2019 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2018 Kia Niro

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the Chevrolet Equinox’s rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Kia Niro doesn’t offer comfort guides on its rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Equinox are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Niro doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Equinox offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Equinox Premier offers an optional Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Niro only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Equinox has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Niro doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Equinox and the Niro have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Equinox the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 149 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Niro has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Equinox’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Niro’s (6/100,000 vs. 5/100,000).

Chevrolet pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Equinox. Chevrolet will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Niro.

There are almost 4 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Equinox’s warranty.

Engine

The Equinox’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 31 more horsepower (170 vs. 139) and 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The Equinox’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 113 more horsepower (252 vs. 139) and 65 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

The Equinox’s 1.6 turbo diesel produces 45 lbs.-ft. more torque (240 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the Chevrolet Equinox is faster than the Kia Niro:

 

Equinox 1.5

Equinox 2.0

Niro

Zero to 60 MPH

9.2 sec

6.6 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.9 sec

15.2 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

81.2 MPH

92.1 MPH

80.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Equinox FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (14.9 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Equinox AWD/Diesel’s standard fuel tank has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (15.6 vs. 11.9 gallons).

The Equinox has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Niro doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Equinox 2.0 turbo 4 cyl., for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Niro.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Equinox’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Niro:

 

Equinox 1.5T/Diesel

Equinox 2.0T

Niro

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

10.3 inches

The Equinox stops much shorter than the Niro:

 

Equinox

Niro

 

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

138 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

152 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Equinox has larger standard tires than the Niro (225/65R17 vs. 205/50R16). The Equinox Premier’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Niro (235/50R19 vs. 225/45R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Equinox has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Niro FE/LX/EX. The Equinox Premier’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Niro Touring.

The Equinox has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Niro doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Equinox Premier handles at .83 G’s, while the Niro EX pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Equinox Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure-Eight” maneuver quicker than the Niro EX (27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Chassis

The front grille of the Equinox uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Niro doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Equinox uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Niro doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Equinox has 2.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Niro (103.2 vs. 101).

The Equinox has .5 inches more front hip room, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, 2.3 inches more rear legroom, 3.4 inches more rear hip room and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Niro.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Equinox’s rear seats recline. The Niro’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Equinox has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Niro with its rear seat up (29.9 vs. 19.4 cubic feet). The Equinox has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Niro with its rear seat folded (63.5 vs. 54.5 cubic feet).

The Equinox’s cargo area is larger than the Niro’s in almost every dimension:

 

Equinox

Niro

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

34.9”/67.4”

31.8”/64”

Max Width

53.7”

48.2”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Equinox LT/Premier’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Niro doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Equinox (except L/LS) offers an optional power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the Equinox Premier, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Niro doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

The Equinox has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The Niro has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The Equinox (except L/LS) offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Niro doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Equinox’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Niro does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Equinox’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Niro’s power windows’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

On a hot day the Equinox’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Niro can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Equinox LS/LT/Premier’s available exterior keypad. The Niro doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Equinox Premier detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Niro doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Equinox’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia only offers heated mirrors on the Niro EX/Touring.

The Equinox Premier has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Niro offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Equinox and the Niro offer available heated front seats. The Equinox Premier also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Niro.

Both the Equinox and the Niro offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Equinox has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Niro doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Equinox outsold the Kia Niro by almost eleven to one during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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