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2015 Chevrolet Trax vs. 2015 Chevrolet Equinox: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2015

If you're in the market for a small SUV, you've probably noticed that Chevrolet offers two of them: the Trax and the Equinox. A quick glance at some specs will tell you that the Trax is a little smaller than the Equinox -- but are there any other differences between these two models? We've created a close comparison to help you find out exactly that, so you can decide whether the 2015 Chevrolet Trax or the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox is better for your lifestyle.

Exterior

On the outside, the Trax and Equinox certainly bear some similarities -- but there are major differences, too. The primary resemblance is in front, where the Trax and Equinox share a grille design, a headlight shape and large front fenders that give the SUVs a muscular look. But from there back, the Trax and Equinox are seriously different. Not only is the Trax clearly a lot smaller than the Equinox, but the Equinox offers more rounded, mainstream styling compared to the Trax's boxier look. The Equinox also features a unique angled C-pillar design, which isn't shared by the Trax.

Interior

The Trax and the Equinox also have some serious differences on the inside. The most obvious is, once again, size, as the Equinox is a lot larger than the Trax -- both in the back seat and in the cargo area. And while the styling of the dashboard and the center control stack is roughly the same, there's no doubt that the Trax offers lower-grade materials and more of a cheerful, subcompact car feel than its more mainstream Equinox stablemate. With that said, the two crossovers share a few interior items, from the steering wheel and the gauge cluster to the shift lever and Chevrolet's MyLink display screen. As a result, we think anyone familiar with an Equinox would have no trouble finding their way around a Trax, and vice versa.

Mechanicals

Not surprisingly, the different engines available in the Equinox and Trax also highlight their size differences. More specifically, the Equinox offers larger engines than the Trax -- even if you compare the Equinox's base-level powerplant to the Trax's sole engine offering.

The Equinox is available with two engines. Base models use a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic; it returns up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg highway with front-wheel drive or 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with optional AWD. Drivers looking for more power can get a brawny 301-hp 3.6-liter V6, which returns 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with optional AWD.

The Trax, meanwhile, offers just one engine: a tiny 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Gas mileage is 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive, or 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with optional AWD. That's not much better than the 4-cylinder Equinox, largely because that engine seems a little overworked in the Trax.

Features & Technology

When it comes to equipment, the inexpensive Trax lags behind its pricier Equinox stablemate in several key areas. For instance, while the Equinox offers leather upholstery, the nicest Trax LTZ model comes only with "leatherette" premium vinyl. The Equinox offers memory settings for the driver seat position, while the Trax doesn't. The Equinox offers a chrome alloy wheel option, which you can't get in the Trax. The Equinox offers lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert, which aren't offered in the Trax -- and the list continues. Exactly how much these differences will influence your decision depends on whether you prioritize more equipment or lower prices. For drivers who want more stuff, the Equinox is the way to go.

Driving Experience

Four-cylinder versions of both the Trax and the Equinox are sluggish, though we think the Trax takes the cake for the most lethargic performance of all. By comparison, the Equinox's V6 is downright powerful, giving you a "king of the road" driving experience when you're trying to speed up a highway on-ramp or even make a quick lane change after a red light.

As for maneuverability, these two offer exactly the differences you might expect: the Equinox is less nimble but more secure, while the Trax is more maneuverable -- especially at low speeds -- but also less planted and solid than its Equinox stablemate. Drivers who spend a lot of time on the highway may prefer the more stable Equinox, while city-dwelling drivers who often find themselves trying to fit into parking spaces may instead appreciate the Trax's tiny dimensions.

Safety

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash testing, the Chevrolet Equinox earned a 4-star overall score out of a possible five stars. Meanwhile, the newer Trax earned a perfect 5-star score. The difference came in frontal-crash protection, where the Equinox earned 4 stars to the Trax's 5.

In testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), both the Trax and the Equinox earned excellent "Top Safety Pick" ratings -- though both models fell just short of the firm's highest "Top Safety Pick+" score because they lack automatic forward-collision braking systems.

As for safety features, the Equinox has a huge benefit over the Trax. Both come standard with just about everything you'll need, like side-curtain airbags, traction and stability control, and GM's OnStar system. The two SUVs also share optional parking sensors and an available backup camera. But the Equinox pulls ahead when it comes to options, offering forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning -- neither of which you can get in the Trax.

Conclusions

The 2015 Chevrolet Trax and the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox are more than just "large" and "small" versions of the same car. Instead, these two models offer a lot of major differences, from engine sizing and styling to interior design, driving experience and equipment. We think of it like this: the Trax is a great SUV for drivers who want a city-friendly subcompact car with an SUV-like style and driving position, while the Equinox has a broader appeal whether you're in the city, the suburbs or the country. The Equinox also offers more equipment and a more comfortable ride, which may be important to shoppers interested in a more luxurious vehicle.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Chevrolet Trax vs. 2015 Chevrolet Equinox: What's the Difference? - Autotrader