2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid vs. 2019 Chevrolet Equinox

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Equinox doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

The Highlander Hybrid has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Equinox doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Highlander Hybrid. But it costs extra on the Equinox.

The Highlander Hybrid’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Equinox doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Highlander Hybrid and the Equinox have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid weighs 1143 to 1691 pounds more than the Chevrolet Equinox. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is safer than the Chevrolet Equinox:

 

Highlander Hybrid

Equinox

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

291

376

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is safer than the Chevrolet Equinox:

 

Highlander Hybrid

Equinox

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

54

109

Chest Movement

.6 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

88 G’s

195 G’s

Hip Force

348 lbs.

357 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

111

288

Spine Acceleration

41 G’s

55 G’s

Hip Force

440 lbs.

630 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

372

377

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Highlander Hybrid the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Equinox was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The Highlander Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Equinox’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Highlander Hybrid’s reliability 40 points higher than the Equinox.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Chevrolet is ranked 23rd.

Engine

The Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 136 more horsepower (306 vs. 170) than the Equinox’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. The Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 54 more horsepower (306 vs. 252) than the Equinox’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Highlander Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Equinox doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Equinox with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Highlander Hybrid has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Equinox FWD’s standard fuel tank (17.2 vs. 14.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Highlander Hybrid has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Equinox AWD/Diesel’s standard fuel tank (17.2 vs. 15.6 gallons).

Transmission

The Highlander Hybrid has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Equinox doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Highlander

Equinox 1.5T/Diesel

Equinox 2.0T

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

The Highlander Hybrid stops shorter than the Equinox:

 

Highlander

Equinox

 

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Highlander Hybrid has larger tires than the Equinox (245/55R19 vs. 225/65R17). The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Equinox (245/55R19 vs. 235/50R19).

The Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Equinox’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Equinox.

Suspension and Handling

The Highlander Hybrid has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Highlander Hybrid flat and controlled during cornering. The Equinox’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Highlander Hybrid’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Equinox (109.8 inches vs. 107.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Highlander Hybrid is 2.2 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than on the Equinox.

The Highlander Hybrid’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (46.6% to 53.4%) than the Equinox’s (56.7% to 43.3%). This gives the Highlander Hybrid more stable handling and braking.

Passenger Space

The Highlander Hybrid has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Equinox can only carry 5.

The Highlander Hybrid has 41.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Equinox (144.9 vs. 103.2).

The Highlander Hybrid has .7 inches more front headroom, 3.3 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front hip room, 2.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.4 inches more rear headroom, 5.4 inches more rear hip room and 3.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Equinox.

Cargo Capacity

The Highlander Hybrid’s cargo area provides more volume than the Equinox.

 

Highlander Hybrid

Equinox

Third Seat Folded

42.3 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

29.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

83.7 cubic feet

63.5 cubic feet

The Highlander Hybrid’s cargo area is larger than the Equinox’s in every dimension:

 

Highlander Hybrid

Equinox

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

17.5”/43”/80”

n.a./34.9”/67.4”

Max Width

56”

53.7”

Min Width

45.6”

40.7”

Height

32.6”

31”

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Highlander Hybrid. The Equinox doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

The Highlander Hybrid’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Equinox’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Towing

The Highlander Hybrid’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Equinox’s (3500 vs. 1500 pounds).

Ergonomics

The Highlander Hybrid’s standard front power windows open or close 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 Equinox’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches.

The Highlander Hybrid has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Equinox doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Highlander Hybrid Platinum’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Equinox’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Highlander Hybrid’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Equinox’s headlights are rated “Marginal.”

The Highlander Hybrid has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Equinox.

Economic Advantages

The Highlander Hybrid will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Highlander Hybrid will retain 51.94% to 53.43% of its original price after five years, while the Equinox only retains 46.06% to 49.61%.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Equinox isn't recommended.

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

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