A blue 2020 Chevy Equinox is shown from the side.

Did Chevy Make a Mistake With Newer Chevy Equinox Models?

Sometimes a manufacturer makes a decision so drastic that it’s almost impossible for two automotive market enthusiasts not to sit down and ask, “was this the right choice?” The used Chevy Equinox market is ripe for this discussion, and some drivers will only ever consider a used Chevy Equinox over the newest one because Chevy doesn’t offer a diesel engine for the Equinox anymore. Some may not have known that, and some simply may not care. However, those who prefer diesel engines over any other kind, like gasoline-powered engines, EVs, and hybrids, will go out of their way to ensure their car is of the diesel-engine variety.

Of course, the engine powering your vehicle is only part of the story, but it doesn’t hurt those keen on driving a diesel-powered Chevy Equinox knowing that to get a diesel engine in their Equinox, they’re already saving money because they have to dive into the pre-owned market. As Chevy Equinox models with diesel engines get older, the prices will continue to fall. This doesn’t answer the question of whether or not removing the diesel engine from the Equinox’s assortment of powertrains was drastic enough to be considered a mistake, and that’s what you and I will look into further.

A black 2020 Chevy Equinox is shown from the front driving at night.

A Questionable Choice?

Chevy’s removal of the diesel-powered Equinox engine was an unfortunate series of events for aspiring shoppers looking to upgrade their diesel-powered models to the latest one, such as those upgrading their Equinox from a Chevy CPO program. Chevy’s lineup of stellar automobiles ranges from the entry-level cars in the market, from the Malibu to the Silverado line of pickup trucks, the second best-selling vehicle in the United States, and they aren’t short on diesel powertrains. However, there’s a reason why this doesn’t affect the Equinox as much as you’d think, and that’s because of its efficiency, something it has never lost sight of.

Let’s compare the 2019 model to the latest 2023 Equinox; the 2019 model is available with one of three engines, including a turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine alongside a stronger turbocharged 2.0L I-4 engine and a 1.6L turbo-diesel powertrain. Three options against one may seem like a better prospect, especially since earlier Equinox models released in 2019 can outperform newer models solely because of this change. Drivers looking for a used Equinox can take solace in knowing that they’re saving money by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle and getting more choices than they would with a new model.

Turbocharged engines hold up extremely well with fuel efficiency, so the loss of the diesel powertrain doesn’t sting as much as it would otherwise. The 2019 Equinox is similar to the 2023 model in that the turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine comes standard alongside its 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, which was slightly increased to 175 hp in the 2023 model. The larger turbocharged 2.0L I-4 engine, which was also seen in the 2020 model and was dropped in the 2021 Equinox, produces an ample 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which newer Equinox models simply can’t achieve.

The Equinox may not be able to achieve the same level of performance on its newer models, but this makes the used market a strong prospect for anybody looking into getting an SUV at an excellent price. So now that I’ve established the two gasoline-powered engines aren’t necessarily bad by any means, how do they compare to the turbo-diesel engine that was the first of the three to go?

The Equinox Is Still Fuel-Efficient

Although the removal of the turbo-diesel engine is the main focal point of what I’m talking about today, the question now focuses on whether it was a mistake for Chevy to remove the diesel engine from the Equinox. Initially, the removal of the diesel engine caused some upset with the drivers who were looking to purchase an Equinox model powered by a diesel powertrain, but for those who weren’t entirely interested in diesel, is the change a deal breaker? Because the Equinox’s turbocharged gasoline-powered engines are so fuel-efficient, it’s not as much of a detriment to those who have saving money in mind. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

The 2023 Equinox and its turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine output 175 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty for a vehicle within this price range. The engine goes through a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the experience of driving the Equinox with this engine is largely a positive one. However, it’s the EPA-estimated ratings of 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway that truly shine with the turbocharged engine. Switching to an all-wheel drivetrain only slightly reduces these numbers to 25 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. Having a turbocharged engine is a large advantage because you not only harness plenty of the power you also get with a turbo-diesel engine and a majority of its fuel efficiency. The difference, of course, is that you’ll be filling the car with gasoline instead of diesel, but depending on the current gas prices, this could also save you money.

What did we lose with the removal of the turbo-diesel engine? The 2019 Equinox, the last of its kind to offer the turbo-diesel powertrain, saw a low 137 hp but a respectable 240 lb-ft of torque paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. However, the main draw to the turbo-diesel engine is expectedly fuel efficiency, which saw EPA-estimated ratings of 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. Between the turbo-diesel engine and the gasoline-powered turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine, the city mileage is quite similar, but it’s on the highway where running on diesel shows why it truly can be advantageous.

A red 2020 Chevy Equinox is shown angled left.

Was It a Mistake?

Depending on who you ask, removing a diesel engine from a vehicle’s selection of engines is never a good thing. Reversely, a large subset of drivers simply don’t care about diesel, and they’d either prefer a gasoline-powered engine for one reason or another. Was removing the diesel engine a bad idea? I don’t believe so. When an automotive manufacturer makes a mistake, it’s not something mundane like removing a powertrain or even discontinuing a vehicle. Mistakes in the automotive world can be drastic and sometimes life-threatening to the driver if a vehicle needs a recall for malfunctioning parts. Removing a diesel engine from an SUV is anything but a mistake, but I don’t think it’s fair to think that nobody was affected because there are drivers out there who genuinely care about driving a diesel-powered engine.

However, given that this discussion is subjective, it’s not entirely fair for me to say that it was a drastic mistake or not, given that it doesn’t affect every driver in the same way. As I said, if a driver only cares about gasoline-powered engines, the Equinox remains a steller choice whether it’s from the new or used market. However, if the driver has their mind set on driving a diesel-powered engine, their only option is to look back in the used market until they find what they’re looking for. No matter what type of powertrain they’re looking for, the Equinox is an excellent choice for your next SUV, and you’ll find excellent benefits to purchasing one, either new or used.