2021 Chevrolet Equinox

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Review: Due For A Makeover

by Gerhard Horn

There are currently around 28 compact crossovers and SUVs on sale in the USA and almost zero brand loyalty even for an all-American nameplate like the Chevy Equinox. If a manufacturer doesn't update its product regularly, savvy buyers move onto its more contemporary competitors. A significantly facelifted Equinox is coming to the US in the third quarter, but, for now, the old car still has to do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, it has to do so with one hand tied behind its back, as the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot has been dropped from the range. At least the Equinox still comes with a generous list of comfort and safety features.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Chevrolet Equinox?

An all-new, or rather heavily facelifted Equinox was planned for this year, but the COVID-19 virus threw a spanner in the works. The new Equinox will debut in the third quarter. The only update worth noting is the Leather Package, now available on the LT trim. Chevy also quietly dropped the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, leaving its compact crossover to compete only with an underpowered 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. The 252 horsepower model will return in the facelifted car, however.

Pros and Cons

  • The standard safety list is generous
  • Well-balanced road manners
  • The small engine is fuel-efficient
  • Easy to use infotainment
  • 1.5-liter turbo engine is underpowered
  • No more 2.0-liter turbo option
  • A facelifted model is coming

Best Deals on Equinox

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,800
LS
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,400
LT
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,600
Premier
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$31,500

Equinox Exterior

The Equinox's contemporary design has served it well for the last three years. It's neither offensive nor striking - the curvy lines do a great job of hiding the bulky dimensions. Chevrolet is taking a bolder approach with the facelift. As standard, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, increasing to 18 inches on the Premier. Up front, it has a double-tier grille with the signature Chevy bowtie, flanked by halogen headlights on base models. HID or LED headlights are available on high-spec models. The exterior can be further enhanced by opting for the Midnight Edition package, including black 19-inch alloy wheels, a black mesh grille with black surround, and several comfort and convenience features.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Front View Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Rear View Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Front Angle View Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Equinox Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Chevy's Equinox is slightly larger than most of the compact SUVs in the US. The overall length is 183.1 inches, with a 107.3-inch wheelbase. It has a width of 72.6 inches not counting the mirrors. The minimum ground clearance of 7.6 inches is quite useful for ingress and egress; this increases to eight inches on the all-wheel-drive Premier. The lightest model is the front-wheel-drive L with a curb weight of 3,274 pounds. The AWD Premier weighs 3,512 lbs.

  • Length 183.1 in
  • Wheelbase 107.3 in
  • Height 65.4 in
  • Max Width 72.6 in
  • Front Width 62.2 in
  • Rear Width 62.2 in
  • Curb Weight 3,274.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are eight colors available on the Equinox color palette. As usual with Chevy, the base L is only available in Silver Ice Metallic and Summit White. The LS trim unlocks three additional colors, including Nightfall Gray, Mosaic Black, and Midnight Blue. The high-spec LT and Premier trims have access to the full-color palette, adding one extra no-cost metallic color called Pacific Blue, as well as Cajun Red Tintcoat ($495) and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat ($995). The Cayenne Orange and Chocolate hues have been dropped for 2021.

Equinox Performance

Last year, we said it would be a tragic mistake not to go for the 252-hp and 260 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It seems Chevy buyers are fans of tragedy, as the more powerful engine has been dropped from the lineup. It will return in the facelifted model, but the evidence suggests that the 1.5-liter engine is more popular.

The smaller capacity engine is not a lousy powertrain, developing 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. The problem is that it's just not suited to the task at hand, namely moving a rather hefty vehicle. It might have worked in a smaller compact crossover, but the Equinox's weight proves to be a worthy adversary.

The result is a compact crossover that feels lazy in all situations with just one person on board. Chevrolet claims it can tow 1,500 lbs, but you'd have to be extremely patient to attempt this feat. The same is true when it comes to reaching the top speed of 115 mph, since the 0 to 60 'sprint' time is a lackadaisical 8.5 seconds, according to independent testers. All models come with FWD as standard, with AWD costing an additional $1,600 for the LS, LT and Premier.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Front View Driving Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Side View Driving Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Wheel Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot delivers 170 hp and 203 lb-ft and is standard on all four trims. The power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. An all-wheel-drive system is available for the LS, LT, and Premier trims.

