevy Equinox—a vehicle most likely purchased by conservative family-people and older folks—was going to get a diesel motor, I immediately thought it was a silly idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love diesels for their torque and efficiency, and the 1.6-liter in the Equinox is rated at 39 MPG highway and makes up to 240 lb-ft of twist, 219 of which are available at 1,500 RPM. Those are decent numbers.

But, I opined, the overlap between conservative crossover shoppers and people willing to own diesels probably isn’t particularly large, especially considering the hassle associated with needing to refill Diesel Exhaust Fluid; the difficulty of finding gas stations that sell diesel; the price premium of the engine, which would take many years to pay off when compared to the available gas motor, which offers 33 horsepower more and just 37 lb-ft fewer; and the image issue—people still see diesels as dirty and unrefined.

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For these reasons, I was baffled that GM even bothered with the development costs associated with chucking a diesel into the crossover. Perhaps they did it solely for CO2 compliance reasons?


Illustration for article titled The 39 MPG Chevrolet Equinox Diesel Was in Fact a Hard Sell and Is Now Dead

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GM didn’t seem to expect the car to sell that hot. As Chevrolet representative Tara Kuhnen admitted at the time, the Equinox diesel was more of a learning exercise than an attempt to break sales records, saying: “In terms of volume, I don’t think we expect this to take the place of our traditional gas engine.”

She also said something that made me think that maybe GM wasn’t trying to get these conservative crossover buyers into diesel vehicles, but rather diesel buyers (who might be coming from the embattled VW TDIs) into crossovers. From my story:

She said “We know that diesel customers tend to be a fan of Diesel.” It seems like a simple quote, but it suggests that perhaps Chevrolet isn’t just looking for crossover shoppers to buy a diesel, but especially for diesel shoppers to buy an Equinox.

The latter seems a lot more plausible. Whether there are enough diesel-lovers out there (especially with VW no longer in the game) interested in buying a crossover is another question.

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In any case, this experiment, unsurprisingly, didn’t work, and now GM’s diesel crossovers are gone.

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