2020 Chevrolet Equinox Review
  • Car Review

2020 Chevrolet Equinox Review

By Chris Teague | August 20, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Engaging drive dynamics and handling.
  • Generous space inside.
  • Reasonably fuel-efficient.

Cons:

  • Can be pricey.
  • Awkward infotainment screen orientation.
  • Sluggish base engine.

Vehicle Type:
The Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover, though for model years 2017 and earlier, it was considered a mid-size crossover.

Price Range:
$24,995 to $32,595, including destination but before options.

Powertrain: The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The optional engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel-drive is standard, and all-wheel-drive is optional.

More Photos: See more 2020 Chevrolet Equinox photos here.


Overview:

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The Chevy Equinox has decreased in size over the years, but that hasn’t stopped the Bowtie brand from adding new features and technologies to the crossover. The 2020 model year brings updates that include new standard safety technologies, a new Midnight Edition package for LT models, and the discontinuation of the diesel engine.

The Equinox competes in an increasingly crowded segment that includes the GMC Terrain, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass and Cherokee, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Sportage, Nissan Rogue, and Mazda CX-5, among others.

Its size and pricing mean that the Equinox has a lot of competition, both from larger crossovers and more upscale small crossovers.

The Equinox is targeted at buyers that want a comfortable, American-made vehicle with room for the family and gear.

Two powertrains are available for the 2020 Equinox. The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The uprated engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

The Equinox is available in four trims for 2020: L, LS, LT, and Premier.

All-wheel drive is available while front-wheel-drive is standard.

The 2020 update brought standard safety equipment that includes six airbags, a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, following distance indicators, forward collision warnings, front pedestrian braking, and lane-keep assist with lane departure warnings. That leaves few features to add in options packages.

Available features include lane change alerts with side blind zone monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear park assist, an HD surround-view camera, and adaptive cruise control.

Chevrolet offers several options and upgrade packages to almost every trim level of the Equinox. Features such as navigation, a larger infotainment screen, a panoramic sunroof, and various safety features can be added in packages or as standalone options in many cases.

That can bring plenty of high-end features to most trims of the Equinox. The range-topping Premier trim adds creature comforts such as leather upholstery, but Chevy has still opted to hold back features like navigation and a panoramic sunroof in options packages that can drive the price up close to $40,000.

Overall Score: 7.2/10


Safety Features: 8/10

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Chevrolet Equinox with a Top Safety Pick designation for the 2020 model year. That second-highest honor is due in part to the crossover’s ‘Good’ scores in all crashworthiness categories and a ‘Superior’ rating for front vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated the Equinox five out of five stars overall, which includes five-star ratings in all categories except for rollover resistance, where it earned four stars.

Standard safety features include a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, following distance indicators, forward collision alerts, front pedestrian braking, and lane-keep assist with lane departure warnings.

Optional safety equipment includes lane change alerts with blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear parking assist, an HD surround-view camera, and adaptive cruise control.


Value: 6/10

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Equinox starts under $24,000, but good luck finding the base L trim. It’s a special-order option, so there won’t be any sitting on dealers’ lots waiting for a buyer. After that, the Chevy’s price climbs quickly with options and trim level additions.

The Equinox has a sluggish base engine and interior materials that don’t feel up to its sometimes-premium price tag.

The Equinox L comes standard with a host of driver-assist features and a reasonable set of standard tech features, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s about access here, and the L trim is hard to find. Stepping up one level adds at least $4,000 to the price tag, which may not be an attractive option for many buyers.

All-in, the Equinox’s price tag scrapes $40,000 with options, which is closing in on premium territory.

Middle trims, such as the LT, add plenty of features without pushing the price tag too far north.


Tech Features: 7/10

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Standard features such as a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice commands, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Chevy Safety Assist, USB charging ports, a six-speaker audio system, a 4.2-inch driver information screen, two 12-volt power outlets, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, OnStar, SiriusXM radio, and active noise cancellation.

Available features include a 120-volt power outlet, a Bose premium seven-speaker audio system, an eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, app capability, HD radio, a rear-seat entertainment system with DVD player, USB data ports, and a universal home remote system.

Some features, such as the Bose audio system, are still added-cost options that drive up the cost of even the top trim levels.


Practicality: 7/10

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The Equinox lags behind some of its competition in cargo space, with 29.9 cubic feet of space behind the second row. It’s still good enough to handle everyday driving duties for most people, especially grocery runs and kid-hauling.

There are plenty of storage spaces for small items, and the underfloor storage increases cargo options in the back. There are small trays for mobile phones that have rubber to help keep items from sliding around.

A low step-in height and load floor make the Equinox ideal for people that don’t want to lift items into tall SUVs and trucks. The Equinox’s ride height also works well for folks that need help entering and exiting the vehicle.

