The Chevy Equinox is a capable mainstream compact SUV with the base LS trim offering a wealth of popular features, generous interior space, and surprisingly playful driving dynamics. However, compared to more spirited rivals like the Mazda CX-50, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, and Ford Bronco Sport, it may come off as somewhat uninspiring. However, some model years perform better than others.
Beware of oil leaks, engine issues, and faulty piston rings in specific models, particularly those from 2005-2007 and second-generation Equinoxes with the 2.4L I4 engine. In contrast, the third-generation Equinox boasts safety and reliability, making it a compelling choice for buyers seeking a dependable option.
Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid – A Comprehensive Guide
Before we discuss which Chevy Equinox years to avoid, it is prudent to know more about this compact SUV from the American automaker.
About Chevy Equinox
In 2005, the Chevy Equinox introduced a significant departure from Chevy’s body-on-frame SUV tradition, adopting a unibody construction. This made it the first Chevy SUV with this design, differentiating itself from the rear-wheel-drive Blazer with front- or all-wheel-drive options. The initial model featured a 185 hp, 3.4L V6 engine with a 3,500 lbs. towing capacity and 19 mpg combined for FWD and AWD versions. Despite some components being sourced globally, the 2008-2009 Sport models boasted a 264 hp American-made V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
Let’s delve into Equinox’s various generations to identify favorable and unfavorable model years.
1st-generation Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid & Better Alternatives
- Years to Let Alone: (2005-2007)
- Decent Years: (2008)
- Best Years: (2009)
Despite its popularity, the Equinox faced reliability challenges. It averaged over 550 complaints annually per model year, according to NHTSA data. Notably, Equinoxes with the 3.4L V6 engine experienced lower intake gasket failures due to DexCool super-coolant corrosion, leading to engine overheating and a $700 repair cost. The 2005-2008 Equinoxes had ignition issues, while the 2007 model suffered from fuel pump failures, with only the latter being recalled.
Safety concerns included heating problems in the 2005-2006 models, compromising defrosting capabilities and safety. A faulty passenger airbag sensor affected the 2007 model, which was addressed through a recall. In IIHS crash tests, Equinox scored marginally in the side and head restraints & seat categories.
For improved safety, the 2009 model added standard curtain airbags. Although fairly reliable, the first-gen Equinox isn’t a top choice for family vehicles due to its safety limitations.
2nd-generation Equinox (2010-2017)
In 2010, the second-gen Equinox debuted, boasting improvements over its predecessor, offering a more “car-like” experience. Chevrolet swapped the old 3.5L V6 for a 2.4L I4 engine, yielding a substantial 7 mpg increase to achieve a combined 26 mpg. Similarities remained, like standard FWD and optional AWD, while the optional engine shifted to a 3.0L V6. A six-speed automatic became standard. Chevy continually enhanced the Equinox, making the 3.0L V6 E85 compatible in 2011, and the 2.4L I4 followed in 2012. Ironically, 2013 saw the 3.0L V6 replaced by a 3.6L V6. In 2016, Chevy refreshed the second-gen Equinox, introducing restyling and standard backup cameras.
2nd-generation Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid & Better Alternatives
- Years to Let Alone: (2010-2012 & 2013-2017 w/2.4L I4 engine)
- Best Years: (2013-2017 w/3.6L V6 engine)
Elevated fuel consumption, absence of contemporary amenities, and problematic safety components elevate the 2010-2017 models to the forefront of undesirable options. In particular, those equipped with a 2.4L engine exhibit lackluster fuel economy compared to their peers and entail substantial engine replacement expenses. This period marked a rather unremarkable phase for Equinox, and the initial two years within this span, featuring a V6 engine gained notoriety for their frequent visits to the repair shop due to faulty mechanical parts.
Though not posing a significant safety issue for young passengers in the rear seats, the 2017 model faced criticism for its subpar LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system design. Subsequent models have made enhancements to this mechanism, rendering it more user-friendly.
A problem encountered by cars of this era related to excessive oil usage across various models. Both E85 and non-E85 engines displayed oil consumption issues, leading to lubrication shortages. Specifically, the 2.4L engine received numerous complaints, making it advisable to steer clear of this Equinox generation. The most dire consequence is an engine failure, which requires a costly repair. Though not a primary worry for all, the NHTSA conducted an investigation into wiper failures spanning all model years from this time frame; thus, it’s prudent to avoid this particular Equinox model.
If you find yourself in need of an Equinox from the 2010-17 generation, ensure it possesses a V6 engine to mitigate these concerns. There were instances of timing chain issues reported in V6 engines produced between 2010 and 2012, although models manufactured from 2013 to 2017 did not exhibit this problem.
The third generation of the Chevy Equinox commenced with the 2017 models, yet both critics and customers have shown a preference for the 2018 models. For the most part, the third generation of Equinox (2018 onwards) has demonstrated remarkable reliability when it comes to persistent maintenance issues. When in search of a used Chevy SUV, consider 2018 models if you desire a more recent option. Keep in mind that these vehicles offer a range of trim levels, so factor that into your decision-making process.