There are two opposing forces continually working against this engine. The first is the Equinox's sheer weight, which is around 400 lbs too heavy for this engine. The second problem is the gearbox. It does what a gearbox should, but it could have done an even better job with more ratios. The small engine has a decent torque output, available at 2,500 rpm. With more ratios lower down, in-town acceleration would feel a lot livelier.

Alas, we can only dream. The fact is, this powertrain spec just doesn't work in this car. It's sluggish around town and downright annoying on the freeway.

  • Engine
    1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The underwhelming four-pot is even sadder when you factor the driving experience into the equation. The Equinox handles much better than Chevrolet's other SUVs. The steering is light and direct at low speeds, but the weight increases as the needle rises. It gives you some semblance of feedback, making it a fun car to engage with.

On the open road, it's more of the same. The Equinox corners confidently, and long, open stretches are dealt with comfortably. One note on the steering, however: The turning circle is wider than you'd expect. It may take some time to get accustomed to but this doesn't subtract from the overall driving experience. The brakes are powerful and provide the perfect amount of resistance via the pedal.

For a car that handles corners so well, the Equinox is surprisingly capable of smoothing out bumpy surfaces. Chevrolet could have included more sound-dampening, as wind, road, and strained engine noises regularly interrupt an otherwise serene cabin.

Equinox Gas Mileage

The Equinox's EPA-estimated mileage in FWD guise is 26/31/28 mpg city/highway/combined. The AWD variant offers 25/30/27 mpg. This is fairly impressive when viewed in isolation and considering the size of the vehicle. Things start falling apart once you glance over at the competition's figures. Even using a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic setup, the Mazda CX-5 gets uncomfortably close to the Equinox at 25/31/28 mpg. Meanwhile, the 2021 Honda CR-V has it downright beat. A 14.9-gallon tank on the FWD Equinox SUV, and a 15.6-gallon on the AWD, sees it travelling for 417 miles and 421 miles, respectively.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 26/31 mpg
* 2021 Chevrolet Equinox LS with 1FL FWD

Equinox Interior

Chevrolet scaled the Equinox back for this generation, basing it on a humble European hatchback. To be frank, it's hard to tell the difference. There's enough room for five passengers to sit comfortably. The interior design is simplistic and logical but not as upmarket as we would have liked, and the base models lack niceties like power adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel. The infotainment can be tricky to operate at first, but it's not so complex that you'd never be able to figure it out.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Dashboard Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Infotainment System Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Seat Details Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Equinox Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Equinox has enough head- and legroom to accommodate a family of five, although the middle seat in the rear is not suitable for adults. Seat comfort is outstanding, offering sufficient support for the back, hips, and upper legs. Sadly, the standard cloth upholstery doesn't look or feel particularly pleasant, and the perforated leather seats aren't much of an improvement.

The L and LS have manually adjustable front seats, while the LT and Premier trims offer eight-way power adjustment for the driver. The same is available for the passenger as an extra-cost option. Visibility is good, for the most part, but the thick rear pillars do make it difficult to monitor blind spots.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Front Head Room 40.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.5 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The L and LS trims come with a dreary Medium Ash Gray upholstery as standard. The LT can be ordered with Jet Black upholstery, but while this doesn't actually increase the price, it does require making $3,395 of changes first. The Premier has perforated leather as standard in three color options: Medium Ash, Jet Black, or a combination of Jet Black and Brandy (light brown). The cabin feels solid, but there is an unwelcome contrast between the softer upholstery and the hard plastics on the dash and door panels.

