2020 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2019 Ford Explorer

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 Ford Explorer 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 Explorer doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Equinox has standard Automatic Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Equinox Premier offers an optional Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer 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.

Both the Equinox and the Explorer 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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

Equinox

Explorer

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Chevrolet Equinox is safer than the Explorer:

Equinox

Explorer

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

86

93

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

13 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

22 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.7/.1 kN

3.7/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.47/.51

.87/.61

Tibia forces R/L

1.2/.2 kN

2.2/.6 kN

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 Chevrolet Equinox is safer than the Ford Explorer:

Equinox

Explorer

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

630 lbs.

713 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

17 inches

HIC

377

407

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

730 lbs.

909 lbs.

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, 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 157 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Explorer was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Equinox’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Explorer’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Equinox first among compact SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Explorer isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 31 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Chevrolet Equinox 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the Ford Explorer 2.3 turbo 4-cyl.:

Equinox

Explorer

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.1 MPH

84.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Equinox gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:

MPG

Equinox

FWD

1.5 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/31 hwy

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

AWD

1.5 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/30 hwy

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/28 hwy

Explorer

FWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

19 city/27 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

17 city/24 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

18 city/25 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Equinox’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop 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 Explorer.

Brakes and Stopping

The Equinox stops shorter than the Explorer:

Equinox

Explorer

70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

166 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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 Explorer doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Equinox Premier AWD handles at .86 G’s, while the Explorer Sport 4WD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Equinox’s turning circle is 1.5 feet tighter than the Explorer Base/XLT/Limited’s (37.4 feet vs. 38.9 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Equinox has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (7.9 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Equinox to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The Chevrolet Equinox may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1100 to 1250 pounds less than the Ford Explorer.

The Equinox is 1 foot, 3.6 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the Equinox easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Equinox is 6.3 inches narrower than the Explorer, making the Equinox easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

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

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Equinox easier. The Equinox’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 28.6 inches, while the Explorer’s liftover is 31.1 inches.

Ergonomics

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 Explorer 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 Explorer’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

When the Equinox with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Explorer’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Equinox owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Equinox will cost $700 less than the Explorer over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Equinox is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because typical repairs cost much less on the Equinox than the Explorer, including $17 less for a water pump, $32 less for a timing belt/chain and $400 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Equinox will be $10625 to $11546 less than for the Ford Explorer.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Equinox first among compact SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Explorer isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Chevrolet Equinox outsold the Ford Explorer by 27% during 2018.

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

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