By on February 6, 2020

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Maybe Corey’s grandmother should have waited. As the Chicago Auto Show kicks off in the Windy City, General Motors unveiled a mid-cycle refresh of one of the most popular compact crossovers on the market.

For 2021, Chevrolet’s Equinox cosies up a little closer to its big brother, the Blazer, adopting a meaner-looking face and offering, for the first time, a sport-oriented RS variant. A CUV that’s lacked attitude since its inception now wears a snarl.

There’s only so much an automaker can do to differentiate a refreshed model from its predecessor, so the entirety of the exterior changes take place fore and aft. The Blazer-esque grille pairs with a redesigned lower fascia and rejigged rear. Back there, the taillights mercifully take on a new design (or adopt one at all), appearing like a set of LED barbecue tongs that became warped after grabbing a too-big slab of meat.

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The front end’s the bigger story, with designers opting to spear the leadlamp array with the grille’s crossbar. LED light strip above the border, driving lights below. A grille that doesn’t plunge quite as deep in the center and a wider lower air opening erases much of the visual derpiness that once plagued this model’s visage.

Powertrains are a carryover. With the Great Diesel Experiment now over, the only choice of motivation is the usual 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinders, mated to either a six- or nine-speed automatic. Front- or all-wheel drive, take your pick. Trim levels, like before, include base L, LS, LT, and a range-topping Premier (now with more interior tinsel, a black-and-chrome grille treatment, and LED lamps), but 2021 brings an RS version into the fold.

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As you’d expect, especially after perusing the Blazer version, this option is a feast for the eyes, not the soul. Sporting blacked-out everything, the RS dons 19-inch wheels and a boatload of red stitching stitching to lend a touch of visual menace, setting your ride apart from the other Equinoxes waiting outside your kid’s school at 4 p.m. Power doesn’t change, but stay clear of those quad tips just in case.

Standard on all Equinoxes for 2021 are automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, and a following distance indicator. Of course, there’s a rear-vision camera, too. Niceties like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert will require an outlay of additional dollars, depending on trim.

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The Equinox remains an enormously important product for GM, one whose popularity seems to know no ceiling. Some 346,048 Equinoxes rolled out of dealerships last year — a significant jump from 2018, making the model nearly three times as popular as the entire Jaguar Land Rover lineup. Put another way, the Equinox moved more than double the volume of the Chrysler, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo brands. It came close to outselling the combined might of Cadillac and Buick.

The 2021 Equinox lands in dealerships this fall. Updated pricing will roll out sometime before then.

[Images: General Motors]

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18 Comments on “2021 Chevrolet Equinox: Taking After Big Brother...”


  • avatar
    jh26036

    The Voltec powertrain should have been installed in this thing years ago except GM decided to give diesel a try. Nice job.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Just 26036

      We call these things utilities. People buy them for their utility. Voltech took up a good amount of space, would have reduced Utility
      It would have been a bigger flop than the Supra.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think it would have been, except that GM has decided it will not do any more hybrids (hence the discontinuation of the Malibu Hybrid, Volt, CT6 PHEV, etc) and will jump headfirst into full EVs.

      But I think the RAV4 Prime and Escape Energi will show that the PHEV concept, in particular, still has some life in it.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      GM recently created Voltec, the 1.6 diesel in the Cruze and Equinox, the Backwing V8 and the costly to design and engineer CT6. And in one model year threw it all in the garbage can. But then this is nothing new as GM has been in a habit of throwing massive amounts of cash on the next big thing only to abandon it and throw millions in the toilet. The next big thing- “our all electric future is here now”

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And the Equinox still increased more in sales than CR-V did in 2019.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I do not like this generation of Equinox. It looks like a 1998 Lexus RX, twenty years too late.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    Derpiness! That is epic! The best I could come up with was “dour”

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So is the RS available with both engines?

    Should be 2.0T AWD only.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I had the chance to drive an LT (uplevel version with the 2.0 turbo) as a rental.

    It was not my first choice–but they didn’t have the car I wanted so I got this.

    I actually liked it! I think that when you get the turbo 2.0 on GM’s mass cars (Malibu, Equinox, the old Regal), the steering is firmer and feels much better. Combined with the bigger tires for grip, and the uplevel interiors that are bundled with the engine, and these cars always drive nicely–better than I expected.

    I thought the old Equinox was pleasant–competent, not annoying, but not exciting.

    Not sure if I would prefer the 1.5 turbo to the old 2.4 4-cylinder. If my Malibu rental experiences are any indicator, probably not. The 2.0 Turbo was very good, and next up, I prefer the old 2.4 normally aspirated Malibu drivetrain to the 1.5 turbo (of course, if I had to pay for fuel, I might look at it differently–my last Malibu rental computer showed over 30mpg, for the same type driving that got mid-20s in a 2.4 rental Malibu).

    If GM was willing to give up some profit margin in the short run, and sell the uplevel cars for less, GM’s reputation would be helped in the long term.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Last week I rented a base 1.5 fwd Equinox from Hertz on a trip to visit family. I wanted to give a Jeep product Renegade or Compass a go but they were not available. It was ok and quite functional but the higher trim model with the 2.0 is probably a much better everyday ride.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I had two Equinox for company cars in the late 00’s and I believe an 11′; I consider then first generation Equinox as the first version that shared a platform with the Pontiac to be a disaster.

    I liked both of them, each had the 4 mil and AWD. Both got 27 mpg and were not as slow as people here seem to indicate they were. When compared to a CR-V which in my mind is their competition it was a fine car.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      I had a 12 Equinox.
      Base 4 banger.
      HIgh – bad NVH.
      A little on the stiff side – suspension wise.

      2WD – Over 50,000 miles. I logged every tank. Miles driven? gallon in. (TRIP COMPUTERS LIE BAD !!!). I average 26.2MPG.
      medium light foot. 65% express way driving.

      I live in real ville. Not a good CUV. Package was good. The rest not so good.

  • avatar

    Why is GM bringing back the Aztec styling trend of making the top headlights so thin.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I’m leasing a 2020 LT, 1.5 T, after 3 months I’m getting use to the start/stop technology ( which can be by passed) and liking all the other safety add-ons, it runs and drives great with no issues, I blacked out both the front/rear Chevy bow ties along with the wheel cover bow ties and added a black hood bug deflector, my next step is going to add a black grill with fake RS badging if I can order them, why you may ask, because I don’t like being like “the other Equinoxes waiting outside your kid’s school at 4 p.m.” ;-)

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