Third-generation Equinox (2018-Present)
The third-generation Equinox made a powerful entrance into showrooms. Chevy’s thorough redesign made it their second best-seller, just behind the Silverado. The new Equinox became smaller and lighter, shedding 400 pounds and shrinking by 4.7 inches. It featured impressive technology upgrades, like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, alongside added safety features such as a wide-angle backup camera, forward collision warning, and low-speed automatic braking. Chevy’s plans for the 2022 model year include a redesign. The third generation maintained the FWD and AWD options but introduced three four-cylinder engine choices. In 2020, the turbodiesel was discontinued, and in 2021, the 2.0T followed suit, leaving the 1.5T as the sole option.
Third-Generation Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid
The third-gen Chevy Equinox models since 2018 have held up well without major issues. Some drivers mention occasional concerns related to oil pressure and turbo performance, but these appear to be isolated cases.
In terms of safety, the third-gen models shine in IIHS crash tests. The IIHS granted the 2020-2021 models the Top Safety Pick accolade, rendering them appealing to families and daily commuters.
On the flip side, the 2018-2019 models missed out on this accolade due to headlight and LATCH system issues. The latest Chevy Equinox SUVs receive fewer than 100 complaints annually per model, instilling confidence in most prospective buyers.
Typical Issues Found in Chevrolet Equinox Models
The Chevy Equinox generally enjoys above-average reliability, although dependability can vary among different models. Here are some common issues encountered across various Equinox models:
- Excessive oil consumption: Equinox models from 2010 to 2013 have suffered from excessive oil consumption, leading to symptoms like check engine lights and noticeable shakes.
- Defective A/C compressor: Owners of the 2011 Equinox have reported problems with their A/C system, including issues with cold air not blowing and freon leakage, often traced back to a faulty A/C compressor.
- Battery issues: Battery problems are prevalent in various Equinox models, resulting in electrical issues like erratic Bluetooth audio and malfunctioning USB ports. These problems are often attributed to the battery, which can be costly to replace.
- Rattling from the front lower control arm: Some Equinox models, particularly the 2005 version, may experience rattling issues with the front lower control arm, particularly noticeable when driving over bumps.
- Check engine light: Equinox models with 6-speed transmissions can exhibit an illuminating check engine light with various error codes, often caused by a broken 35R clutch wave plate within the transmission system. This leads to issues like loss of reverse gear and slipping.
- Defective Takata airbags: Both the first and second generations of the Equinox were affected by the infamous Takata airbags, which have been the subject of a massive automotive recall due to the risk of inflator rupture and metal fragment ejection during deployment.
- Delayed acceleration: First-generation Equinox owners have raised concerns about delayed acceleration and throttle lag, typically attributed to an electrical delay within the drive-by-wire throttle system, resulting in a noticeable delay between pressing the gas pedal and the vehicle’s response, which can be hazardous in traffic situations.
Overall, the Chevrolet Equinox delivers a smooth ride, impressive fuel economy, and a robust engine. Regrettably, not all model years are on par, with a few Chevy Equinox years to avoid. It’s advisable to steer clear of Equinox models produced between 2005 and 2007 due to documented mechanical issues and safety concerns. Additionally, exercise caution when considering second-generation variants featuring the 2.4L I4 engine, which is known for excessive oil consumption and subpar performance. On a positive note, as of the present moment, the third-generation Chevrolet Equinox models, starting from 2018 and onward, excel in safety and efficiency, demonstrating resilience against significant issues.
Chevy Equinox Years to Avoid – FAQs
Are there any Chevy Equinox years to avoid in the third generation?
The third-gen Equinox excels in safety, securing IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2020-2021 and maintaining safety for 2018-2019, with only headlights and LATCH system hindering the rating. Surprisingly, the LT trim boasts the best headlights. Furthermore, with fewer than 100 annual NHTSA complaints, the current Equinox proves reliable.
Which Chevy Equinox model years to avoid?
If you’re seeking an affordable SUV with good options and fuel efficiency, the Chevrolet Equinox is worth considering at around $20,000 used. It offers ample technology, family-friendly space, and decent performance. Opt for models like the 2009 and 2013-2017 with the 3.6L V6 or the 2018-present. However, steer clear of the 2010-2017 models with the 2.4L I4 due to excessive oil consumption, which can lead to costly engine replacements. The 2010-2012 models with the 3.0L V6 may suffer from faulty timing chains, and the 2005-2007 Equinoxes have heater problems. Avoid these years or brace for issues.
Are there many concerns with Chevy Equinox vehicles?
The Chevy Equinox has a few recurring issues. The most frequent problem is A/C compressor failure, which can disrupt your car’s cooling system. Regular checks during oil changes are advisable to prevent excessive wear. Another common issue is a transmission fault involving the 6-speed automatic transmission’s 35R clutch plate. This can cause harsh shifting into specific gears, necessitating transmission removal for component replacement. Despite these problems, Equinox is generally seen as a reliable option for city travel.
Is Equinox worth buying?
The response to this inquiry varies according to the model year and the engine in question. Avoid the 2.4L powerplant under all circumstances, regardless of the model year. Similarly, it’s advisable to stay away from the 2010 to 2012 model years due to transmission issues.
Are Chevy Equinoxes normally dependable?
The Chevrolet Equinox’s reliability can be a bit unpredictable. Certain model years prove trustworthy for families, while others might cause inconvenience. Picking the ideal Equinox model years is crucial.