2019 Chevrolet Equinox review: The risk-averse SUV
Oftentimes, a car makes a strong impression after your initial stint behind the wheel. But after my first of many commutes in the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox , there wasn't much that stood out, for better or worse.
Turns out, that's the Equinox in a nutshell. It's a decent, middle-of-the-road crossover SUV. It's not particularly bad in any one way, but it does little to impress you, as well.
The Chevy Equinox offers three different powertrain options. The base engine is a 1.5-liter, turbocharged I4 with 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Chevy also offers a turbodiesel engine option: a 1.6-liter I4 with 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet, also paired with a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
My tester, however, uses the Equinox's range-topping, 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 engine, which puts out a healthy 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. It's a fine, but unremarkable powerplant, offering smooth acceleration and plenty of torque for midrange passing. The 2.0T's nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its business without any harsh gear changes, and nicely fades into the background of the driving experience. With this turbo engine, the Equinox is also capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds.
If you opt for all-wheel drive, note that it's not an always-on system. The Equinox defaults to front-wheel drive unless the driver selects AWD from a dial on the center console. That's great for keeping the Equinox in fuel-saving FWD mode, but I also feel like people who buy all-wheel drive want the car to shift power rearward automatically, all the time.
The Equinox comes with a stop/start system that helps with fuel economy, though it can't be easily turned off. Thankfully, this is one of the more refined stop/start systems I've tested, so I'm not mad about it being activated all the time. Even so, after a week of testing, I saw just 21 miles per gallon in my 2.0T tester, which is noticeably lower than the 24-mpg EPA rating.
Around town, the Equinox drives pleasantly enough, with light but accurate steering. It's far from a corner-carver -- if driver engagement is a priority, check out the Mazda CX-5 -- but the Equinox does offer a comfortable, compliant ride that most crossover shoppers will enjoy.
The Equinox comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but my tester has the optional 8-inch display, running the easy-to-use Chevrolet Infotainment 3 interface, complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. This infotainment tech also includes Chevy's Teen Driver monitor, which can track your kid's driving habits, and allows you to set a speed warning and even set a speed limiter. Heck, you can even set a limit on the audio volume (consider it a public service so other drivers don't have to be subjected to whatever awful nonsense kids are listening to these days).
Keeping your smart devices charged shouldn't be a problem in the Equinox, with four standard USB ports, including Type A and Type C outlets. Two 12-volt outlets are also available -- one up front and one in the cargo area -- as well as a 120-volt, three-prong outlet. On the top-level Premier trim, wireless phone charging is available.
The Equinox doesn't skimp on driver's aids, as long as you're willing to pay for them. Parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring come standard on the Equinox Premier, and are optional on the LT trim. If you want lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert and low-speed forward automatic braking, you have to pay extra -- even on the Premier. A lot of these features come standard on competitors like the Toyota RAV4, and are offered on all but the base trim of the Honda CR-V.
Overall, the Equinox's interior disappoints. A lot of the materials are of poor quality, and the overall design is super outdated. Plus, it's loud, with lots of wind and road noise permeating the cabin. My LT tester retails for $36,580 -- at this price, I expect better.
Cargo capacity is adequate, with 29.9 cubic feet of space behind the back seats, expanding to 63.5 with the rear bench folded flat. The Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Rogue all offer far more space.
Playing it safe
For my money, the most interesting way to spec the Equinox is with the 1.6-liter diesel engine. With front-wheel drive, the diesel-powered SUV is estimated to achieve 32 mpg, which is a huge improvement over the 2.0-liter turbocharged model tested here. I'd spring for the $1,545 Confidence and Convenience to add rear-cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and heated front seats, but I'd leave the $1,145 Infotainment package on the table, since even the smaller screen gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I can always use these phone systems for navigation. All in, my ideal Equinox stickers for $32,340, including $1,195 for destination -- several thousand dollars less than the car you see here.
Aside from its many engine options, there isn't a lot to help the Equinox stand out in a crowded crossover class. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since this midsize SUV checks a lot of the right boxes for what the average consumer wants. Still, those looking for an SUV with more personality and a nicer interior will likely find better options from other brands.