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- Highs Athletic chassis, decent fuel economy, capacious interior.
- Lows Sluggish engine, awkwardly tilted infotainment screen, high-priced upper trims.
- Verdict Most buyers will find the Equinox a satisfactory choice, but others in the segment offer more value and a higher level of refinement.
With a roomy cabin, decent fuel economy, and a spry driving demeanor, the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox is a handsome crossover suited for family-hauling duty, but that can be said of the 'Nox's rivals as well. A turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder is standard, as is front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is available on all but the base model as an optional extra. The cabin's swoopy styling is well matched to the exterior's, but while Chevy provides plenty of infotainment niceties as standard, the most affordable Equinox models are somewhat short on creature comforts. Driving enthusiasts may prefer to look at the Honda CR-V, the Volkswagen Tiguan, or the Mazda CX-5.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2021?
The 2021 Equinox carries over from 2020 with no significant changes. A facelifted version of Chevy's compact SUV will debut for the 2022 model year following a one-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic that shuttered automotive manufacturing and hampered production of the refreshed model. The optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has been dropped from the lineup.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd suggest the mid-range LT model, as it adds several worthwhile features over the more affordable LS. Among them are an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, SiriusXM satellite radio, tinted rear windows, body-colored exterior mirror housings, and extra chrome trim.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Underpowered and frequently out of breath, the base four-cylinder won't win any fans with its sluggish performance. This turbocharged 1.5-liter engine makes 170 horsepower, and when paired with the optional (and heavier) all-wheel-drive system (front-wheel drive is standard), it takes a heavy foot to hustle the Equinox up to highway speeds. The standard six-speed automatic shifts seamlessly, but in the interest of fuel economy, the gearbox is reluctant to downshift when extra power is needed. Agreeable and easy to drive, the Equinox handles competently, and its steering is accurate and direct. The ride is a bit harsh, particularly with the optional 19-inch wheels (17s or 18s come standard, depending on the trim), where rougher stretches of road transmit some unpleasantness into the cabin.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
In the race for the best fuel economy, smaller engines are all the rage. Chevy's turbo 1.5-liter isn't speedy, but it does offer attractive EPA fuel-economy ratings. That said, Honda's CR-V outpaces the Equinox in both acceleration and fuel efficiency. In the real world, EPA estimates aren't always so easy to achieve, and our all-wheel-drive Equinox proved thirstier than expected. It delivered just 28 of its rated 30 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test while the CR-V managed 32 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Made from durable materials and nicely styled, the Equinox's cabin should draw broad appeal. The spacious interior should carry both front- and rear-seat passengers in reasonable comfort. The cabin features plenty of cupholders, but most interior luxuries are reserved for higher trim levels; the base Equinox L is a price leader with very few features. Some rivals offer more space behind the rear seats, but we still managed to fit eight of our carry-on suitcases back there. Aside from a capacious center-console storage bin, the Equinox's cabin storage is merely average.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A 7.0-inch touchscreen (or optional 8.0-inch screen) displays Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment interface atop the Equinox's dash; the system continues to impress with its ease of use and quick responses. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, as are Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB connectivity, and an auxiliary input jack. Standard onboard Wi-Fi makes the Equinox one of the best-connected crossovers.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The Equinox nabbed a five-star honor from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but missed out on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick accolade due to headlights that scored only marginal in that agency's testing. For shoppers who place driver-assistance features at the top of their lists, know that the Equinox provides automated emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlamps, and lane-keeping assist as standard. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Chevrolet's basic warranty package is just that—basic—but so are those of its competitors. The Kia Sportage and its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Tucson, both offer longer protection plans. Chevy also provides one free dealer maintenance visit within the first year of ownership, which is a nice perk.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit