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2019 Chevrolet Equinox Review

There’s a lot to like about the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, even if the best configuration requires a careful hand on the order sheet.

As drivers fill their garages with crossover SUVs instead of sedans, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox stands out for its unusually broad lineup. With the 2019 Equinox, Chevrolet offers shoppers a choice between two gas engines, a high-mpg turbodiesel engine, front- or all-wheel drive, and four trim levels.


That depth and breadth isn’t the only thing we like about the Equinox, though. This crossover SUV scores 5.5 out of 10 points on our scale for its good looks and refined demeanor. Its interior could be classier, though, and we fault Chevy for not making advanced safety gear more widely available.

After a redesign last year, the 2019 Equinox gains updated infotainment software for its 7.0- and 8.0-inch touchscreens and an available HD rearview camera.

The Equinox is available in L, LS, LT and Premier trim levels, with many option packages and engine choices. The Equinox is closely related to the GMC Terrain, but it has its own styling and most models have a different automatic transmission.

Underhood, a 170-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbo-4 is standard. It’s paired to a 6-speed automatic (the Terrain uses a 9-speed automatic with that engine). Optional on LT and Premier trims are two upgrade engines: a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 252 hp hooked up to a 9-speed automatic, and a 1.6-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder/6-speed automatic combination with just 137 hp that’s good for up to 39 mpg on the highway according to the EPA. Most trims are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

The Equinox drives well, with good isolation from the road and a comfortable ride, but even the 252-hp engine is light on thrills. A sporty crossover akin to the Ford Escape and Subaru Forester XT, the Equinox is not. For most buyers, that’s probably just fine.

Inside, the Equinox provides good room for four passengers and their cargo and serviceable if not luxurious appointments. Outward vision isn’t a strong suit given its beefy roof pillars, but this year’s new HD rearview camera may help rectify that. On the tech front, the Equinox scores high for its standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Unfortunately, Chevy restricts automatic emergency braking—which now can detected and brake for errant pedestrians—to only the highest trim levels. Many rivals make that gear standard or at least far more affordable.

Even if collision-avoidance tech is restricted to costly Equinox crossovers, all have performed well in both federal and independent crash tests.

Styling
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox looks good from most angles, albeit with some quirks.

The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox has pleasant curves from most angles, but some quirks to its styling inside and out mean that we figure it’s just above average overall. It’s a 6 out of 10 in our eyes for its styling. 

Up front, the 2019 Crossover wears a wide, two-tiered grille flanked by one of three headlight types: halogens on base L and LS trims, HIDs on the Equinox LT, and LEDs on the costly Equinox Premier. Those lights sweep into a curvy side that belies the Equinox’s two-box profile.

It’s at the rear that things start to fall apart with an upright look that feels more minivan than crossover to us. Equinox crossovers with the upgraded turbo-4 engine feature a pair of chromed exposed exhaust outlets, a subtle reminder that they’re peppier.
Step inside through especially wide front and rear doors and the Equinox reveals a curvy dashboard that’s logically arranged. Unlike the Terrain’s transmission buttons, the Equinox uses a conventional lever and it’s all the better for it.

Centered high on the dash is a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment on most models. An 8.0-inch version comes on the Equinox Premier only.

Depending on the trim level, Chevy offers numerous interior shades ranging from workaday gray cloth to blackout charcoal to warm brown leather.

Performance
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox may be light on thrills, but all versions perform well.

With three engines on offer, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox looks to have something for everyone. It almost succeeds and models with the 2.0-liter turbo-4 would earn a point above average for their strong acceleration. However, our scale rewards the models most likely found on dealer lots, so the Equinox scores a 5 out of 10 here. 

Most Equinox crossovers use a 1.5-liter inline-4 rated at 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque that sends power to the front or all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic. This setup is perfectly adequate for most use, with good shift quality and plenty of around-town scoot.  

