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Considering the L is special order only, and the LS doesn’t add much for a substantial price bump, we think it’s worth skipping straight to the LT model. Its list of added features isn’t extensive, but you do get upgraded headlights for better nighttime visibility, along with satellite radio and tinted glass. The LT also opens the doors to several worthy option packages. The Confidence and Convenience package stands out, with additional luxury features and blind-spot monitoring.

Fortune doesn’t necessarily favor the bold in the compact crossover segment — the Honda CR-V, the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4 are perennial best-sellers thanks in part to their all-around competencies and history of reliability. Still, automakers strive to make their small SUVs distinct. The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox stands out by bringing high-end luxury features and a couple of distinctive engines to this typically price-conscious class.

Redesigned just last year, the Equinox is one of the newer entries in this segment. As such, all the latest safety features are available, from a surround-view parking camera to forward collision warning system that can identify pedestrians. Unlike some competitors, most of these features can only be ordered on the top trim level, but at least you can get them. Also available are a panoramic sunroof, a surround-view parking camera and ventilated front seats — rare options in this class.

We also like that the Equinox offers two alternative powertrains if you aren’t satisfied with the base turbocharged 1.5-liter engine. At one end of the spectrum is a fuel-efficient diesel that achieves 32 mpg in combined driving (the standard engine earns 28 mpg); at the other, a turbocharged 2.0-liter with an additional 80 horsepower. Be careful, however: Once you start checking the options boxes, the Equinox can be substantially more expensive than rival crossovers. An engine stop-start system that cannot be disabled and disappointing materials quality also might give prospective buyers pause.

2019 Chevrolet Equinox configurations

The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox is a five-passenger compact crossover that costs a bit more than most rivals. It’s sold in four trims: LLSLT and Premier. The base L model seems like a great deal until you realize that it’s a custom-order model and you’ll have to wait for it to be built. You’ll find the LS at practically any dealer, but it’s more expensive and doesn’t add much. Best to skip straight to the LT, which is just a bit more expensive and includes more features and access to additional options. If you want the LT and its two packages, the leather-trimmed Premier includes it all.

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Three engines are offered on the Equinox. The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder (170 horsepower, 203 pound-feet of torque) matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (252 hp, 260 lb-ft) is optional and comes standard with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Also optional is a fuel-efficient 1.6-liter diesel (137 hp, 240 lb-ft) mated to a six-speed automatic. Both of these engines can be ordered on LT and Premier trim levels.

The front-drive-only base is well-equipped, and it comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, a fuel-saving engine stop-start system, a rearview camera, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, a driver information display, height-adjustable front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Chevrolet’s Teen Driver watchdog modes, Bluetooth, OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB ports up front, and two charge-only USB ports in the rear.

It’s a built-to-order trim, however, so you’re most likely going to see the next-level LS on dealer lots. It’s pricier and doesn’t add much besides rear floor mats, a spare tire and a tire jack. It does open the door to an expanded range of exterior colors and availability of all-wheel drive, however, so it’s worth considering if you want the least expensive AWD model. The new LS Convenience package adds a power driver’s seat and rear privacy glass.

Stepping up to the LT adds xenon headlights, an upgraded information display, auxiliary rear-seat release levers, satellite radio, and the contents of the LS Convenience package. Select either of the optional engines and you’ll also add a sunroof and roof rails, while the 2.0-liter motor exclusively adds 18-inch wheels.

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The LT offers three notable feature packages. The Lights and Brights package pads on 19-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, and LED headlights and taillights. The Infotainment package adds a 120-volt household-style power outlet, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and two USB ports in the armrest bin. The related Sun and Navigation package includes the contents of the Infotainment package plus a sunroof.

For increased safety, get the Confidence and Convenience package, which includes rear parking sensors, a power liftgate (except on the diesel), remote engine start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.

Finally, the range-topping Premier includes the above packages (minus the navigation system and panoramic sunroof) along with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, foglights, auto-dimming mirrors, roof rails, a hands-free liftgate, chrome exterior trim, ambient interior lighting, driver-seat memory settings, perforated leather upholstery and wireless device charging. Nineteen-inch wheels are added with the selection of the 2.0-liter engine.

Even the top-trim Premier leaves some goodies on the table. The feature-heavy Confidence and Convenience II package adds automatic high-beam control, a 360-degree parking camera system, a heated steering wheel, a power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, a meter that measures the distance (in time) between you and the car in front, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking. The Sun, Sound and Navigation package builds on top of this package with 19-inch wheels, the panoramic sunroof, navigation, and a seven-speaker Bose audio system with HD radio.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Chevrolet Equinox Premier (turbo 2.0-liter inline-4 | 9-speed automatic | FWD).

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NOTE: Since this test was conducted in 2018, the current Equinox has received some revisions, including a revised infotainment system for 2019. Our findings remain applicable to this year’s Equinox, however.

Driving

8.0

The upgrade from the base 1.5-liter engine to the 2.0-liter is well-justified with the amount of power and efficiency it delivers. On top of that, the Equinox has impressive handling on a twisty road. The only downside is the big turning radius that affects U-turns and parking.

Acceleration

9.0

This engine is one of the best in the class. Acceleration is smooth and very manageable in everyday driving, but the front-wheel-drive model can generate torque steer when you floor it. Ours needed only 6.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, quicker than rivals. The diesel took a more leisurely 9.8 seconds.

Braking

8.0

The brakes feel nice and dependable. The pedal effort is appropriate for this kind of vehicle, and response is neither grabby nor lazy. It just feels right. Our Equinox executed a panic stop from 60 mph in 115 feet, a solid result in the compact SUV class.

Steering

8.0

Steering effort is what we expect from a small crossover, with low effort at parking speeds and more weighting at highway speeds. The vehicle tracks straight on most surfaces, and ample on-center feel makes for a relaxing drive. But we noticed some squirm on roads with longitudinal rain grooves.

Handling

9.0

The Equinox is surprisingly capable and balanced on a challenging twisty road. The handling limits are surprisingly high and approachable in these conditions, and it’s just about as fun to drive as the class-leading Mazda CX-5.

Drivability

6.0

We’re deducting points for an unusually large turning circle. Multipoint turns are a common occurrence with this car on streets where rivals can make a simple U-turn. We noticed this characteristic when nosing into crowded parking lots, too.

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