The Chevrolet Equinox arrived in 2005 as a replacement for the Chevy S-10 Blazer and Tracker. It is the most popular SUV model from GM. With more than three million sold since its inception, the Equinox has become a popular family-friendly vehicle, yet not every model year is one to rave about.
It’s important to look at the differences between Chevy Equinox years before deciding on which one to purchase. To help you do that, we’ve compiled our in-depth data from FIXD devices installed in the Chevy Equinox models. We also have data from hundreds of owner surveys, recalls, safety testing, fuel economy ratings and other factors. This information shows you the best and worst years for the Chevrolet Equinox when you put it all together. You can use this information if you want to buy a used Equinox or if you want to know if you should hold onto the Chevy SUV you currently drive.
Here’s the summary showing what we found. Scroll further if you are looking for a more detailed analysis of the information.
|Best Years||Why?||Worst Years||Why?|
High reliability ratings, low cost of ownership, and good safety scores
Inferior reliability scores, Lowest fuel economy rating, and higher chance of engine, transmission or brake failure
Favorable reliability ratings, decent fuel economy numbers, and reasonable cost of ownership
Below normal reliability ratings, higher cost of ownership, and average fuel economy numbers
Average reliability rating, typical cost of ownership, and good crash test scores
Higher probability of engine trouble, yet average fuel economy and crash test ratings
Chevrolet Equinox MPG, Engine Reliability Score, & Safety Ratings Year by Year
The best way to figure out which Chevrolet Equinox is right for you is to compare the models to one another. To do this, we look at the engine reliability scores, fuel economy ratings, and safety data to gain a clearer understanding.
As we lay out the data, you’ll notice that none of the first models from each generation are listed favorably. As with most vehicles, the first model year of each generation has some bugs that must be worked out before the SUV becomes more reliable.
If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USAs’ most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the US. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.
Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years
To analyze Chevrolet Equinox engine reliability, it’s best to examine the data from two angles. First, we start with the FIXD Reliability score (Green line). Then, we factor in the Owner Reliability score (Gray line) from the surveyed Equinox owners. The newer the models are, the better the ratings seem to be. Additionally, newer models see relatively closer scores between the two data sources, unlike older models that have wildly different ratings at times.
Every Equinox model year is rated on a 1-10 scale, no matter which source is used. We base the FIXD Reliability score on the number of Chevy check engine lights thrown with the specific model year and weight the score by mileage driven. 5 is an average score, while 10 shows the best rating possible and 1 is the lowest. Based on the data, we recommend avoiding the 2005-2011 Chevrolet Equinox, but we will examine the basis for our thoughts later in the article.
NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years
The safety score given by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows how well the vehicle can handle certain crashes. When a vehicle has a higher safety rating, you can find cheap car insurance for your used SUV.
If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.
|What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:|
Safety ratings are also especially important for family SUVs. Before you put your family into a vehicle, you want to know it’s going to be safe. Overall, the Chevrolet Equinox normally receives decent safety ratings. The only time the rating dips below average for the vehicle type is during the 2009, 2017 and 2018 model years.
MPG – Over The Years
SUVs can fall on either end of the spectrum when it comes to fuel efficiency. Some are notorious gas guzzlers, while others give up a little performance to be efficient. Overall, we find the Chevrolet Equinox to be one that balances performance and efficiency well. The graph above shows the average mpg according to Fueleconomy.gov.
We see an upward trend in fuel efficiency as the Equinox becomes newer. While there are a few dips in the path upward, the models continue to get better and better overall. Older models would be the ones to avoid if you are worried about spending money at the pump. If you are looking at purchasing a used model, you may also want to steer clear of any that dip temporarily, such as the 2008 or 2017. You can get a comparable model to these that goes further on a tank of gas.
Current Market Value of All Chevrolet Equinox Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
Before you can determine the average repair and maintenance cost of the Chevy Equinox models, it’s important to go back and look at the reliability of that model year. If the vehicle suffers from engine or transmission issues, the repair costs are usually going to be more expensive than the average because these parts are complex to work on.
