Getting a short test drive in the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox was a welcome order given its importance to the brand in the hotly contested compact crossover SUV market. Up against players like the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV-4, Ford Escape and the like, the Equinox fights for bread and butter.

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox comes to us on an all-new chassis that loses some 400 pounds over last year’s model by using a mixed material approach of high strength steels, aluminum and composite plastics in its overall structure and body work.

Its styling is fresh though much akin to the look we seen in the new Chevrolet Volt, the Malibu and the Cruze sedans. Its face is decidedly Chevrolet, its body lines familiar enough to say Equinox but fresh enough to be something new.

Our Equinox 2LT tester featured handsome HID headlamps, LED daytime running lights and tasteful use of chrome at the face. While LED taillights are available on top trim grades, here we have traditional halogen bulb units. Standard on this trim also were 18-inch alloy wheels.

As our Equinox had the Confidence and Convenience Package it featured the power opening lift gate, remote vehicle start and driver alerts for blind spot, rear cross traffic and parking. Inside this also gave us heated seats, climate control and leather wrapped steering wheel among other things.

The cabin is also all-new with higher quality materials throughout, and a tasteful design with good ergonomics I thought. I particularly liked the denim-style cloth seating. It was handsome, sturdy and kinda sexy to the touch if I’m honest.

Getting to the driving though, what I found most impressive here is the new 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and its all-new 9-speed automatic transmission. The top engine option for power, it has 252 horses and 260 pound-feet of torque.

It delivers power with little or no turbo lag and has a pleasant sound throughout its rev range. Active noise cancellation does have some effect on what you hear but the powertrain makes good noises overall.

Power delivery through GM’s own 9-speed automatic transmission was also quite impressive. The transmission behaves very well in its shifting and its feel, much better than the ZF designed 9-speed automatics in other brands. This is a good egg.

The gear ratio spread from all of its nine gears allows for power instantly when you ask for it and good fuel economy the rest of the time. Here the EPA says 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. That is exactly what I achieved in my testing.

If you want more, the base gasoline engine is a 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder which nets better efficiency over power. You can also option a 2.0 liter turbodiesel engine for max mileage, a powertrain we cannot wait to test.

Lastly, its handling is much improved over the last generation Equinox. Its strut front and multi-link rear suspension along with its tighter and lighter structure do wonders for sharpening up its feel and response. It remains however quiet and solid in ways some its competition do not.

Our 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 2LT rang in at $32,380 with options as tested which we find a good value given its good solid base line quality, engineering and character. Going up from here with trim and equipment can only be better.