A leaner, stronger body is not merely about structural integrity, it contributes to overall safety in a variety of ways
A lighter SUV is always more agile. For the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, shedding about 180 kg – the weight of an upright piano – pays dividends in a nimbler, more responsive and more refined driving experience. At the core of this weight-saving exercise is the Equinox’s all-new, lighter body structure, which was designed and optimized for top safety ratings.
For the “light weighting” process, Chevrolet Equinox engineers focused on three key areas:
- Intelligent design: This was achieved through multidisciplinary optimization and computer-aided engineering (CAE).
- Use of lighter materials: The engineers strategically employed advanced materials, like ultra-high strength steel and aluminum.
- Innovative manufacturing techniques: Implementing a mix of clever manufacturing and joining techniques, including metal inert gas welding, laser brazing or structural adhesives was part of the process.
This meticulous design process, which enabled the engineers to eliminate close to 10 percent of the Equinox’s mass to improve safety also resulted in a more dynamic, responsive and fuel efficient vehicle.
- Safety — the strategic placement of high-strength and ultra-high strength steel in the body structure is the foundation of a robust “safety cage” surrounding passengers. It is complemented by the Equinox’s restraint systems and other standard and available safety features to manage energy in the event of a crash and help protect occupants.
- Safer handling and comfortable ride — the more stable an SUV is on the move, the safer it is. With their inherently high center of gravity, SUVs are generally more prone to body roll in sudden directional changes – not the Chevrolet Equinox.
The stronger body structure greatly reduces the need to account for chassis flex in the suspension system’s tuning. This allowed engineers to focus more on ride comfort and fine-tune ride and handling attributes with greater precision. It also supported hard-mounting the front and rear suspension cradles at six points apiece on the body, further enhancing nimbleness and responsiveness and making it relatively safer in high-speed avoidance maneuvers.
The lighter weight also means the Equinox can make the most of its 1.5L and 2.0L turbocharged engines and deliver brisk acceleration. This makes it safer while merging with fast-moving traffic on a highway.
“The Equinox uses several types of premium high-strength steels that offer both protection and rigidity. The weight reduction comes mostly from the use of thinner-gauge high-strength steels combined with optimization of the geometry (or topology) of the structure, which brings fuel economy benefits and makes the vehicle more nimble,” said Albert Chou, GM Body Vehicle System Engineer.
Apart from the enhanced safety there are other happy byproducts of this weight-shedding regimen:
- Exceptional quietness and refinement — Just because the body is lighter and stiffer doesn’t mean the Equinox compromises on refinement. A stiff body structure is better at preventing noise and vibrations, for a quieter and smoother ride. By helping to block noise and vibration paths, fewer sound-absorbing and other dissipative materials were required, contributing to the Equinox’s overall weight loss.
- Fuel economy — Lower weight improves fuel economy. The Equinox delivers combined fuel economy of 15 km/l for the standard 1.5L turbocharged engine with front-wheel drive in the LS and LT versions and 13.6 km/l for the 2.0L turbocharged engine in the full-spec Premier model.
“The lighter and stronger body is not only designed to deliver exceptional occupant protection, it also aids efficient performance in terms of reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. This weight optimization delivers a greener drive experience and uncompromised safety, with a lower cost of ownership,” added Ahmed Soudodi, Head of Brand of Chevrolet Middle East.
The 2018 Equinox is on sale now in Chevrolet showrooms across the Middle East.