The cost of maintenance and repair can also affect the resale value of the Equinox. Based on our chart, you can see the Chevy Equinox resale value goes higher the newer the models are. These also correspond with fewer problems. The Gray line represents the Average Cost of Repairs, while the Green line shows the average KBB market value.
If you see two models with closely related values, such as the 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, you may prefer buying the newer model for upgraded features at a similar price. Referencing this information can help you get the best deal on a used Equinox.
When shopping for a used Chevrolet Equinox, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Important Features Timeline
2005: Brand-new SUV sharing a platform with the Saturn Vue
2006: Anti Lock brakes come standard, heated cloth seats are now available
2007: New standard features include four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, an MP3 player jack, a tire-pressure monitor, and a driver information center
2008: Two new trim levels offered (LTZ and Sport), OnStar now comes standard
2009: All models receive satellite radio and side curtain airbags, Bluetooth is optional equipment
2010: First model of a new generation, includes upgraded engine that’s more efficient
2011: Optional V6 engine now includes E85 capability, 1LT trim includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a USB port and Bluetooth
2012: Forward collision alert and lane-departure warning are newly available, 1LT comes standard with a rearview camera
2013: 3.6L V6 engine replaces the 3.0L, newly available features include MyLink, a power passenger seat, a rear-seat entertainment system and an updated touchscreen interface
2014: Model remains unchanged
2015: New trim level added (L), OnStar includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and 4G LTE connection
2016: Refreshed front-end styling includes LED daytime running lights (LT/LTZ) and projector-beam headlights, newly standard 7” touchscreen and rearview camera
2017: LTZ name changed to Premier, two new packages added to the LT trim (Midnight and Sport)
2018: Start of the 3rd generation, new engines introduced
2019: New infotainment 3 touchscreen display, newly available adaptive cruise control
2020: Additional safety technology added with standard equipment
2021: Available 2.0L turbo engine discontinued, LT trim has available leather package
2022: New RS trim, revised exterior style
2023: 5 horsepower added to standard engine, Midnight and Sport Edition packages available
The Best Years of the Chevrolet Equinox
Based on the engine reliability data, feedback from owners, fuel economy ratings, and safety test scores, it’s clear that some Chevrolet Equinox models soar above others. To help you determine which one is right for you, we provide a year-by-year review of the best Chevy Equinox models. In this review, we also look at some of the most common diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), as reported by other owners. We also discuss the open recalls for every model, with information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
2019-2021 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 8-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 9/10
KBB Value: $17,164-$20,008
Fuel Economy: 26-28 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $350-$487
Safety Rating: 4.8/5
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox is one model year after the start of the 3rd generation. The initial bugs have been worked out and these three model years excel beyond the rest. Not only do these SUVs have near-perfect reliability scores, but the cost of ownership couldn’t be much lower.
The FIXD Reliability scores for the 2019 to 2021 model years range from an 8 to a 10 out of 10. Additionally, the Owners Reliability scores rank the three Equinox models with a 9 out of 10.
NHTSA crash testing labels these Chevy SUVs with a great score of 4.8 (out of 5), proving they are one of the safer family vehicles on the road.
Owners aren’t even facing high repair bills with these Chevy models. Between the three Equinox years, the 2020 has the highest annual maintenance repair costs at an average of $487 a year. There have been virtually no reported issues with engine or transmission failure.
The most prevalent trouble code is Turbocharger/Supercharger A Underboost Condition (P0299). There’s also the possibility of the Mass Airflow Sensor Out of Self Test Range (P1101). The good news about either of these codes is that you shouldn’t have to pay anything for the repairs if your SUV is still covered by the factory warranty. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is valid for 3 years or 36,000 miles, while the powertrain coverage lasts for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The 2019 Chevrolet Equinox is subject to four recalls, while the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox only has three. The 2021 Chevrolet Equinox matches the last model, with just three recalls. Either way, all of these repairs are offered at no cost through a Chevy dealer.
