2020 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

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 Subaru Outback 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 Outback doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Equinox Premier offers an optional Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback 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 Outback 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, 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 Subaru Outback:

Equinox

Outback

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

17%

27%

Neck Stress

190 lbs.

259 lbs.

Neck Compression

10 lbs.

42 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

26%

27%

Neck Stress

153 lbs.

153 lbs.

Neck Compression

51 lbs.

88 lbs.

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 post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Chevrolet Equinox is safer than the Subaru Outback:

Equinox

Outback

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

17 inches

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

40 G’s

Hip Force

730 lbs.

736 lbs.

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

Warranty

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

There are almost 5 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Equinox’s warranty.

Reliability

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

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

The Equinox’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. produces 29 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. The Equinox’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Chevrolet Equinox 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the Outback 2.5i:

Equinox

Outback

Zero to 30 MPH

3.7 sec

4.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

9.6 sec

10.5 sec

Quarter Mile

17.5 sec

18.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

82 MPH

81.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Equinox AWD 2.0 Turbo gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 3.6R (22 city/28 hwy vs. 20 city/27 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 Outback doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Outback doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Equinox 2.0T’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

Equinox 2.0T

Outback

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.4 inches

The Equinox stops much shorter than the Outback:

Equinox

Outback

70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Equinox Premier’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (235/50R19 vs. 225/65R17).

The Equinox Premier’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Equinox Premier offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Outback’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

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 Outback doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Equinox Premier AWD handles at .86 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Equinox Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

The Chevrolet Equinox may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 350 pounds less than the Subaru Outback.

The Equinox is 6.8 inches shorter than the Outback, making the Equinox easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

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

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the Equinox is 1.8 inches lower than the Outback (17.2” vs. 19”). The Equinox’s rear step up height is 1.5 inches lower than the Outback’s (17.5” vs. 19”).

Cargo Capacity

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

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Equinox Premier’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Outback doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Outback is limited to 2700 pounds. The Equinox offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Equinox has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Outback doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The Equinox’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Outback doesn’t offer an easy entry 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 Outback does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Equinox and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Equinox is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Outback prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Outback’s standard power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically.

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

The Equinox’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.

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 Outback’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Equinox Premier keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Outback doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Equinox and the Outback 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 Outback Base/Premium doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Equinox (except L/LS) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Outback doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Equinox is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Equinox is less expensive to operate than the Outback because typical repairs cost less on the Equinox than the Outback, including $178 less for front struts.

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 Outback isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Chevrolet Equinox outsold the Subaru Outback by 86% during 2018.

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

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