2020 Chevrolet Equinox

By May 1, 2020

Promising both practicality and value, the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox provides plenty of interior space for growing families. While the Equinox doesn’t top its class in any category, it offers a nice blend of style, comfort, and safety. It’s reasons like these that crossovers and SUVs have replaced sedans and minivans as the prominent family vehicle.

The Equinox is a true competitor in the compact crossover class thanks to its all-around nature. Its larger Chevy siblings, the Blazer and Traverse, beat it in comfort and space, but the Equinox is still worth a look.

For the 2020 model year, the Equinox adds some notable active safety features as standard equipment, including automatic emergency braking. Meanwhile, a Midnight Edition with blacked-out trim and big wheels is available on the LT trim.

Diesel power is no longer available for the Equinox, but buyers may choose from two turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engines. The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbo-4 that’s rated at 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque and is mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

An optional 2.0-liter turbo-4 whips up 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, working with a 9-speed automatic. This engine is only available on the LT and Premier trim levels.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available on all but the base model.

Fuel economy ranks around average for the compact crossover class. With the base 1.5-liter turbo-4, the Equinox is EPA-rated at 26 mpg city, 31 highway, and 28 combined. All-wheel drive drops this to 25/30/27 mpg. The larger engine, which requires premium fuel, sinks gas mileage to 22/29/25 mpg with FWD or 22/28/24 mpg with AWD.

Chevrolet has finally taken a step to make active safety technology standard on every Equinox. The list of standard features now includes automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert, and rear parking sensors are optional on the LT and standard on the Premier. Adaptive cruise control is only available on the Premier, but even there it’s optional.

Safety scores from both testing crash-testing agencies are impressive. The NHTSA gave the Equinox a five-star overall safety rating, while it was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick. However, that designation only applies to models with specific headlights

Model Lineup

The Equinox is available in four trim levels: L, LS, LT, and Premier.

The base L model starts at $24,995. In addition to newly safety technology, the L includes cloth upholstery, keyless entry and start, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The infotainment system includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wi-fi hot spot capability, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker audio system.

The $27,495 LS trim adds a compact spare tire, carpeted floor mats, and additional trim details. This is the first trim where option packages and all-wheel drive become available.

The LT is priced from $28,695 and includes an eight-way power driver’s seat, satellite radio, a 4.2-inch driver information display, deep-tinted rear glass, and HID headlights. The Midnight Edition is available, as are the fully array of active safety features.

The $32,595 Premier comes with perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, navigation, wireless charging, dual-zone automatic climate control, a hands-free liftgate, LED headlights and taillights, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, active lane control, and rear parking sensors.

Exterior

More than some newer crossovers, the Chevy Equinox is like an old shoe: familiar or even innocuous, mostly devoid of visual stimulation. Inside and out, it’s simply a straightforward crossover, ready to undertake its tasks while leaving no particular impressions along the way.

A wide, horizontally-split grille contains the big and bold Chevrolet “bowtie” badge, showing a familiar face. All told, the Equinox isn’t much different in appearance from many current crossovers.

At least Chevy offers a couple of bright body colors to add a touch of visual intrigue to an otherwise average vehicle. Upper trims tack on enough brightwork to warrant a bit more attention.

Interior

Like the Equinox body, its cabin is similarly lacking in distinctive elements. Though comfortable, the symmetrical design clearly emphasizes function over form.

Material quality is good, especially on the Premier trim, but lesser versions aren’t as compelling. Still, each upholstery format, from lower-budget to near-luxury, seems worth its comparative cost. Several interior choices provide at least some visual contrast, including tan upholstery and silver and chrome plastic accents.

Cabin space is about average for the compact crossover segment, for both passengers and cargo. In L and LS trim levels, the driver’s seat lacks height adjustment. Otherwise, an Equinox ranks as comfortable in front and adequate in the back seat. The rear bench can hold either a pair of adults or a trio of youngsters. Sadly, the sliding second-row seat in previous Equinox models is extinct.

Each Equinox gets a center-mounted touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Screens are clear and bright. A larger version is standard on the Premier and available on the LT.

Cargo volume is a strong point, at 29.9 cubic feet behind the rear bench. With it folded flat, cargo space expands to 63.9 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

Chevrolet has abandoned diesel power, but the two capable turbo-4 engines that remain provide solid performance. A compliant suspension ensures a comfortable ride.

Like nearly every compact crossover SUV, the Equinox emphasizes passenger comfort over roadgoing exhilaration. Even the more powerful 2.0-liter engine is short on stimulating responses, but few crossover buyers are likely to feel deprived.

The base turbo-4 is adequate, while the bigger engine delivers more than enough energy. On the other hand, Chevy’s 9-speed automatic transmission tends to get confused, hesitating before selecting the next gear.

Equinox occupants can look forward to a smooth ride and competent handling. Models with the standard smaller wheels ride better than those equipped with optional 19-inch tires. Steering feels light but accurate.

Off-road trekking isn’t recommended, but the Equinox’s all-wheel-drive system copes well enough with inclement weather and on slick pavement.

Final Word

The addition of more standard safety equipment has made the 2020 Chevy Equinox a better value. The base L version is still fairly spartan, but it’s better equipped than before. Even though the Equinox fails to stand apart from the compact crossover pack in comfort or quality, it delivers the goods on practicality. To get the greatest value, an Equinox LT equipped with all-wheel drive and the optional Comfort and Convenience package is worth considering.

—by James M. Flammang, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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