2016-2017 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 9/10
KBB Value: $9,725-$13,678
Fuel Economy: 22-23 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $500-$592
Safety Rating: 4.4-4.5/5
The 2016 and 2017 are the last of the 2nd generation, so there are minimal issues. These models also have good reliability scores and the cost of ownership doesn’t jump up dramatically from the 2019-2021 selection.
The FIXD Reliability scores for the 2016 and 2017 model years are both an 8 out of 10. Additionally, the Owner Reliability scores rank the two Equinox years with a 9 out of 10.
NHTSA crash testing shows that these Chevy SUVs are also considered safe. They have a score between 4.4 and 4.5 (out of 5), but the ranking of the 2017 model is considered lower than the average in the class, but not by much.
The maintenance and repair bills aren’t much higher with these two Chevy models. Between the two Equinox years, the 2016 has the highest annual maintenance & repair costs, averaging $592. The chances of engine problems or brake malfunctions are slightly higher with the 2016 model over the 2017.
The three most reported problems are all intertwined with one another. There’s the B Camshaft Position – Open or Short in Oil Control Valve – Bank 1 (P0013) trouble code, the Exhaust Camshaft Timing- Over-Advanced Bank 1 (P0014) code, and the Intake Camshaft Timing – Over-Advanced Bank 1 (P0011) DTC. Whether it requires an exhaust camshaft actuator solenoid, a variable camshaft timing (VCT) solenoid or an intake camshaft position (CMP) actuator solenoid, you are looking at the same price range. These three fixes average $1,016 to $1,531.
The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox is only subject to one recall, which is amazing news. Even better than that, the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox currently has no recalls. It’s hard to find SUVs with this track record.
2012-2015 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 6-8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 7-8/10
KBB Value: $6,415-$8,696
Fuel Economy: 22-23 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $653-$741
Safety Rating: 4.5/5
While the 2012 to 2015 models are also part of the 2nd generation, they needed to be ranked separately. These models take a small dip in reliability ratings and go up a little with maintenance and repair costs. Still, they hold their own, ending up in our top choices.
The FIXD Reliability scores for the 2012 to 2015 model years range from a 6 to an 8 out of 10. Additionally, Equinox Owner Reliability scores range from 7 or 8 out of 10.
NHTSA crash testing reveals a solid score for these Chevy SUVs. All of them have earned a 4.5 (out of 5).
The maintenance and repair bills have gone up a little bit over the last few models, but not enough to be concerned. Between these Equinox years, the 2013 has the highest annual maintenance repair costs, averaging $741. All but the 2015 model has a higher chance of engine trouble, while the 2012 may also be prone to transmission repairs.
While some of the same problems from the previous group exist, there are some new codes worth looking at. Most important is the Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (P0420) DTC. This repair usually requires a catalytic converter, costing between $1,538 and $2,041, on average. Additionally, both Camshaft Position A – Camshaft Position Correlation – Bank 1 (P0016) and Crankshaft Position – Camshaft Position Correlation – Bank 1 Sensor B (P0017) seem to occur with the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox. This fix may require a timing chain, which could cost $1,046 to $1,615. Finally, watch out for the System Too Lean – Bank 1 (P0171) code on the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. It could require a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, costing an average of $172 to $309.
With three recalls, the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox is still doing well in our rankings. Plus, the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox only has two recalls, while the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox jumps down to just one recall. Sadly, the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox jumps back up to two recalls, but that’s nothing to complain about overall.
The Worst Years of the Chevrolet Equinox
If you want to buy a used Chevrolet Equinox, there are some models you should avoid. If you are the current owner of any of these, you may be spending too much on your annual maintenance and repair bills. Your SUV may not last as long as a different model would either, thereby reducing its overall value to you.