Those interested in more thrust should opt for the 2.0-liter turbo-4 available in the LT and Premier trim levels. With 252 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque on tap, the bigger turbo-4 rarely struggles. Its 9-speed automatic can seem confused by the number of cogs available. Don’t expect the most powerful Equinox to be a sports car alternative, however. Like the rest of the lineup, its handling is good, with confident steering and a supple ride—but it’s no sportier.

Likely to be rare on dealer lots, at least unless gas prices spike, is the turbodiesel option. The 1.6-liter turbodiesel’s 137 hp may sound weak, but the 240 pound-feet of torque that comes on at 2,000 rpm delivers decent performance. The diesel option may be thrifty—the EPA says it’s good for 32 mpg combined—but it’s not without its demerits. For one, towing capacity is just 1,500 pounds compared to 3,500 pounds for the 2.0-liter gas engine, which erases one conventional reason for buying a turbodiesel. Moreover, the option costs $2,400, which will take a long time for even long-haul drivers to recover.

Regardless of engine, the Equinox has a quiet, composed ride and its steering is light but accurate. In our testing, we’ve found that models with the 17-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber—L, LS, and most LTs—can feel a little squirrely when pushed. The 18-inch Hankook tires on high-spec models deliver crisper handling without any noticeable detriment to the way the crossover rides.

No Equinox is ready for off-road use beyond a trundle up a dirt driveway, which makes its part-time all-wheel-drive system a head-scratcher. The system can be set in two-wheel-drive mode to save fuel, which seems nice, but drivers must then remember to flip it back to all-wheel drive when the snow flies or the rain drops. For pavement-oriented crossovers such as the Equinox, we prefer simpler systems that disconnect the rear wheels automatically and don’t require driver intervention.

Comfort & Quality
The trim-proportioned 2019 Chevy Equinox uses its interior space well.

Last year’s redesign shrunk the Equinox to better compete against crossovers such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. That means this model isn’t as roomy inside as it once was. The tradeoff is that it’s more nimble to drive and fits better in garages—and, anyway, Chevy dealers will happily sell the larger Traverse or the newly announced 2019 Blazer.

We rate the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox at 6 out of 10, giving it a point above average for the way most versions accommodate front-seat occupants. 

Shop wisely, though: the base Equinox L and LS trims have a driver’s seat that’s not height-adjustable. Those configurations are likely rare on dealer lots, though, and the Equinox LS with the inexpensive Convenience Package subs in an 8-way power driver’s seat that’s standard on the rest of the lineup. The front seats offer good support, are adequately bolstered, and offer terrific ingress and egress.

We miss the old Equinox’s useful sliding second row, but the rear bench has good room for three abreast in a pinch even if its cushion is a little flat and its doors surprisingly wide for tight parking spots. Cargo utility remains an Equinox asset. The two-piece rear seatback folds to grow cargo space from nearly 30 cubic feet to 63.5 cubes and a relatively high window line means it’s easy to stack suitcases without blocking the view astern.

No Equinox feels especially dressy inside, though materials are adequate for the prices Chevy charges. The standard cloth seats have a tough, durable feel that makes them appealing. Only the Equinox Premier includes leather upholstery, which bumps the price of entry to about $32,000.

Safety
The 2019 Chevy Equinox does well in crash tests, but its advanced safety gear is pricey.

Crash-testers say the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox holds up well in an impact, but shame on Chevy for making tech that would avoid those bumps a costly option. We rate it at just 5 out of 10, giving the 2019 Equinox a point for a five-star overall score from the NHTSA and then deducting it because automatic emergency braking should not require buyers to spend upward of $34,000.

One additional caveat: our score is based on the 2018 Equinox; when crash-test results for the 2019 arrive, we’ll update this space. We don’t expect many changes.

The NHTSA says that the Equinox held up well in its testing with a commendable five-star rating overall. The IIHS agreed, scoring Chevy’s compact crossover SUV with “Good” ratings in every test. The only thing holding it back from a Top Safety Pick award is its headlights, which rated “Marginal” regardless of bulb type.

