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2021 Chevrolet Equinox Performance

#6 out of 16 in Compact SUVs

U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Chevrolet Equinox Performance Review


Performance: 6.8

Performance in the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox is a mixed bag. Most say the base powertrain is OK, though a bit weak, and it's fuel-efficient. The optional engine delivers more power and quicker acceleration. Ride quality is acceptable, while handling leaves a few things to be desired.

  • "The Equinox offers a choice of two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The standard 1.5-liter engine is adequate and efficient. The 2.0-liter engine grants brisk acceleration and passing power. That powertrain also enables the Equinox to tow up to 3,500 pounds — a lot for this class." -- Autotrader
  • "The Equinox is surprisingly fun to drive. It's about as fun as the Mazda CX-5, and the turbocharged engines in each car stack up well against each other. If sporty driving dynamics are your thing, you should definitely check out the Equinox. You'd normally have to upgrade to a luxury-branded SUV to get this level of engagement." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "Fun to drive, however, the Equinox is not. Chevy has improved on the old model's spongy brakes and excessive body roll, but the steering remains too soupy for any curvy-road thrills. It's a vague, slow-ratio process to point the SUV in new directions, and feedback doesn't improve much through long sweeping turns. For sheer driving fun, the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5 are still kings of the hill." -- Cars.com (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Chevrolet Equinox comes with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Reviews of this powertrain are mixed, with some critics saying that it delivers sufficient acceleration, but others noting that it feels weak. The optional engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This set-up delivers brisker acceleration and better power.

With the standard engine and front-wheel drive, the Equinox gets 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those estimates are good for a compact SUV. Models with the base engine and all-wheel drive get 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. With the larger engine, the Equinox returns 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and 28 mpg with all-wheel drive.

  • "Underpowered and frequently out of breath, the base four-cylinder won't win any fans with its sluggish performance. … It takes a heavy foot to hustle the Equinox up to highway speeds. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available, though, and it's far better suited for the Equinox's weight. The standard six-speed automatic shifts seamlessly, but in the interest of fuel economy, the gearbox is reluctant to downshift when extra power is needed." -- Car and Driver
  • "The standard 170-horsepower 1.5-liter is adequate for ordinary needs. If you want appreciable power, look to the optional 252-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque adequately move this SUV. We found that its standard 6-speed automatic transmission pairs well with the small engine. Those seeking considerably more kick should step up to an LT or Premier trim and then get the larger and more powerful engine. The optional 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine outpowers competitors with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque." -- Autotrader

Handling and Braking

The Chevy Equinox also earns mixed reviews for its ride and handling. Most testers thought the ride quality was comfortable, but some noted that larger wheels make for a harsher ride. The Equinox isn't particularly agile, and steering feel is fairly numb.

  • "Whichever engine you choose, the Equinox’s ride quality falls on the softer end of the spectrum. It won’t whip around corners like a Mazda CX-5, but if you appreciate comfort, there’s much to like in the Equinox." -- Autotrader
  • "Whichever power plant you choose, we found the Equinox’s ride on the softer and more comfortable side. Cornering is acceptable but not as athletic as that of a Mazda CX-5." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Agreeable and easy to drive, the Equinox handles competently, and its steering is accurate and direct. The ride is a bit harsh, particularly with the optional 19-inch wheels (17s or 18s come standard, depending on the trim), where rougher stretches of road transmit some unpleasantness into the cabin." -- Car and Driver
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