The compact SUV market is booming. Two-row SUVs have continued to gain a strong hold in the American car market, and automakers have responded with a number of strong offerings. There are over a dozen different compact SUVs on the market today from just about every big name out there. The good news if you are interested in this segment is that because it is so competitive, every brand is bringing their A game. You can now get quality and performance that was once reserved for luxury brands and top level trims, all at an affordable price. With all of the variety, there is a compact SUV for everyone. Two of the better compact SUVs available are the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Mazda CX-5. Both vehicles have received solid reviews from critics and actual drivers alike. But with both ranking well, it is important to know which one is actually the better buy. To help you decide which one is right for you, here is a look at the 2020 Chevy Equinox vs the 2020 Mazda CX-5.
The 2020 Chevy Equinox comes in an available four trims (four that offer a FWD drivetrain and three of which have an AWD option). The base model is the L, which comes with a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that packs a punch at up to 170 horsepower. The great thing about the standard engine is that it also has fantastic fuel economy and can get 26 miles per gallon in the city and 31 MPG on the highway for a combined rating of 28 MPG. When it comes to towing capacity, the Equinox with the 1.5L engine can haul 1,500 lbs.
The Equinox also comes with an astounding max cargo of 63.9 cubic ft. and the second row of seats, with its 60/40 folding capabilities, is very easy to handle.
What really sets the Equinox apart is that even at the L trim the Chevy Assist suite of advanced safety technologies comes standard. Some of the amazing features include Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, and Front Pedestrian Braking, among others. The truly outstanding thing about the base model Equinox, though, is the price which starts at just $23,800.
The LT is the second Equinox trim and starts at $26,300 and includes a variety of upgrades that are standard or available. These include both an AWD option and a list of extras for the interior.
The LT trim is even more versatile than the L or the LS and has a second engine choice. The 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is capable of generating up to 252 horsepower and can even tow up to 3,500 pounds. The starting price for the LT is $27,500.
The top level trim is the Premier and has the additional engine option in addition to a number of fantastic upgrades and finishes found both on the outside and inside of the Equinox. The starting price for the Premium trim is $31,400 but it can get up to $35,700 if you opt for the bigger engine and AWD.
The Mazda CX-5 has five trims and starts with the Sport. The Sport features a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine that can get up to 187 horsepower. It gets similar gas mileage to the Equinox at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 MPG on the highway for a combined fuel rating of 28 MPG. The Sport starts at $25,190.
The Touring is the second trim and has the same engine as the Sport. One important upgrade it has over the Sport is that it does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The starting price for the Touring is $26,830.
The Grand Touring is the third trim and starts at $30,310. Like the other trims, it has a max cargo area that is slightly less than that of the Equinox at 59.6 cubic ft.
The Grand Touring Reserve is the first trim with a bigger engine, a 2.5T Dynamic Pressure Turbo DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder that can produce up to 227 horsepower (though it can get as high as 250 hp with 93 octane fuel). Naturally, this brings the gas mileage down to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. Surprisingly, even with the extra power, the Grand Touring Reserve doesn’t have a higher towing capacity and can manage 2,000 lbs just like the other trims. The starting price for the Grand Touring Reserve is $35,135.
The fifth and final trim is the Signature, which starts at $37,155 and has the same engine as the Grand Touring Reserve.
Engine and Performance
As you can see from the information about the different trims for the Equinox and the CX-5, when it comes to the engine and performance, they are very similar. The CX-5 has a slightly stronger base engine, but the Equinox has the edge when it comes to overall power, as its 2.0L can get up to 252 hp. Because of that extra power, we give the nod to the Equinox in the category of engine and performance.
Towing is not quite as close as engine and performance for these two compact SUVs. Because the Equinox can tow up to 3,500 lbs, which is 1,500 lbs more than the CX-5, it easily wins in this category. With the Equinox you don’t have to leave your boat or camper at home.
Cargo space is another area where the Equinox clearly comes out on top. While the CX-5 does have a very nice interior, you can’t haul as much, which makes it one-dimensional. The Equinox, on the other hand, is extremely versatile as it can comfortably carry five passengers, or with the easy to fold back seats, can offer up to 63.9 cubic ft. of cargo space, which comes in handy when moving or hauling materials home for projects.
One final category where the Equinox outshines the CX-5 is price. From the base model all the way up to the top level trims, the Equinox is routinely $1,500-$2,000 cheaper than its CX-5 counterpart. When you throw in the fact that the two top level CX-5 trims only reach peak performance on 93 octane fuel, we get a glimpse into the fact that the Equinox is not only more affordable to buy but to maintain and operate as well.
After considering these key areas, it seems pretty clear that the Equinox comes out on top as the better overall compact SUV. It has a higher performing and more powerful top engine, it can tow much more than the CX-5, has more cargo room, and comes at a more affordable price. All of that is nothing to say about the stellar reliability ratings the Equinox has earned from both critics and everyday drivers.
While the CX-5 is a very solid SUV and has some great finishes on the inside, if you are looking for the better buy and a compact SUV that offers great performance at a reasonable price, you have to go with the 2020 Chevy Equinox. It simply outdoes the CX-5 in too many categories to ignore it.