The range-topping Equinox Premier comes standard with blind-spot monitors, which are optional on the LT and not available on the L and LS trims.

Optional only on Equinox LT and Premier trims—and bundled in expensive packages—is a suite of high-tech safety gear including low-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Competitors such as the 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Subaru Forester come standard with even more advanced gear such as full-speed automatic emergency braking. Most other rivals make such important safety tech available at a more reasonable price.

Features
The highly configurable 2019 Chevy Equinox delivers a good value, as long as you’re careful with options.

At first glance, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox’s broad lineup can intimidate. Parse it down through a few combinations, however, and this crossover offers a lot of vehicle for the money. We rate it a 6 out of 10, awarding it a point above average for its big screen and comprehensive infotainment system and it narrowly misses another for its relatively high degree of customizability.

The Equinox L anchors the lineup, but it’s only available with front-wheel drive and a choice of white or silver paint. Don’t be lured in by its sub-$25,000 price tag because you probably won’t find one on a dealer lot. Instead, the Equinox LS tacks on $2,000 more for, well, not much: a compass and a spare tire, plus the option of adding more colors and features for more money. Chevy’s frustrating strategy is borderline deceptive, but we’re stuck with it.

The Equinox LS doesn’t offer much in the way of options aside from a single package with a power driver’s seat and tinted rear windows for about $700, but it’s fairly well-equipped for less than $30,000 with all-wheel drive.

We’d still pop for the Equinox LT, mainly because it’s the gateway to the advanced safety gear we covered in a separate section. For about $31,800, an LT with the optional Confidence and Convenience package and all-wheel drive strikes us as a good value with a few nice features such as heated and air conditioned cloth seats up front.

If leather is on your list, you’ll have to step up to the Equinox Premier. Even then, we recommend the Confidence and Convenience package that boosts the price to about $35,000 with all-wheel drive. That’s not light money, and adding the more powerful turbo-4 engine, one of several dashing extra-cost paint shades, and Bose speakers with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment and baked-in navigation pushes the Equinox into the $40,000 range. And that’s before you’ve tossed in niceties such as a panoramic moonroof.

Fuel Economy
For a crossover SUV, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox can be quite thrifty.

At first glance, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox’s broad lineup can intimidate. Parse it down through a few combinations, however, and this crossover offers a lot of vehicle for the money. We rate it a 6 out of 10, awarding it a point above average for its big screen and comprehensive infotainment system and it narrowly misses another for its relatively high degree of customizability.

The Equinox L anchors the lineup, but it’s only available with front-wheel drive and a choice of white or silver paint. Don’t be lured in by its sub-$25,000 price tag because you probably won’t find one on a dealer lot. Instead, the Equinox LS tacks on $2,000 more for, well, not much: a compass and a spare tire, plus the option of adding more colors and features for more money. Chevy’s frustrating strategy is borderline deceptive, but we’re stuck with it.

The Equinox LS doesn’t offer much in the way of options aside from a single package with a power driver’s seat and tinted rear windows for about $700, but it’s fairly well-equipped for less than $30,000 with all-wheel drive.

We’d still pop for the Equinox LT, mainly because it’s the gateway to the advanced safety gear we covered in a separate section. For about $31,800, an LT with the optional Confidence and Convenience package and all-wheel drive strikes us as a good value with a few nice features such as heated and air conditioned cloth seats up front.

If leather is on your list, you’ll have to step up to the Equinox Premier. Even then, we recommend the Confidence and Convenience package that boosts the price to about $35,000 with all-wheel drive. That’s not light money, and adding the more powerful turbo-4 engine, one of several dashing extra-cost paint shades, and Bose speakers with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment and baked-in navigation pushes the Equinox into the $40,000 range. And that’s before you’ve tossed in niceties such as a panoramic moonroof.

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