Today’s sport utility vehicles offer drivers plenty of options and a value proposition that is all about versatility, dependability, and performance. SUVs fill a space between the creature comforts of sedans and coupes and the roominess of minivans. Best of all, it doesn’t take much to convert the best SUVs from passenger transport to cargo carrier. Simply flip down the rear seat, and you’re ready to haul as much stuff as many minivans. In addition, driving an SUV gives you a higher ground clearance than most sedans, coupes, and minivans, as well as an engine that will outperform a minivan while keeping up with the sedans and coupes on the road. That higher ground clearance comes in handy, especially during times of inclement weather. Two of our favorite SUVs are the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Kia Sorento.
Both come front-wheel drive standard with available all-wheel drive. In addition, they both provide exceptional passenger safety. The Equinox was awarded a 5-star overall vehicle score for safety from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and was named the most dependable compact SUV for three years in a row by J.D. Power and Associates. Similarly, the Sorento was a 2020 top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Those awards should give drivers peace of mind that whether they drive an Equinox or a Sorento, they and their passengers will be safe. Despite these similarities, there are a number of key differences when you compare the 2020 Chevy Equinox vs. 2020 Kia Sorento.
Engine and Transmission Options
Both the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Kia Sorento offer two different engines and transmissions. The standard engine on the Equinox is a 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine. It comes paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and can produce up to 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. There is also an optional 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engine that comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It produces 252 hp and 260lb-ft of torque.
The Sorento also has the engine choices tied to a specific transmission. The base engine is a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4. It comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission and can give you up to 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The other engine on the Sorento is a 3.3-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 gas engine, which is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It produces 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque.
The difference between the powertrains on the two SUVs is readily apparent. While the standard engine on the Equinox is smaller than the one on the Sorento, it actually produces a greater amount of torque, which will give the Equinox better overall pickup. Second, while the V6 option on the Sorento is the largest of the four engines, it isn’t as powerful as the 2.0-liter turbo on the Equinox. This shows the benefits of using a turbocharger to improve the overall performance of a smaller engine.
This carries over to the towing capacity for the two vehicles. The Equinox with the 1.5-liter turbo can tow up to 1,500 pounds while the one with the 2.0-liter turbo has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. This number equals the standard towing for a Sorento with the V6 engine, and beats the 2,000 pound capacity of the Sorento with an I-4 engine. If you want to tow more than 3,500 pounds on the Sorento, you are also going to have to opt for an all-wheel drivetrain as well, which will boost the towing capacity to 5,000 pounds.
One area that most folks care about when buying a new car is fuel economy. You want to know that you won’t have to be spending extra dollars on gasoline and wasting time having to fill up your SUV more times than you have to. While the 2020 Kia Sorento gets very good gas mileage, it just doesn’t compare to the 2020 Chevy Equinox.
The Sorento with the 2.4L I-4 engine gets 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway when equipped with a front-wheel drivetrain, while choosing the optional all-wheel drive will reduce fuel efficiency to 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. The Sorento with the 3.3L V6 engines do even worse. The front-wheel drive Sorento with a V6 gas engine gets 19 MPG in city driving and 26 MPG on the highway, while the all-wheel drive Sorento provides only 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway.
The Equinox easily surpasses these numbers. The front-wheel drive Equinox with the 1.5-liter turbo engine gets 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway, while the one with the same engine and all-wheel drive still gets great fuel economy of 25 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. Choosing the larger 2.0-liter turbo engine still gives you better mileage than the Sorento, fully 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway with front-wheel drive and 22 MPG in city driving and 28 MPG in highway driving. This shows why having a smaller turbocharged engine gives you the same performance but with better fuel efficiency than a larger engine without a turbocharger.
Even though the 2020 Chevy Equinox is a smaller vehicle than the 2020 Kia Sorento, it actually provides better storage space overall. With all seats in use, the Equinox has a full 29.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity in its trunk. This is more than double the Sorento, which can only fit 11.3 cubic feet of cargo in its trunk. If you fold down the rear row of seats in the Equinox, you will open up a full 63.9 cubic feet of space. In order to achieve a comparable number, drivers of the Sorento will need to fold down the two back rows, providing 73 cubic feet of space. With only the third row folded down, the Sorento has 38 cubic feet of space for cargo, just slightly more than that in the trunk of the Equinox.
Both the 2020 Chevy Equinox and the 2020 Kia Sorento offer their automaker’s respective infotainment system. The Equinox comes equipped with the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System, which includes Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot all on a user-friendly 7-inch color touchscreen. The top Equinox Premier trim comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, which is also available as an option on the LT trim. Chevy also offers a built-in navigation system as an option. The Sorento features Kia’s infotainment system, which includes Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it does not include a Wi-Fi hotspot, and all trims of the Kia Sorento come with a 7-inch color touchscreen. The Kia UVO navigation system is only available on the top SX trim.
MSRP and Trims
The 2020 Chevy Equinox has a lower price point than the 2020 Kia Sorento, while the Sorento has one more trim level. The base model Equinox is the L with an MSRP of $23,800. The Equinox LS adds LED daytime running lights and Chevy’s Teen Driver technology for an MSRP of $26,300. The Equinox LT has an MSRP of $27,500 and includes heated driver and front passenger seats, power driver seat with driver lumbar support, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. The top trim is the Premier, and it includes wireless device charging, leather-appointed heated front seats, and a hands-free power liftgate. The Equinox Premier has an MSRP of $31,400.
In contrast, the base model Kia Sorento L has an MSRP of $26,990 and is equipped with the I-4 engine. The Sorento LX also has the smaller engine and adds certain active safety features for an MSRP of $28,090. The Sorento SV6 includes the bigger V6 engine and has larger wheels for an MSRP of $33,190. The EX has an MSRP of $35,490 and includes leather seat trim, a panoramic sunroof, and a smart power liftgate. The top-of-the-line Sorento SX adds a Harmon Kardon premium audio system and a number of other features for an MSRP of $40,090.
Not only is the Equinox more affordable, it also has a lower price point overall for its four trims. You can get a fully loaded Equinox Premier for only slightly more than you will pay for a Sorento LX, which is only one trim above the base L trim.
As you can see, you have two great SUVs here to choose from, but the better option is the 2020 Chevy Equinox. It will give you plenty of space for your cargo and engine power for performance, while leaving more money in your pocket both from its price tag and its fuel consumption. The sporty Equinox is ready when you are to hit the road and spend more time on it and less time in line for a gas pump.