Based on the same data used above, let’s take a look at these lower-ranking Equinox models.
2005-2007 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 1-5/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-7/10
KBB Value: $2,564-$2,919
Fuel Economy: 19-20 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $550-$750
Safety Rating: 4.67/5
The very first Chevy Equinox models aren’t rated very highly, landing them in the top spot of the years to avoid. The reliability rankings are about as low as they get and fuel economy isn’t good. Still, the average annual maintenance and repair cost seems to hang in there.
The FIXD Reliability scores for the 2005 to 2007 model years range from 1 to 5 out of 10. Additionally, Equinox Owner Reliability scores range from 5 to 7 out of 10.
Despite those low rankings, NHTSA crash testing shows a great score. All of them have earned a 4.67 (out of 5).
Even the maintenance and repair bills seem to remain low. Between the three models, you may spend $550 to $750 per year. The 2005 and 2007 Equinox show a high chance of engine, transmission, brake and AC/heater repairs that could cost more than $500. Sadly, it appears that we don’t have enough data on the 2006 Equinox to report the figures at this time.
All three models seem to suffer from the System Gross Leak Evaporative System Malfunction (P0455) trouble code. Thankfully, it appears that a fuel filler cap may be all that’s needed. This fix costs, on average, between $58 and $165. The 2005 and 2006 Chevy Equinox may also suffer from the Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (P0420) DTC. This repair often requires a catalytic converter, costing between $1,538 and $2,041, on average.
The 2005 Chevrolet Equinox has one recall, while the 2006 Chevrolet Equinox suffers from none. Finally, the 2007 Chevrolet Equinox is the subject of four recalls, which is the most yet in our rankings.
2008-2011 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 2-6/10
Owner Reliability Score: 6-8/10
KBB Value: $3,514-$5,642
Fuel Economy: 19-22 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $850-$1,175
Safety Rating: 4.33-4.67/5
These Chevrolet Equinox models span the 1st and 2nd generations but have some of the highest maintenance and repair costs of all. Additionally, the reliability rankings aren’t much better than the last bunch.
The FIXD Reliability Scores for the 2008 to 2011 model years range from a 2 to 6 out of 10. Additionally, Equinox Owner Reliability scores range from 6 to 8 out of 10.
Thankfully, the NHTSA crash testing is still showing decent scores, although the 2009 Equinox drops below the average in this class. All of them have earned a 4.33 to 4.67 (out of 5).
The reason these rank so low in our estimation is because of the expensive cost of ownership. Among the four models, you may spend between $850 and $1,175 a year, with the most expensive being the 2008 Equinox. Some models are more prone to engine or transmission repairs, while others have brake, AC/heat or electrical failures.
The 2010 and 2011 have a higher instance of the Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (P0420) DTC. This repair often requires a catalytic converter, costing between $1,538 and $2,041, on average. On the other hand, the 2008 and 2009 models deal with the Coolant Thermostat Temperature Below Regulating Temperature (P0128) code. If an engine coolant thermostat is needed for the repair, it could cost you $200 to $500. Additionally, the 2008-2010 models deal with the System Gross Leak Evaporative System Malfunction (P0455) trouble code. In most cases, a fuel filler cap may be all that’s needed. This fix costs between $58 and $165, on average.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox
FIXD Reliability Score: 9/10
Owner Reliability Score: 9/10
KBB Value: $15,333
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $590
Safety Rating: 4.4/5
The last choice on the worst Equinox models is the 2018. From an overhead view, the 2018 Equinox may look decent enough, but there are some problems occurring here that are unusual for newer SUVs. As the first model in the 3rd generation, it’s no wonder this Chevy has encountered some difficulties.
The FIXD Reliability Score for the 2018 Chevy model year is a 9 out of 10. Additionally, Equinox Owner Reliability scores rank the model with a 9 out of 10.
