The Chevy Equinox is a road legend. But even the best vehicles face recalls. We review each generation of compact SUVs to determine which years to avoid (and which are the best alternatives).
The Chevy Equinox debuted for the 2005 model year, looking to replace the legendary Blazer and Tracker SUVs. However, it was also entering one of the most competitive classes, the saturated class of compact crossover SUVs.
The Equinox had to fight for first place in its class against its American compatriot, the Ford Escape, which had already built a solid reputation in the four years since its launch.
However, it was the Japanese-made Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V that bore the brunt of the fight. And they fought, the Equinox falling behind them for third place as car and driverIt is the best-selling CUV of 2020.
The Equinox has always ranked well on sites like JD Power and Kelley Blue Book, receiving praise year after year for its second-row legroom and variety of standard safety features.
Additionally, it has not fallen below a four-star customer satisfaction rating among thousands of Vehicle history reviews between 2005 and 2020.
Although popular, some model years are more problematic than others, with some having up to five reminders while others boast no such thing.
However, just because one year has more withdrawals than another doesn’t mean it should be avoided; No, there is more than that.
Here, we’ll review recalls, complaints, crash tests, and consumer reviews to determine which years to avoid.
First generation Equinox (2005-2009)
When the Equinox arrived in showrooms for the 2005 model year, it was a notable novelty. All previous Chevy SUVs were built body-on-frame. For body-on-frame construction, we can consider the body and frame as two separate entities.
The Equinox, however, was built as a single body, meaning the frame and body were one.
GM cars and even other SUVs had unibody construction before the Equinox; however, it was the first Chevy SUV with unibody construction. Additionally, it differentiates itself from the Blazer by offering front- or all-wheel drive, as opposed to the rear-drive Blazer.
It was initially powered by a 185-hp 3.4-liter V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine achieved a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. and a combined mpg of 19 for FWD and AWD versions.
For those who exclusively buy “American” vehicles, the first-generation Equinox wasn’t a great option. The engine was made in China, the transmission was in Japan, and it was assembled in Canada.
However, the Sport models offered for the 2008-2009 model years deliver 264 hp from an American-made 3.6L V6 engine mated to an American-made six-speed automatic transmission.
First generation. Equinox: years to avoid and better alternatives
- years to avoid: (2005-2007)
- good years: (2008)
- best years: (2009)
Although the Equinox was very popular, it had some reliability problems. For starters, it averaged more than 550 complaints per model year, according to the NHTSA.
A common problem with all Equinoxes equipped with the 3.4L V6 is the failure of the lower intake gaskets. Chevy didn’t realize that their new DexCool super coolant was eating into the intake manifold gasket. This is a fairly common problem that can be diagnosed by engine overheating, which costs around $700 to repair.
Other problems included faulty ignition for 2005-2008 Equinoxes and fuel pump failure for 2007. Although the fuel pump was recalled, the ignition problem was not. Note that the 2009 model year is the most reliable of the group with only 91 complaints.
On the safety side, from 2005 to 2006 Equinoxes received numerous complaints about radiator failure. Not only does this leave occupants cold, but the windshield cannot be defrosted, posing a safety issue.
Other safety issues include a faulty passenger airbag sensor. This appears to be an isolated issue as it only affected the 2007 model year. Chevy has recalled and corrected this issue.
In addition to these safety issues, it hasn’t fared too well in the IIHS crash test. It received a marginal rating for the Headrests and Outboard Seating categories.
Although the rear passengers did well, the front passengers did not. Standard curtain airbags were added in 2009, further distinguishing the year’s model as the top choice.
Although the Equinox is quite reliable if you are looking for a family car, the first generation. Equinox cannot be considered due to its lack of security.
Second generation equinox (2010-2017)
When the second-generation Equinox landed in showrooms for the 2010 model year, it made some key improvements over the original. The new Equinox was more car-like than the previous generation.
Chevy replaced the old 3.5L V6 engine with a new 2.4L I4.
Obviously, this led to huge gains in fuel economy—the new standard Equinox got seven mpg more than the old one, for a combined mpg of 26.
However, there were still many similarities, such as standard FWD and optional AWD. Chevy also changed the engine as an option, bringing in a new 3.0 L V6 to replace the old 3.6 L V6. Finally, Chevy made a six-speed automatic transmission standard.
When Chevy launched Equinox in 2010, they didn’t just “set it and forget it,” they constantly tweaked it to make it better. The first change came in 2011 when Chevy made the 3.0L V6 E85 compatible. The 2.4L I4 will follow suit soon after in 2012 when they also make it E85 compatible.