Equinox Trunk and Cargo Space

With all the seats in place, the Equinox offers 29.9 cubic feet of cargo space. That's a few cubes below par but still enough to accommodate day-to-day activities or a month's worth of groceries. With the back seats folded down in a 60/40 split, cargo capacity increases to 63.9 cubic feet. That's plenty of space for those odd occasions when you need to haul something big.

Cabin storage is impressive, as the Equinox comes standard with an abundance of cupholders, small bins, and trays.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Central Console Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Rear Passenger Seats Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Equinox Trunk Space Chevrolet

Equinox Infotainment and Features

Features

The base L trim may only have a few comforts and conveniences, but it's safety suite is nothing to scoff at. The list includes cruise control, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, a rearview camera, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, a teen driver system, keyless entry, manual air-conditioning, two 12-volt outlets, and a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

The LS doesn't add much extra as standard - namely a spare wheel and tire and floor mats - but it does allow for far more customization from packages and accessories. The LT includes HID headlights, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, SiriusXM, and access to the all-new Leather Package. The Premier adds remote start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, driver-seat memory, lane change and blind-spot alert, rear park assist and rear cross-traffic alert, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a hands-free power liftgate.

Infotainment

The L, LS, and LT come standard with a seven-inch touchscreen interface with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity. You can also create a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and charge devices from any of the four USB ports. The seven-inch infotainment is coupled to a six-speaker sound system. The Premier has an eight-inch version of the same infotainment system, as well as a wireless charging pad, and USB data ports with an SD card reader. If you're willing to fork out an additional $1,995 to keep the kids gruntled, there's an available rear-seat entertainment system, too.

Equinox Problems and Reliability

Consumer ratings of the Chevy Equinox are excellent - it scored 85 out of a possible 100 points in the J.D. Power customer survey. Owners were particularly impressed by the dealership experience, which received a rating of 88 out of 100. This speaks to its reliability and popularity.

Despite these glowing reports of the vehicle, the Equinox is not without problems. It was recalled three times in 2020, and has already seen one recall in 2021. The most recent was for incorrect bolts used to attach seatbelts, while the older faults included missing bolts on the stop/start accumulator, an improperly sealed seam on the fuel tank, and the possibility that the brake calipers may drag. Every Equinox is sold with a comprehensive 36-month/36,000-mile warranty, while the powertrain warranty and roadside assistance plan are valid for 60 months/60,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2021 Warranty \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Equinox Safety

Safety reviews of the Chevrolet Equinox return favorable results. The NHTSA gave the SUV an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. Only the rollover test scored less than perfect. Similarly, in its review of the Chevy Equinox, the IIHS awarded it a Top Safety Pick in 2020. The only black mark against its name is the Marginal rating it received for the base-model headlights.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

All Chevy Equinox models are blessed with a generous array of safety features. The list includes six airbags, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a rearview camera, stability control, traction control and a teen driver system. Upgrading to the top-spec model adds lane change alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox a good car?

The Chevrolet Equinox would rather blend into the background than stand out in a crowd. This is perfectly fine, as there are many out there who admire this quality. With a host of standard driver-assistance systems, a decent infotainment suite, and comfortable seats, the Equinox ticks several boxes. It's frugal as well, but not quite so much as the competition.

Speaking of rivals, we have to point out that while the Chevy handles well, it's not as comfortable as the Honda CR-V, nor as sporty as the Mazda CX-5. It occupies a small space right in the middle of those polar opposites. It lacks the spaciousness of both, but it's hard to ignore its safety features, especially since this is a family vehicle.

Even with the old powerful 2.0-liter engine, the Chevy wasn't a particularly stunning all-rounder. Now that only the underpowered engine is available, it's even harder to recommend. Considering how much competition it has in a very saturated market, the Equinox simply doesn't shine bright enough in any one category to make it stand out.

It's also worth pointing out that a heavily revised, new-faced Chevy Equinox is on the way, so if you purchase one now, it will be outdated by the third quarter. Either hang on or buy something else.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox?

