Crossover & Midsize

Skip the 2021 Honda CR-V for This Rival if You Want a Budget SUV

The 2021 Honda CR-V excels in the most important categories, crushing its competition. However, in classic David vs. Goliath fashion, the 2021 Chevy Equinox is a savvy purchase for particular shoppers. 

How does the often-forgotten Equinox rival the critically acclaimed CR-V? Chevy wisely gave the Equinox an advantage in the most significant area where the CR-V falls short. Let’s closely inspect the differences between these compact SUVs. That way, we can determine if you’re the type of driver who would benefit from buying a 2021 Chevy Equinox over Honda’s best-selling vehicle.

2021 Honda CR-V shoppers hate 1 aspect about the SUV

A blue 2021 Honda CR-V Touring driving down a highway road
The 2021 Honda CR-V Touring in action | Honda

You may think of getting the best bang for your buck by purchasing a Honda during your next car-buying adventure. After all, the brand makes value-packed, dependable models, right? While that statement is true in some regard, you’ll be disappointed by some of the 2021 Honda CR-V’s offerings.

Honda paired the compact SUV’s base model with bare-bones features. These lackluster amenities include a tiny five-inch infotainment display, a four-speaker sound system, one USB port, and an uncomfortable driver’s seat. Plus, it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring capability. 

The 2021 Honda CR-V LX’s starting MSRP of $25,350 isn’t indicative of these underwhelming options. So drivers looking to upgrade into an SUV will cutting-edge features may feel like they’ve been left in the dust. 

Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Equinox costs slightly less, beginning at $24,995. Most importantly, Chevrolet didn’t cheap out by providing it with substandard equipment. The entry-level Equinox L features a seven-inch touchscreen display compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Plus, it has four USB ports, six speakers, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Is the base 2021 Chevy Equinox as good as it seems?

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Yes. This value-packed compact SUV is the real deal. Most consumers will be happier inside the Equinox L’s cabin rather than a base CR-V. It even holds a slight edge in a category that Honda models typically dominate.

Chevrolet goes tic-for-tac with Honda’s driver-assistance technologies. Both models come with front-crash prevention systems, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning. However, the 2021 Chevy Equinox also comes standard with a Teen Driver system and rear-seat reminder. Neither feature is available in any 2021 Honda CR-V model.

How do the 2021 Honda CR-V and Chevy Equinox compare in head-to-head performance?

A 2021 Chevy Equinox parked on pavement with a cloudy sky in the background
The 2021 Chevy Equinox on display | Chevrolet

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There’s a reason experts generally favor the CR-V while the Equinox plays second fiddle. Honda’s compact SUV does a fantastic job toeing the line between practicality and liveliness. 

A 190-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine lies underneath the hood of all 2021 Honda CR-V models. This powerplant achieves an EPA-estimated 30 MPG city/highway combined fuel-economy rating. That makes the CR-V one of the most efficient models in its segment.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Equinox’s performance isn’t as fuel-efficient or refined. Its standard 170-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine feels a little underpowered compared to the CR-V. However, it doesn’t offer any extra savings on gas in return. According to the EPA, the Equinox maxes out at 28 MPG combined.

The 2021 Honda CR-V also an enormous advantage in cargo space. Plus, its premium trims quickly ramp up the offerings, helping it outshine many of its competitors.

Which compact SUV should budget-conscious shoppers buy?

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It’s clear why the U.S. News & World Report ranked the CR-V as the top model in its class. Provided you don’t settle for the base model, Honda’s popular SUV delivers a pleasant and sophisticated driving experience.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Equinox built its reputation upon providing value. This translated into respect among industry experts. For example, the U.S. News listed it as the fourth-best compact SUV of 2021.

So, your decision should ultimately come down to how much you’re willing to spend. The well-equipped Equinox L is the better choice if your budget resides around the $25,000 mark. Its modern features will help enhance your daily commute, which may be worth sacrificing some performance. However, you may want to consider choosing the 2021 Honda CR-V if you can afford to spend a few thousand dollars extra on a higher trim level.