Crossover & Midsize

2020 vs. 2021 Chevy Equinox: Which Is the Better Buy?

The Chevy Equinox continues to be one of the most popular compact SUVs. It helps that the Equinox gets small updates each year to keep things fresh. But because of delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Equinox received only some small changes.

That means the refreshed exterior that was supposed to debut for 2021 has been pushed back to 2022. Is it still worth it to buy a 2021 Chevy Equinox? Or should shoppers stick with a potentially cheaper 2020 model if they’re looking to purchase a compact SUV soon?

The 2020 Chevy Equinox

A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 170 hp drives the 2020 Chevy Equinox, U.S. News reports. The motor comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive, providing good gas mileage of 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Still, this isn’t critics’ and consumers’ favored powertrain for its sluggish acceleration and finicky gear shifting. The base model’s starting MSRP is around $23,000, but dealerships may be offering buyer incentives to offload 2020 models.

Another option is the 2.0-liter turbo-four capable of 252 hp, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This allows the Chevy Equinox to go faster, tow more, and handle better. A diesel engine that was optional on the 2019 model was dropped for 2020.

Other 2020 updates include some newly standard safety features. They include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, and forward-collision warning. That’s a big improvement over 2019, which included only Teen Driver, a rear-seat reminder alert, and the mandated reverse camera. The 2020 model still comes standard with smartphone integration and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The 2020 model also boasts some new appearance packages, including the Midnight Edition for the LT trim. As the name suggests, it comes with a jet-black interior, blacked-out wheels, and matte-black exterior paint. The Sport Edition from 2019 is also still available on the 2020 LT trim.

The 2020 model year also saw the debut of the Redline Edition for the top-tier Chevy Equinox Premier. It comes with exclusive red-outlined black Chevy bowties and red rims around the blacked-out wheels. It also sports a unique grille design and black window frames instead of the traditional silver ones.

What changed for 2021?

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Chevrolet added no new powertrain options for the 2021 Equinox and removed the optional 2.0-liter turbo-four, MotorTrend reports. This could be the biggest dealbreaker for performance-minded drivers. And even with this engine’s absence, the top 2021 Equinox trims are still more expensive than the 2020 models. However, the base price is still around $23,800, according to U.S. News.

A new leather interior package is available for the second-best Chevy Equinox trim, which gives drivers leather seats with memory settings. Auto-dimming rearview and outside mirrors are also included. The Chevy Equinox LT has two more packages that give drivers more infotainment features, safety technology, and seat comfort enhancements.

The interior on the 2021 model is the same as it was for 2020. It’s not very stylish, but the seats are comfortable, and there’s plenty of room for riders of all heights. The 2021 Chevy Equinox still offers ample cargo space and even a secret storage compartment under the load floor.

What to expect from the 2022 Equinox

Chevrolet has already announced several updates to the Equinox for the 2022 model year, Car and Driver reported. With an updated grille design and sleek new headlights, the front end looks more stylish. And a new trim level, the Equinox RS, promises to offer a sportier interior. 

The automaker also announced better cabin materials in the Equinox’s top trims. Best of all, the 2.0-liter engine that was previously discontinued will return for 2022.

We’re not saying the 2021 Chevy Equinox is a waste of money, but the 2022 model promises some exciting upgrades. Plus, you can probably find a brand-new 2020 Equinox at a great price now that dealerships are motivated to move older models.