The Chevrolet Equinox is one of the more affordable offerings in the small SUV segment. The base L has an MSRP of $23,800, while the LS retails for $26,300. The LT carries a base price of $27,500, while the top-spec Premier costs $31,400. Adding AWD to the LS, LT and Premier adds $1,600 to the bill. These Chevrolet prices exclude the destination charge of $1,195.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Models

There are four models in the Equinox range: the L, LS, LT, and Premier. A 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the only engine option available. It produces 170 hp and 203 lb-ft, sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive configurations are available for all but the base L trim

The L comes with 17-inch alloys, halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, manual air conditioning, cruise control, a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a six-speaker sound system. Standard safety features include lane keep assist and forward-collision warning.

Not much changes for the LS, but it does get a spare wheel and tire, and floor mats. Unlike the base model, though, it allows access to several optional packages and all-wheel-drive.

When you upgrade to the penultimate LT, HID headlights, a 4.2-inch information display in the instrument cluster, SiriusXM radio, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat become standard.

The Premier model gets the largest 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, fog lights, dual-zone climate control, power liftgate, an eight-inch infotainment system, wireless charging, and leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear park assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

See All 2021 Chevrolet Equinox Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are numerous packages available, but only a few worth mentioning. You can opt for the $685 Convenience Package on the LS trim, adding an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, two-way power lumbar support, and tinted rear glass. The LT comes with a new Leather Package that costs $1,350. Apart from leather upholstery, this also adds driver-seat memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and heated, power-adjustable auto-dimming side mirrors. However, this upgrade requires that you first spec on the Confidence and Convenience Package, which adds another $2,045. This essentially lifts the luxury level to be on par with the top model, adding remote start, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats.. The Premier has a more advanced Confidence and Convenience Package with even more luxuries like heated outboard rear seats, adaptive cruise control, and an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat.

🚗What Chevrolet Equinox SUV Model Should I Buy?

It's a tough call. Our previous recommendation was to avoid the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and go for a mid-spec LT with a 2.0-liter engine. That option no longer exists, so the Equinox's main selling point is value for money. With that in mind, we'd opt for the LS and include the Convenience Pack. This Equinox will cost you $27,085 MSRP. The LT doesn't add all that much extra and the Premier is significantly more expensive. If value for money isn't a concern, we recommend waiting a few months for the powerful 2.0-liter engine to return to the Equinox.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Comparisons

Ford Escape Ford
Chevrolet Traverse Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Equinox170 hp26/31 mpg$23,800
Ford Escape 181 hp27/33 mpg$25,555
Chevrolet Traverse 310 hp18/27 mpg$29,800

2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs Ford Escape

The Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox suffer from the same problems. Both are powered by underwhelming turbocharged engines and have low-quality interiors. The Ford looks edgier, but the Equinox will likely age better thanks to its subtle design.

From there on, the Ford scores top marks. The interior may be below par in certain places, but the touchscreen infotainment system is much better. The Escape also matches the Equinox's standard safety features, and it has more cargo capacity. The Escape's base engine might be underwhelming, but you will notice the difference at the pumps. With EPA-estimated figures of 27/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined, the 1.5-liter turbocharged triple is way ahead of Chevy's offering.

The Ford has some issues, but at the end of the day, it has fewer problems than the Equinox, and is a better all-around offering.

See Ford Escape Review

2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs Chevrolet Traverse

The Chevrolet Traverse might seem like an odd comparison considering how large it is, but entry-level prices for the Traverse start where the Equinox range ends. The Traverse offers a lot more interior space and a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6 for better performance. It's going to consume a lot more gas than the Equinox, but it will be worth it. Spec for spec, the Traverse feels plusher. From base upward, you get a nice infotainment system and loads of driver-assistance features. If, however, you want the most luxurious Traverse, you need to part with at least $50,000. If you need more room, the Traverse beats the Equinox, but the opposite is true if you're economically minded.

See Chevrolet Traverse Review

Chevrolet Equinox Popular Comparisons

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2021 Chevrolet Equinox Video Reviews

Check out some informative Chevrolet Equinox video reviews below.

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