The NHTSA crash testing lists this model with a 4.4 (out of 5). However, this is a below-average score for comparable models in the segment.
While the annual cost of maintenance and repair seems reasonable enough at $590, there’s an extremely high chance of engine repairs costing more than $500. The same can be said about brake repairs, so it may be worth passing on this model.
This Chevy seems to deal with the Mass Airflow Sensor Out of Self Test Range (P1101) code frequently. It also suffers from the Turbo / Supercharger Underboost Condition (P0299) code. Both of these could turn into expensive repairs.
Another troubling aspect of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is that it has five recalls. It also has more than 230 complaints from actual drivers.
What years of the Chevrolet Equinox have engine and/or transmission problems?
Engine problems seem to be most prevalent with the 2005, 2007-2008, 2010-2014, 2016, and 2018 Chevy Equinox models. As far as transmission trouble, the 2005, 2007, and 2009-2012 have a higher than average chance of needing a $500+ tranny repair.
What is considered high mileage for a Chevrolet Equinox?
Because SUVs get used in a variety of ways, it’s challenging to determine what the average mileage is for the Chevy Equinox. If you drive sensibly and maintain the SUV, it could easily last more than 150,000 miles. Yet, some Equinox models fail prematurely because they are used hard and haven’t been taken care of.
Based on our data, high mileage could be anything over 145,000 miles.
The older years that we’ve analyzed (2005-2010) have a range of mileage between 125,000 and 187,500. Based on this information, it’s unlikely that many Equinox models make it to 200,000 miles. If they do, they probably aren’t too far from becoming a scrap model at the junkyard.
The hope is that the newer models perform better and last longer. Based on our initial reliability studies, it’s possible that the most recent Chevy Equinox models may exceed the mileage of the older SUVs.
What other vehicles should I consider?
Chevrolet has a bunch of other SUV models to choose from. If you want something smaller, you might consider the Trax or Trailblazer. The larger models include the Blazer, Traverse, Tahoe or Suburban. There are also some electric options available, including the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV.
If you would prefer to move outside of the Chevy brand, there are several competitors worth checking into. For similar style and performance, consider the Mazda CX-50, Honda CR-V, Ford Bronco Sport, or the Volkswagen Tiguan.
What owners of the Chevrolet Equinox like to use their car for:
Percent based x/5-star: 0-10% = 1, 11-20% = 2, 21-30% = 3, 31-40% = 4, 41%+ = 5
|Frequent Use Categories:||How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||***|
|Office on Wheels||*|
A Note About Data and Information Sources
This article has many details about Chevrolet Equinox reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App.
The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing.
This is an objective score.
- Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Chevrolet Equinox owners who use FIXD.
The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Chevrolet Equinox.
This is a subjective score.
To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:
How reliable would you say your Chevrolet Equinox is?
a. Just point A to point B driving
b. A Daily Commuter
c. Good for a 100 mile road trip
d. Good for a 500 mile road trip
e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem
From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:
a. = 2
b. = 4
c. = 6
d. = 8
e. = 10
Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is.
One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.
Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.
Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others.
It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars.
Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data.
We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Chevrolet Equinox with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Chevrolet Equinox owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.
- US GM Sales Up 2.5 Percent In 2022 Calendar Year, GM Authority (January 6, 2023). Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://gmauthority.com/blog/2023/01/gm-sales-figures-numbers-results-united-states-2022-calendar-year/
- Chevy Equinox Review, Edmunds. Retrieved April 16, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/equinox/
- Chevrolet Warranty, Chevrolet. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.chevrolet.com/owners/warranty
Brian Jones owns a used car dealership outside of Dallas, Texas. He has also worked for decades as an ASE Certified Master Technician for a variety of new car dealerships. Now he spends his time consulting dealerships and writing for some renowned publications, such as Motor1 (https://www.motor1.com/info/team/brian-jones/). When he’s not working, he’s tinkering around with pickup trucks and traveling with his family.