With the shuttering of its Oshawa, Ont., manufacturing facilities, the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox stands alone as the only General Motors (GM) product built in Canada.
Canadian-made vehicles like this Ingersoll, Ont.-built SUV should matter more to the buying public; after all, the plants that produce them create well-paying jobs in our communities. But buying them for the sake of it doesn’t make much sense – especially for those looking for the most value for their money. While the Equinox has qualities that might appeal to a particular subset of customers, on the whole, the lower-than-average fuel economy and lack of key feature content for the price could be difficult to overcome.
Here, the Equinox strikes a balance of two extremes. The exterior looks fantastic with the Midnight Edition package. But it doesn’t come cheap, because it requires two other options packages be added first, resulting in a price premium of more than $4,000. But the black badging, 19-inch gloss black wheels, and unique grille and fog lamp surrounds make this sport utility look slick.
The interior, on the other hand, doesn’t come across as well. The black-on-black treatment carried inside by the Midnight Edition treatment highlights both the materials used and the number of movement lines going in all directions, neither of which make a great impression.
A solid group of safety features is included: lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and Chevrolet’s Teen Driver feature are standard. The 2020 Equinox earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
There are a few practicalities that the Equinox does better than some of its competition: its rear doors are large for easy second-row access, and the seats fold nicely flat for those times when it’s necessary to carry long cargo. The cargo space itself is also larger than many competitors; there’s 847 L with the rear seats up and 1,809 L with them folded.
User Friendliness: 7.5/10
A few items stand out for their user-friendliness as well. When equipped, there’s a push-button setup to toggle the all-wheel drive system – a rare level of user control that’s not common these days. There’s also a dial on the driver’s side door to adjust the height of the power tailgate, a handy feature for those with indoor parking. Plus, the centre stack’s button layout is simple and intuitive.
There are levers for dropping the rear seats from the cargo area, but they’re manual rather than powered. They don’t look especially up-market, but at least they’re fast, which the powered versions often are not.
I did, however, find the distance between the brake and gas pedals to be far enough apart that it led to shin cramps in stop-and-go traffic.
The infotainment system in this trim runs through a seven-inch touchscreen, which does feel a bit small in this dashboard layout. However, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
On the Premium trim, an eight-inch screen is available. Drivers looking for a heated steering wheel – as well as heated rear seats and adaptive cruise – will have to step up to the Premium grade and select either the True North Edition or Confidence & Convenience II package.
It’s noisy while it’s getting there – which may have more to do with the soundproofing than the engine – but as far as the 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is concerned I have no complaints. I don’t think I would want to buy the standard 1.5-litre engine, but I’m sure there are people out there who wouldn’t care either way. Those looking for the diesel version won’t find it new in the 2020 Equinox, though there may still be some 2019 units kicking around on dealer lots.
There’s plenty of passenger space for the class, so that’s a positive. But there’s that pedal issue, and in this car as equipped, the lack of sunroof makes this interior feel quite dark. (A sunroof is available on the LT and Premium grades for an extra charge.)
Driving Feel: 8/10
No complaints here. It’s no sports car, but the Equinox rolls over rough roads smoothly and with no surprises, which is all just about anyone expects from an SUV of this size.
Fuel Economy: 6.5/10
This might be the Equinox’s biggest issue. The Natural Resources Canada ratings on paper are 10.9 L/100 km in city driving, 8.3 on the highway, and 9.7 combined. Over my week with the Equinox, which was roughly equal in city and highway driving, I averaged 10.1. There are plenty of other compact SUVs on the market with all-wheel drive and similar power output that do much better.
Feature availability is an issue with the Equinox. On one hand, many standard connectivity and infotainment features are standard. But some popular convenience and comfort features – like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and adaptive cruise control – require shoppers to step up to the top trim and then add a package on top of it. Many competitors are equipping these things much more affordably.
For the right buyer – one who deeply values features like the in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and two second-row USB charging ports, which go a long way toward keeping teenagers happy – this might be worth considering. But as much as it pains me to say it – because again, buying Canadian is a good thing when it makes sense for you – there are an awful lot of cases where the lack of feature content and below-average fuel economy will mean that the Equinox isn’t the right fit.
|252 hp @ 5,500 rpm
|260 lb-ft @ 2,500–4,500 rpm
|10.9/8.3/9.7 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb
|847 / 1,809 L seats down
|2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT 2.0T
|Price as Tested
$4,765 – Midnight Edition package, $1,995; Confidence and Convenience package, $2,195; Mosaic Black paint, $495; wheel locks, $80