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VOL. 41 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 13, 2017
Mazda CX-5, Chevy Equinox safe bets for small SUVs
By Will Kaufman | Edmunds
Compact SUVs are some of the most popular vehicles on the road today thanks to their combination of performance, practicality and fuel efficiency. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox and 2017 Mazda CX-5, two of the top entrants in the segment, recently underwent full redesigns to make them even more competitive. But which one is the best match for you? Here’s how they stack up.
Both the Equinox and CX-5 are rock-solid on the freeway, and both feel stable and responsive when the road gets twisty. The CX-5’s smaller turning radius gives it a slight advantage for those who deal with tight city streets.
One thing the Equinox offers that the CX-5 doesn’t is more power. Both vehicles come standard with four-cylinder engines that deliver similar levels of power and acceleration (187 horsepower for the CX-5 and 170 HP for the Equinox). If that’s not quite enough for you, the Chevy offers an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (252 HP) that makes it one of the quickest vehicles in its class.
The EPA estimates for these vehicles are very similar. The Equinox ranges from 24 mpg combined for an all-wheel-drive model equipped with the 2.0-liter engine to 28 mpg for a front-wheel-drive model equipped with the standard engine. The CX-5, meanwhile, comes in at 26 mpg combined for the all-wheel-drive model and 27 mpg for the front-wheel-drive model. But those numbers tell only part of the story.
While both vehicles delivered on their mileage promises in real-world testing, Edmunds found that the front-wheel-drive 2.0-liter-equipped Equinox actually over-delivered on its promised efficiency by a significant margin. Of course, buyers who put mileage above all else will want to look at the Equinox’s 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine, which is rated to deliver up to 39 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
Both SUVs come standard with 7-inch touchscreen infotainment systems. The CX-5 uses a rotary dial near the gearshift as a secondary control to help keep your attention on the road. Chevy’s touchscreen-only system is easy enough to use, but its real advantages are standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus an available upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen.
The Equinox also offers more optional luxuries and conveniences than the CX-5, such as ventilated seats and a 360-degree camera, but you have to upgrade to the top trim level to get them. Parents of teens will appreciate that the Equinox comes standard with Chevy’s Teen Driver system, which acts as a watchdog when younger drivers are behind the wheel.
The CX-5 does offer more access to active safety features and driver aids. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on the CX-5’s midlevel Touring trim. The Equinox’s midlevel LT trim offers those features as options; they come standard if you upgrade to the 2.0-liter engine or opt for the top-tier Premier trim. The CX-5’s top Grand Touring trim comes with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, neither of which is available on the Equinox.
While the cargo volume of both SUVs is almost identical, the Equinox has a few tricks to make life easier. The cargo floor is lower than the CX-5’s, so you won’t have to lift items as high to load them. A power liftgate is available on both vehicles, but the Chevy can be equipped with a hands-free liftgate. The rear seats of both fold flat, using release levers conveniently located in the trunk, but the Equinox has the option of a power-folding second row that can also be raised at the push of a button.
When equipped with the 2.0-liter engine, the Equinox can also tow more than the CX-5. The CX-5’s towing capacity is 2,000 pounds; the Chevy’s upgraded engine can handle 3,500 pounds.
Both start around the same price: $24,985 for the CX-5 and $24,525 for the Equinox. A mid-tier Equinox LT with all-wheel drive and the active safety feature package is slightly more than the CX-5 Touring with all-wheel drive: $28,890 vs. $28,155. Opting for the 2.0-liter engine adds $2,395 to the Equinox’s price. If you want all the goodies mentioned here, the price difference becomes more dramatic. A loaded Equinox can break $40,000, while a loaded CX-5 comes in just under $35,000.
Both the Chevy Equinox and the Mazda CX-5 deliver solid handling and comfortable rides, though the Equinox has an edge when it comes to performance thanks to its optional engine. The Mazda offers more active safety features, while the Chevrolet has a few useful technology options and a more easily accessible cargo area. Rest assured that both vehicles are safe, economical and easy to drive, so no matter what your priorities are you’ll be getting a great SUV.
Will Kaufman is an associate staff writer at Edmunds. Instagram: @didntreadthestyleguide.