Selecting the optional panoramic sunroof reduces the headroom noticeably, but otherwise, the Equinox’s cabin is spacious and comfortable for four to five adults.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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Chevy last redesigned the Equinox from the ground up in 2017, but the crossover has remained current thanks to sharp styling that is well proportioned and handsome.

The Equinox’s cabin is attractive, but Chevy placed a heavier emphasis on durable materials than it did on making the cabin feel upscale. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s at odds with the Equinox’s sometimes premium price tag.

The touchscreen and all controls are within easy reach for drivers of all sizes, and though it’s not a driver-oriented cockpit, the design is comfortable and ergonomic.

The Equinox has a low ride height that makes it easy to enter and exit, and easy to load cargo in and out. The only downside with this is that doors and bumpers can scrape on high curbs in urban areas.

Higher trim levels feature two-tone leather and metal accents that add a high-end feel to the Equinox, but there are enough hard-touch and cheap-feeling materials to offset any gains that a nice leather interior can offer.


Driving Experience: 7/10

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The base engine is about as base as it can get. It’s sluggish and underpowered and takes quite a bit of effort to move the Equinox with any urgency. The standard six-speed automatic transmission is well matched to the engine, however, and finds its gears without hassle.

The optional 2.0-liter engine is a much better match for a vehicle of the Equinox’s size and weight, and it adds a welcome power boost. Scooting around town is a breeze, and the engine can push the Equinox to highway speeds and beyond without issue.

The Equinox’s ride can be rough at times, a problem that is made noticeably worse with the optional larger wheels. That said, the crossover’s handling is confident and surprisingly stable when the roads get curvy, and braking performance is exceptional for a family vehicle.


Fuel Efficiency: 7/10

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When equipped with the base 1.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive, the Equinox has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 26/31/28 mpg city/hwy/combined. With AWD, those numbers shift to 25/30/27 mpg.

The 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers fuel economy of 22/29/25 mpg with FWD and 22/28/24 mpg with AWD.

Those fuel economy numbers are competitive in the Equinox’s segment, but it’s important to note that premium fuel is recommended for the larger turbo engine.

Competitors like the Honda CR-V are both more efficient and quicker than the Equinox. The CR-V is also cheaper in most configurations and can offer great fuel economy from a hybrid powertrain, which the Equinox does not offer. Other competitors like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 are also available with a frugal hybrid powertrain that put them well ahead of the Equinox in terms of gas mileage.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base 2020 Chevrolet Equinox L starts at $24,995 after destination and comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, Chevy Safety Assist, forward collision alerts, lane departure warnings, lane-keep-assist, front pedestrian braking, a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, 17-inch aluminum wheels, active aero shutters, automatic headlights, heated power outside mirrors, a manual tailgate, 12-volt power outlets, a four-way manual driver and passenger seat, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, a six-speaker audio system, active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, USB charging ports, a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, cruise control, 60/40 folding rear seats, and keyless open and start.

All-wheel drive is not available for the L trim level.

The Equinox LS starts at $27,495 and comes standard with a mechanical jack and tools, a 16-inch spare tire and wheel, and rear carpeted floor mats. Choosing the LS trim over the L trim also opens up a long list of available features and options.

AWD is a $1,600 option.

The Chevy Equinox LT starts at $28,695 and comes with a 1.5-liter turbo engine, tinted rear glass, HID headlights, a 4.2-inch multicolor driver information display, overhead sunglass storage, power driver seat lumbar control, and SiriusXM radio.

The 2.0-liter engine is a $2,500 option, and all-wheel drive is a $1,600 option.

The Chevrolet Equinox Premier starts at $32,595 and comes with an HD rearview camera, lane change alerts with blind spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear park assist, a hands-free gesture liftgate, leather seats, 18-inch wheels, fog lights, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, LED headlights and taillights, an eight-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, in-vehicle app capability, cloud-connected storage, dual-zone automatic climate controls, front USB data ports, auxiliary inputs, an SD card reader, heated front seats, memory seats, and wireless smartphone charging.

The 2.0-liter engine is a $2,700 option and all-wheel drive is $1,600 extra.

If it were our money on the line with an Equinox, we’d opt for the mid-range LT trim. Chevy offers a plethora of options and upgrades, many of which can be added individually. Adding an upgraded stereo and infotainment system, all-wheel drive, and a safety package doesn’t drive the price up too far and results in a well-equipped crossover with plenty of comfort and convenience features.

Though it is top-of-the-line, the Premier trim’s price tag reaches too far into premium territory for many buyers. There’s also an awkward mix of low-rent materials in the Premier trim that are at odds with its premium price tag.


More Photos

See more 2020 Chevrolet Equinox photos here.