The Equinox is General Motors’ bestselling crossover in North America.
To say that consumers love their crossovers would be a massive understatement. Every major manufacturer now has several in their lineup of varying sizes and these are each brand’s bestsellers. Chevrolet is slowly moving away from the car business and focusing on crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks as their bread and butter products. Currently, between the subcompact Trax (soon to be replaced by the Trailblazer) and the full-sized Suburban, Chevrolet has no less than seven of these offerings in their lineup.
The Equinox is General Motors’ bestselling crossover in North America, so it’s of great importance to make sure that it’s not left behind by fast-paced competition in terms of technology and style. This is the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T, with some subtle changes over the previous model year. For those curious, Chevrolet will be bringing some substantial exterior revisions for 2021 to ensure it’s as fresh as possible, but more on that later.
In this segment, automakers are competing with both naturally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants. In some cases, hybrid technology is available, and General Motors happened to be one of just two players with a small-displacement diesel engine. This has been dropped for 2020, giving buyers the choice between the efficient and smooth 1.5-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder, or the 2.0-liter turbocharged four tested here. The entry-level 1.5 brings 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft., adequate for the class, though moving up to the 2.0 brings 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque on tap.
The only rivals that can play ball with the Equinox 2.0T are the Mazda CX-5 (reviewed here), Ford Escape, and Kia Sportage. Power in the Equinox comes on smoothly with the nine-speed automatic transmission, and is fairly linear. Acceleration is effortless and while this transmission isn’t quite as sharp as the ZF eight-speed, we would much rather have this nine-speed than any application of a CVT. Power is plentiful at the top of the rev range, and the Equinox is a true pleasure to burn highway mileage with.
Ride quality is exemplary for the class, surpassing the jittery Hyundai Tucson and even the Equinox’s sibling, the GMC Terrain. The Equinox soaks up bumps on uneven pavement effortlessly, keeping occupants as comfortable as can be. The steering is unfortunately a bit on the lifeless side, and requires too much correction. No adjustable drive modes are available, though the Equinox is a competent handler as long as you overlook the lack of feel.
Fuel efficiency is a bit worse than expected, with ratings of 10.9L/100km city, 8.3L/100km highway, and a combined 9.7L/100km. During our early spring test in optimal conditions, we observed 11.1L/100km on 91-octane premium gas, which is required. In comparison, the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape (reviewed here) can both pull off better efficiency, and the Ford doesn’t require premium fuel. Those really prioritizing efficiency will want to take a look at the smaller 1.5-liter engine, which will be more than adequate for the vast majority of buyers.
The exterior design of the Equinox, now a few years into its model cycle, is on the conservative side and blends into its surroundings with ease. While some rivals are trying to attract new buyers with aggressive styling cues and massive wheels, Chevrolet has opted to stick with a traditional formula that buyers tend to appreciate. Our LT tester was optioned with the “Midnight Edition” package that includes black leather, 19-inch black wheels, dark fog light bezels, and a few other blacked-out additions. This adds subtle tweaks to the exterior, but nothing that really gets the heart pumping. Buyers have the choice of opting for a slightly more aggressive Redline package that cranks things up yet another notch.
Inside is a continuation of more conservativism, with a sea of black plastics and some silver bits. The quality of the materials is quite high, with fit and finish being at the upper end of the segment. The heated leather seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of space for front and rear passengers. Cargo space in the rear comes in at 847-liters with the rear seats in place, and this grows to a whopping 1,809-liters when they’re folded down. Unlike the Nissan Rogue and Volkswagen Tiguan (reviewed here), the Equinox does not offer a third row.
The LT tested here gets the smaller infotainment screen, at a tiny seven inches. This wouldn’t normally be a problem if the bezel that surrounds the screen wasn’t built for the larger eight-inch screen, making the equipped base system look like little more than an afterthought. The bigger oversight here is that in order to get a heated steering wheel, buyers need to move up to the top-trim Premier with the option box checked off for the Confidence and Convenience II package. In a world where sub-$20,000 compacts get heated steering wheels and LED headlights as standard equipment, this is a serious miss on Chevrolet’s part.
Screen size aside, an area where the Equinox stands out is in the technology department. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard equipment, and buyers can also add a 4G-LTE hotspot as well as OnStar safety services. The Chevrolet touchscreen infotainment system is a cinch to use, and with three USB ports, all devices can connect and remain charged easily. Other tech on board our test vehicle includes remote start, automatic emergency braking, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure warning and more. The equipped Confidence and Convenience Package also adds rear cross traffic alert and park assist.
Pricing starts at $27,098 for the base model with front-wheel-drive. The LT model tested here is a volume seller, and starts at $34,898 with the 2.0-liter engine. Also equipped is the Midnight Edition Package ($1,995), Confidence and Convenience Package ($2,195), and Metallic Paint ($495), bringing the as-tested total to $39,583 before extra fees and taxes. The 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT is far from perfect, and has a ton of stiff competition to go up against. However, buyers looking for comfortable long-range family hauler that can pack in a large amount of cargo will be perfectly happy here.