Review: 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T
Well-done tech but short on feature content.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: GM is knocking tech features out of the park.
- What’s Bad: The interior is not stylish enough to make up for it.
So, your neighbour bought an all-wheel-drive SUV, and you figure it’s probably time you bought one, too. After all, everyone else seems to be doing it.
But there are just so many of them to choose from. Where do you start?
A good launching point is to have a close look at what features your family wishes it had. Some people want their next vehicle to have better fuel economy. Others care about style or value for money.
If it’s better technology features you’re after, the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox could be worth considering. It’s not the best compact, two-row SUV around in every aspect, but it is good at satisfying a family full of screen fiends.
Pared-down Engine Options
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox had a diesel engine available, but that’s been discontinued for 2020. That leaves a buyer’s choices as the standard 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the one equipped in this tester, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that’s good for 252 hp and 260 lb-ft. of torque from 2,500 rpm. It’s matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive in this LT grade Midnight Edition.
For this car, I wouldn’t want any less engine than what the 2.0T provides, but this amount of power works. It’s a little on the noisy side, though – but that may be more a factor of the soundproofing not being as strong as in some competitors – and the gearbox feels to me as though it’s too eager to downshift early, but that only comes up every so often.
One upside of this powertrain is the hard button for toggling all-wheel drive. Increasingly fewer SUVs offer this control, and perhaps that’s because it’s not something a lot of people want to think about. But if you’re one of those who still does, here’s a car that offers it.
On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the fuel consumption figures for this Equinox configuration are, within its segment, not great. The Natural Resources Canada figures come in at 10.9 L/100 km in city driving, 8.3 on the highway, and 9.7 combined. My average over the course of a week that was roughly 50/50 came out to 10.1. There’s a stout list of competitors with all-wheel drive and similarly sized engines that do better.
Paint It Black
I don’t normally love black-on-black stuff, and I don’t normally find the Equinox especially eye-catching. But this Midnight Edition? Different story. For $1,995 more than the standard LT model – okay, $4,190 more, because you also have to add on the Driver Confidence and Convenience Package – the Midnight Edition has black metallic paint combined with a blacked-out grille and bowties, 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, dark-finish fog lamp bezel surrounds, and upgraded mirrors, upholstery, and seat memory settings. Every time I walked out my front door, I smiled when I saw this thing sitting in my driveway. There’s something about the black that really draws out the curved accent lines in the door panels and the chrome accents on the windows. It looks good.
(For the record, the Driver Confidence and Convenience Package is $2,195 on its own and includes a power liftgate with dial height adjuster, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind zone alert, fog lamps, and a universal home remote. If that’s something you’d sign up for anyway, then the tied-together pricing isn’t so bad.)
Inside, I’m not quite as enamoured. The Midnight Edition continues the black-on-black theme into the interior, and while that’s understandable, I find it draws attention to the fact that the materials don’t look or feel especially nice in some places. A sunroof is available, and you’d want to consider springing for it: leaving it off means the cabin feels quite dark.
There are positives here, though. The rear doors are massive, which helps rear passengers get in and out easily, plus the second-row seats fold nicely flat. In higher grades, there are manual pull levers in the cargo area for dropping the rear seats as opposed to a powered function – it looks a little budget, but then again, there’s no waiting around.
Solid Tech, but Short on Features
My instinct was that the screen in the Equinox LT is smaller than I remember, and that turned out to be correct. While the Premier model gets an 8-inch version, the standard here is 7 inches. That aside, I’m a fan of what GM is doing with its infotainment systems lately: there’s standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM is included with a trial subscription at the LT level, and the whole thing is easy to learn and becomes intuitive quickly.
This test unit also has two USB charging ports in the back row, which pairs nicely with the available in-car 4G LTE WiFi (though it should be noted that this requires an OnStar subscription and the data rates may or may not be better than your own plan – this is worth investigating if this is a purchase factor).
The list of safety features offered is also quite good. Standard equipment includes forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and Chevrolet’s Teen Driver feature that lets you geofence and speed-limit a learner using their key fob.
A wireless charger and GM’s haptic-feedback safety alert driver’s seat are only available on the Premium grade, which isn’t all that surprising. But a heated steering wheel and outboard rear seats, plus active cruise control, are in the same boat and can only be added to that trim with a package, which puts those desirable features at a high price point.
I don’t enjoy having to say that an Ontario-built car is not the one I’d choose for myself. And for a family with device-addicted teenagers, the Equinox has some qualities worth considering. But overall, there are other SUVs in this size bracket that deliver better fuel economy and more feature value for the price.
2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T
BODY STYLE: Compact crossover
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
POWER: 2.0-litre turbo 4-cylinder; 252 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY: (L/100km) 10.9 city/8.3 hwy/9.7 combined
PRICE: $41,663 as tested, including freight and PDI
WEBSITE: Chevrolet Equinox