Class: Compact Crossover SUV
Miles driven: 210
Fuel used: 9.9 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 21.2 mpg
Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/28/24 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas recommended
Base price: $35,700 (not including $1195 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Confidence and Convenience II Package ($1650)
Price as tested: $38,545
The great: Good passenger room with easy entry and exit; pleasant road manners
The good: Turbo engine delivers satisfying acceleration; easy-to-use infotainment system
The not so good: Engine gets a bit noisy when accelerating; cargo area isn’t as large as many class competitors’
After Chevrolet made less of the Equinox crossover for 2018, it’s been making more of it since.
When Chevy sliced about four inches and around 400 pounds from the Equinox in the process of redesigning the vehicle for 2018, that knocked it squarely into the compact class from the low end of the midsize field that it previously occupied. Dimensions and appearances have held fast, but it has gained features—some standard, some optional—in subsequent years. The key addition for 2020 is standardization of the Driver Confidence Package, a suite of safety technologies with automatic emergency braking, forward-collision alert, pedestrian detection and braking, lane-keep assist, following-distance indicator, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Consumer Guide sampled the top of the ’20 Equinox line when it tested a Premier with all-wheel drive and the available turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Its base price of $36,895 with delivery also includes 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, heated auto-dimming power-adjustable exterior mirrors, roof rails, power hands-free liftgate, leather upholstery and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, 8-way power-adjusted driver’s seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Among Premier’s base connectivity items are the Infotainment 3 system with an 8-inch color touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone interface, and 6-speaker audio with satellite radio; OnStar driver-assistance service; and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Additional tech features are keyless opening and starting, remote starting, wireless device charging, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, rear parking assist, and GM’s Teen Driver monitoring system.
There was just one option on the test vehicle, but it was the $1650 Confidence & Convenience II Package that raised the final price to $38,545. It adds ventilated front and heated rear seats, a power-adjustable front-passenger seat, “safety alert” driver’s seat (it puts a thrrrrump through your rump to warn of looming hazards), heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and high-definition surround vision.
In addition to fine passenger room for its size class—with good small-item storage as a bonus—CG also likes the Equinox’s versatile cargo space (29.9 cubic feet behind the second-row seat; 63.9 cubic feet with the rear seats down), although those measurements aren’t as generous as class rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, or Toyota RAV4. Objects load at bumper height through a wide opening, and the test truck had quite a bit of cargo room under the floor. Depressions at the far rear corners will hold small incidentals. Second-row seats are split 60/40 and fold absolutely flat, either via seat-cushion flippers or remote levers in the right sidewall of the cargo bay.
By dint of its perforated-leather seat surfaces, ambient interior lighting, and other standard amenities, the Premier presents a clear advance over even the LT that’s the next model down the line. The tester’s Jet Black-and-Brandy interior décor warded off cabin gloom, with the lighter color on seat faces, significant padded portions of the door panels, and the considerable expanse of soft-touch dash surface. The seats are comfortable and provide good support. Controls for the audio and climate systems are simple and direct to use—with handy dials to set temperatures—and a colorful mix of dials and displays inform the driver.
The front row has good head- and legroom. Rear passengers won’t feel cramped even if taller front-seaters have to stretch out somewhat. Three adults can fit across the rear seat, in part because the floor is almost flat in the center and there’s still enough headroom over the middle position. Entry and exit are easy, and step-in clearance is no obstacle. Driver vision to the front and sides is fairly unencumbered, but rearward visibility suffers some due to the rear roof-pillar shape. If the generous glove box can be faulted, it’s for being set low in the dash. Additional personal-storage space resides in a deep console box with a long small-item tray and 120-volt power socket, and two open cup holders in the console. Rear-row passengers have a pouch on the back of each front seat and twin cup holders in the pull-down armrest. All doors have smallish door pockets with bottle holders.
The 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine that had been available in 2018-19 is eliminated for 2020. Otherwise, the two gasoline powerteams remain unchanged: a 170-horsepower 1.5-liter with a 6-speed automatic transmission and, for $2700 more, the 252-horse 2.0-liter with a 9-speed automatic.
The larger engine that was in CG’s test vehicle is a lively performer, if a mite noisy under load. There’s decent torque—260 lb-ft—and a fairly aggressive 3.87:1 final drive to help get things moving. An Equinox with this engine is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds. The EPA estimates that an AWD 2.0-liter model should get 22 mpg in city use, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 combined, but this driver recorded just 21.8 mpg after a 114.8-mile drive with 55 percent city-style operation.
In addition to the price premium for the 2.0-liter engine, opting for all-wheel drive over front-wheel drive tacks on another $1600. (All trim levels but the base L can be had with it.) AWD operation is not automatic; it is switched on or off by a button on the console. Steering is light and short of road feel, but the Equinox still handles fairly well and rides decently upon its front-strut/rear-multilink suspension. Braking is good.
At its starting price, the Equinox Premier that CG tested bumps up against top-trim versions of formidable, fairly refined competitors like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue—and the all-wheel Rogue SL costs $2900 less. But they lack the power of the 2.0-liter Equinox, and the CR-V and Rogue use continuously variable transmissions that aren’t as much fun to live with as the Chevy’s stepped-gear trans. The “less is more” Equinox should be just right for a lot of compact-crossover shoppers.
2020 Chevrolet Equinox Premier