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2021 Chevy Equinox vs. GMC Terrain: It’s All About the Details

You might have a hard time deciding between the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2021 GMC Terrain. After all, these two SUVs are practically twins. What might make you choose the GMC Terrain over the Chevy Equinox?

Driving the 2021 Chevy Equinox vs. the GMC Terrain 

A photo of the Chevrolet Equinox outdoors.
Chevrolet Equinox | Chevrolet

Since the Equinox and the Terrain share the same platform, they offer similar experiences performance-wise. Both the Equinox and the Terrain come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 170-hp. They are also standard with front-wheel-drive with all-wheel-drive available as an option. Although the Equinox’s engine comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Terrain’s gets a nine-speed automatic. 

A red GMC Terrain on display at a car show
GMC Terrain on display | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Critics call out the Equinox and the Terrain for the same reason. While the engine they share is fuel-efficient and suitable for everyday drives, it can feel underpowered at higher speeds. An update for 2021 is that the Equinox is no longer available with a more powerful engine option. On the other hand, the Terrain is available with a  turbocharged 252-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. So if more power is what you crave, the Terrain has the advantage here.

Comparing car cabins

interior seat photo of 2021 Chevy Equinox
2021 Chevy Equinox Interior | Chevy

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The Equinox and the Terrain are comfortable five-seaters that present sufficient cargo space. Most reviewers, including U.S. News, say that the Equinox is a mixed bag on the inside. The Equinox’s interior looks nice enough, and its seats are notably supportive. However, the Chevy’s assorted plastic finishings make it feel cheap.

Some buyers favor the Terrain over the Equinox because it comes with a few more superior finishings. Cloth upholstery is standard for the Equinox and the Terrain, with leather as an option. Other amenities for these SUVs include heated seats and a heated steering wheel. 

Front seats of the 2021 GMC Terrain.
2021 GMC Terrain Interior | GMC

The Terrain, in particular, becomes more luxury-focused as you climb trim levels. Not only does the Terrain’s top-of-the-line Denali SLT trim have leather goodies, but it also adds performance enhancements, including a premium suspension with enhanced shock control. Conversely, the Equinox’s top-tier Premier trim doesn’t offer the same performance features. 

When it comes to modern tech, you can’t go wrong with either SUV. The Equinox and the Terrain come with a user-friendly infotainment system that consists of a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a wifi hotspot. They also come with advanced safety features, including forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.  

How would you decide between the Equinox and the Terrain?

the 2021 Chevy Equinox in an outdoor press photo
2021 Chevy Equinox | Chevy

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The Equinox and the Terrain both have decent ratings for predicted reliability. Furthermore, what also adds peace of mind is that the two SUVs have earned excellent crash safety scores. But ultimately, deciding between the two comes down to the smaller details. 

2020 GMC Terrain Denali driving
GMC Terrain Denali | GMC

A 2021 Equinox has a MSRP range of $23,800 to $33,000. The 2021 Terrain costs a bit more and ranges between $25,000 to $34,100. If you want to keep things standard, it makes more sense to go with the Equinox; the base Terrain isn’t worth the extra $1200. But if you’d like to splurge on an American SUV, the Terrain’s Denali SLT trim is worthwhile.