We’ve compiled the facts on the Chevrolet Equinox vs the Hyundai Santa Fe. Find out what we think in our article here.
Are you looking to get into a capable crossover SUV for $25k or less? It’s not as difficult as you might think especially when you look at the Chevrolet Equinox vs the Hyundai Santa Fe. These crossovers offer storage and passenger comfort without feeling like you’re driving a tank.
The fact that these crossovers handle more like cars is part of their appeal. Long gone are the days of bulky SUVs feeling like top-heavy trucks while taking steep corners.
The Chevy Equinox and the Hyundai Santa Fe were designed with the everyday driver in mind. They have room to haul the groceries and the family at the same time all while providing a great driving experience with car-like handling. And if you’re looking to knock out a long trip, their designs are certainly up to the task.
But let’s get to it. There can only be one winner in this round of crossover competition. We’re going to explore the used market to find out how much value we can get for $25,000.
We’ve chosen the 2020 model year for our comparison. You can find 2021 models within our price range, but they are much less plentiful on the market right now. We feel that 2020 gives you a wider range of options to choose from compared to older models.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has already been recognized as a solid value in the world of crossover SUVs. You’ll likely see two different engine sizes available on the used market: the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder and the 2.4L naturally aspirated four-cylinder. More than likely, you’ll see the 2.4L fall within our $25,000 budget with far fewer miles on it. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be found in standard front-wheel drive and optional AWD configurations.
The Hyundai Santa Fe’s standard 2.4L four-cylinder puts out a modest 185 horsepower and 178 lbs.-ft of torque. The more powerful 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder produces a snappier 235 horsepower and 260 lbs.-ft of torque. Drivers will find that the Hyundai Santa Fe gets 22 city/29 highway MPG with the standard 2.4L four-cylinder engine. If you want to sacrifice a little fuel efficiency, then the turbocharged 2.0L will deliver 20 city/27 highway MPG.
The Chevy Equinox is another family-friendly option in the wide world of crossovers. It was offered with two turbocharged four-cylinder engines in 2020: the lackluster 1.5L and the peppier 2.0L. The 1.5L engine produces a paltry 170 horsepower and 203 lbs.-ft of torque while the 2.0L throws down an impressive 252 horsepower and 260 lbs.-ft of torque. These engines are mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
The Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t particularly powerful, but it does a good job of getting drivers down the road with a little coaxing. It feels more powerful than the Chevy Equinox, especially with the Equinox’s sluggish 1.5L engine. If you’re looking for a bit more power from the Chevy Equinox, we recommend getting the more competent 2.0L.
The Hyundai Santa Fe offers a quieter ride and a bit more steering wheel feedback than the Chevy Equinox, but neither one is really for those who like to drive hard. The Chevy Equinox rides much stiffer than the Hyundai Santa Fe making rough stretches of road unpleasant in comparison.
It should be noted that both vehicles can comfortably tow up to 3,500 lbs. when properly equipped. While they may not haul a large fifth-wheel camper, they make lightweight towing jobs possible.
Reliability seems to be about the same with both models. The Hyundai Santa Fe received a score of 86 out of 100 from JD Power and Associates while the Chevy Equinox was rated at 87 out of 100.
Overall, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers a much higher-quality ride than the Chevy Equinox.
Both the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Chevy Equinox have attractive interiors that are well-built and functional. The plastics are cushy, and the cloth seats are spacious and comfortable. The Chevy Equinox has more cupholders with enough luxuries to keep passengers satisfied on long trips.
The Hyundai Santa Fe seems to be a little more thought out in terms of the control layout. The digital dashboard and infotainment system provides easy-to-read feedback to the driver.
The Hyundai Santa Fe also offers more cargo space with 35.9 cubic feet/71.3 cubic feet compared to the Chevy Equinox’s 29.9 cubic feet/63.9 cubic feet. There is enough space behind the Santa Fe’s rear seats to comfortably pack up the family for vacation without feeling cramped.
Overall, the Hyundai Santa Fe wins out when it comes to interior comforts. The heated rear seats, heads-up display, and ventilated front seats beat out Chevy’s basic attributes.
The Hyundai Santa Fe offers three base trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. There are also two trims that sport the 2.0L turbocharged engine: the SEL 2.0 and the Limited 2.0.
The SE trim gives drivers features such as a 7-inch display, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The SEL trim is a step up and adds blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, an 8-way power driver seat, heated seats, and a proximity key with a push button start.
The SEL 2.0 trim adds the 2.0L turbocharged engine along with leather seating and a panoramic sunroof.
Drivers get a tech boost with the Hyundai Santa Fe’s Limited trim. Features such as a surround-view monitor, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a heads-up display are standard. The Limited 2.0L adds the 2.0L turbocharged engine, leather seating, and a panoramic sunroof.
The Chevy Equinox comes in four trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier. The L trim is very basic in terms of features and surprisingly hard to find on the used market. The LS is a good starting point and includes features such as a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a lane departure warning with steering assist, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
The LT trim adds features such as high-intensity headlights, a powered driver’s seat, and a color driver information display. If you’re wanting more luxury, the Limited adds features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a blind-spot warning system, a powered liftgate with hands-free access, an 8-inch touchscreen, a remote start, and more power ports on the interior.
The Hyundai Santa Fe SEL 2.0 falls well within our $25,000 budget and would be our top trim to recommend. It simply has the power, interior features, and comfort that make it the most enjoyable trim level.
If you’re still sold on the Chevy Equinox, we recommend looking at the LT trim for a good value.
These two competitors are hard to decern from each other on paper, but the road tests are convincing: the Chevy Equinox offers drivers the best value. It is a perfectly capable crossover that is tuned for daily driving. While it suffers from a cargo room deficit and is a little more sluggish, it is cheaper to run thanks to its great fuel economy.
If the Hyundai Santa Fe was better with fuel economy, then it would have won out. The ride is smoother, and the cargo space is great, but we would rather save money at the gas pump. Most families won’t miss the extra cargo space, but they would definitely feel the pinch of the poor fuel economy.
Regardless of which one you choose, be sure to check out our used car checklist before pulling the trigger on your next crossover.
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