Ironically, in 2013, the 3.0 L V6 was replaced by a new 3.6 L V6. Then in 2016, a year before the second generation. Retired, Chevy gave it a massive update. The update brought a much-needed redesign, as well as the introduction of a standard rearview camera for all Equinoxes.
Second generation. Equinox: years to avoid and better alternatives
- years to avoid: (2010-2012 and 2013-2017 with 2.4L I4 engine)
- best years: (2013-2017 with 3.6L V6 engine)
Winning favor with those looking for a family hauler, the second-generation Equinox was extremely safe.
For MY 2010-2016, it received IIHS Top Safety Picks and even received a Top Safety Pick+ for 2014.
Unfortunately, the 2017 model year did not receive any of the awards. This is not because the 2017 model is unsafe, but because the IIHS has begun testing the usability of LATCH.
LATCH is the child restraint system found in cars. So in conclusion, all Equinoxes are very safe, but their LATCH system is not as intuitive as competitors.
Unfortunately, Equinox’s safety could be all for the no. It must be said, the 2.4L I4 engine should be avoided at all costs. It doesn’t matter if it is the original non-E85 LAF (2010-2011) or the LEA-compatible E85 (2012-2017). This engine accounted for almost all of the complaints at the NHTSA.
The problem was that it consumed too much oil, causing a lack of lubrication. Of course, this could lead to a blown engine, which is an expensive fix.
However, V6 engines did not have this problem. The 3.0L V6 (2010-2012) suffered from timing chain failures, but the 3.6L V6 (2013-2017) did not. Another very common problem, which affected all model years and prompted an NHTSA investigation, is windshield wiper failure.
Third generation Equinox (2018-present)
The third-generation Equinox hit showrooms with a bang. Chevy wasted no time redesigning the Equinox, and his efforts did not go unnoticed because it was their second bestseller next to the silver one.
The new Equinox was smaller than the previous one and lighter and lost 400 pounds. and shrinking 4.7 inches. The new Equinox came with several major tech updates, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Additionally, safety features have been added, including a wide-angle rearview camera, forward collision warning and low-speed automatic braking. Chevrolet plans to continue updating the Equinox for the 2022 model year with a redesign.
As with Equinoxes of the past, the third generation also offered drivers the choice of FWD or AWD.
However, for the first time in Equinox history, Chevy would offer three different engines, all four-cylinder.
A 1.5-liter I4 Turbo became the standard engine, while a 1.6-liter I4 turbodiesel and a 2.0-liter I4 Turbo were optional. The respective combined mpg for the three engines is 28, 25, and 32.
The premium 2.0T received a nine-speed automatic transmission, while the other two received a six-speed automatic. In 2020, the turbodiesel option was dropped due to a lack of demand and practicality.
Likewise, the 2.0T would be discontinued for the 2021 model year, leaving the 1.5T as the only survivor.
Third generation. Equinox: years to avoid and better alternatives
- best years: (2018-present)
The third generation has proven to be exceptionally safe, according to IIHS crash tests. Although it only received IIHS Top Safety Picks for the 2020-2021 model years, the 2018-2019 models were also safe.
In fact, the only thing keeping them from earning a Top Safety Pick were their headlights and LATCH system (again). Ironically, the best headlights offered on the Equinox come from the mid-level LT trim, not the top-of-the-line Premier trim.
Plus, the current generation averages fewer than 100 complaints per model year, according to the NHTSA. The new Equinox proves to be a reliable choice.
Chevy Equinox Model Years to Avoid
The Chevrolet Equinox is definitely a car to consider if you’re looking for an affordable SUV with options and good mpg. At a used price of around $20,000, it’s certainly affordable.
If you want something with good technology, room for kids and groceries, and decent performance, this car won’t disappoint.
Plus, with the redesign coming out in about a year, it’s definitely worth the wait. This is if you like new looks, driver aids, and RS trim for your inner racer.
While there are several excellent options, such as the 2009 and 2013-2017 models with the 3.6L V6 engine, or the 2018–present model years, the others are best left alone.
Specifically, 2010–2017 models with the 2.4L I4 engine should be avoided at all costs due to excessive engine oil consumption, this can result in a hefty engine replacement repair bill.
2010-2012 models with the 3.0L V6 engine could end up in the repair shop just as quickly with their faulty timing chains that can potentially stretch and break.
As with the 2005-2007 model years, these should be avoided primarily due to heating issues, where neither the interior nor the windshield defogger gets hot. While there is no such thing as a vehicle that won’t break down, if you’re shopping for a Chevy Equinox, avoid older years or hold on to your hat.
Photos: Chevrolet, Wikicommons