|190||Base Horsepower (HP)||170|
|75.8||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||63.9|
|40 / 352||Fuel Economy (city/highway)||22 / 28|
Few automotive segments are as competitive as the compact crossover. It’s a vehicle type that’s taken the world by storm. Fusing the utility of an SUV with the comforts and affordability of a large sedan set off a chain reaction that has transformed the automotive market in the last decade. Shopping in this segment can be hard thanks to the intense competition between every major and minor manufacturer. But whether you’re shopping new or used, it’s always best to consider two options at a time and carry the winner forward. With that in mind, we present two perennial candidates for the best compact crossover: the 2020 Honda CR-V vs 2020 Chevy Equinox.
With 5 million cars sold in the United States alone, the Honda CR-V is high on the list of top-selling crossovers of the century, and for good reason. Honda has been repeatedly awarded for its commitment to safety and well-rounded performance. And no model exemplifies this better than the 2020 Honda CR-V with its excellent safety scores, affordable pricing, and the most balanced overall package in-segment.
On the other hand, the Chevy Equinox is one of the best-selling models for one of America’s best-selling brands, with nearly 3 million sales (trailing only the Silverado among Chevys). Some of Chevy’s key selling points include easy and engaging handling, a broad and excellent suite of safety packages, and consistently excellent reliability scores. Soft-spoken styling and capable powertrains make the Equinox a viable candidate for many shoppers.
Although folks who need towing capacity won’t find much in this segment to impress them, the Equinox’s available 3,500 lb towing rating stands out. However, being a “good” model, in general, isn’t good enough in this segment, and that’s where the CR-V has the Equinox beat. With a more spacious and upscale interior, phenomenal fuel efficiency that includes an available Hybrid powertrain, and stand-out comfort and performance, the 2020 Honda CR-V might just be the best compact crossover on the market.
The performance metrics of a compact crossover emphasize efficiency and ride comfort over raw power, as most customers with serious hauling needs will be looking at full-size body-on-frame models. In the crossover segment, the powertrain is more about highway responsiveness and easing the burden on your wallet (and the environment). Fortunately, both Honda and Chevy perform well in this regard. While the most powerful engine belongs to Chevy, the CR-V offers two significantly more efficient systems for the same price or less without heavily sacrificing acceleration.
For the 2020 model year, Honda has discontinued its weaker naturally-aspirated 2.4L engine and made the 1.5L turbocharged unit standard on all non-hybrid models. That boosts the base CR-V LX to 190 hp at 5600 rpm and 179 lb-ft of torque at 2000-5000 rpm, while increasing its rated fuel economy to a remarkable 28 MPG city and 34 MPG highway.3 The only gas engine that gets significantly better mileage in the segment belongs to the much smaller and less capable Nissan Kicks.
However, if that isn’t good enough, Honda’s upped their game by introducing a Hybrid powertrain on all trims for 2020 as well. With an affordable price point that starts at just $25,150, the CR-V Hybrid is significantly cheaper than most of its direct competition.1 And when it comes to fuel economy, the CR-V Hybrid achieved a remarkable 40 MPG city and 35 MPG highway in EPA testing.2 For drivers who primarily roam city streets, the extra gas mileage is more than an environmentally friendly gesture – it’s a real money-saver over the life of the vehicle.
Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission, which perfectly optimizes engine speed based on throttle input, enhancing the efficient performance of the CR-V. It shifts smoothly and enables either engine to achieve satisfyingly swift acceleration. The 2020 CR-V won’t win drag races, but it has more than enough power to hold its own on the highway.
The base engine on the 2020 Chevy Equinox is also a turbocharged 1.5L inline-4 that makes 170 hp at 5600 rpm and 203 lb-ft of torque at 2000-4000 rpm. Mounted with a 6-speed automatic transmission, it’s generally unimpressive. Not only is it less powerful and not as smooth as the CR-V, but its fuel efficiency of 26 MPG city and 31 MPG highway is also significantly worse than that of even the base model CR-V.
The Equinox only comes alive if you opt for the more expensive 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. Not only does this engine itself cost more, but it is only available on the LT trim and above. Finally, this engine has a poor fuel economy of just 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway, and premium fuel is recommended, making it substantially more expensive to operate than the CR-V. However, in exchange for this added expense, you will get a 9-speed automatic transmission as well as 252 hp at 5500 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 2500-4500 rpm.
For compact crossover owners, it really is what’s on the inside that counts. Few models offer dashing good looks or impressive towing and off-roading SUV performance. What makes these vehicles great is that they’re easy to operate and pleasant to ride in, while providing ample space for passengers and their things. The 2020 Chevy Equinox provides sufficient space for most uses, but the 2020 Honda CR-V has even more room and more upscale materials to increase a sense of luxury within an economical budget.
Neither of these models will pamper you as an Acura or Cadillac might, but when a low-budget car can offer materials to make it look sophisticated, it becomes a car that you want to see yourself in. Unfortunately, the Equinox makes extensive use of cheap-looking plastics, and similarly-priced rivals have significantly nicer interiors. One of those similarly-priced rivals is the 2020 Honda CR-V, which integrates faux wood accents for a refined interior atmosphere. Sleek styling in the Honda and a plethora of plastics in the Chevy make the CR-V interior a much nicer place to be.
The 2020 Chevy Equinox provides ample cargo volume – 22.9 cu.ft. behind the 2nd-row seats is plenty for vacation luggage or a few sets of golf clubs. But the 2020 Honda CR-V offers a far more spacious “trunk” with an incredible 39.2 cu.ft. of cargo space, which is over 70% more room than in the Equinox. Both models gain about 40 cu.ft. by folding the 2nd-row seats, with the Honda still providing a significantly more spacious 75.8 cu.ft. vs the 63.9 cu.ft. found in the Chevy.
Passenger space is similarly abundant in both models. Although the CR-V does win a narrow victory here as well, the difference is in fractions of an inch. Comfortable seats, over 40” of rear-seat legroom, and 39” of rear-seat headroom make the CR-V and Equinox suitable for seating at least four adults on extended journeys. One stand-out difference is that the Equinox’s optional panoramic sunroof seriously eats into the available headroom, something that the CR-V’s moon-roof doesn’t do.
The 2020 Honda CR-V and 2020 Chevy Equinox are leaders in their segment when it comes to safety. They have both received high ratings from various organizations, and they both offer comprehensive suites of active safety technologies and driver assistance features standard.
Honda calls its safety suite Honda Sensing, and it’s standard on all trims of the 2020 CR-V. It includes Forward Collision Warning with Collision Mitigating Braking System, Lane Departure Warning with Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Auto High Beams. All but the base trim further includes Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Monitor.
Chevy’s suite is called Chevy Safety Assist and is also standard on all 2020 Equinox models. This bundle of advanced technologies includes Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, a Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam headlights, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning. Chevy’s Teen Driver system and a rear-seat reminder are standard as well, while features such as adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring are optional.
If that’s a lot of techno-babble, let’s break it down a little. Both models include standard:
However, the Honda CR-V goes a bit further also comes standard with:
Both models are also available with the following, although the CR-V gives you these features standard on all but the base trim while the Equinox only offers some of them as packages or on the top trims:
While both models offer the same options, these valuable safety features are more available on the Honda CR-V, and unlike the Equinox, you will never need to pay for extra options to protect yourself on the road. This tilts the balance firmly towards the CR-V.