Car Comparison

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

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2015

If you can't decide between a compact and a midsize crossover, one option to consider is a vehicle that straddles both segments. The 2015 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2015 GMC Terrain, for example, are a little larger than most other compact SUVs. These models are mechanical twins, offering differences on the surface but a lot of similarities underneath. So what sets these two SUVs apart? And which one is better for you? We've created a close comparison to round up all the key differences -- and similarities -- between the Equinox and the Terrain.

Exterior

On the outside, it would be hard to mistake the Terrain for the Equinox. In fact, it's hard to imagine two mechanical twins that look any more different than these two. While the Equinox offers soft, flowing lines like most traditional crossovers, the Terrain has a bulky, brawny look that's commonly seen in off-roaders and full-size SUVs. The only exterior similarity these two crossovers share is length, as each is roughly the same size.

Interior

Despite major differences on the outside, the Equinox and Terrain offer a lot of similarities on the inside. Many items are identical, including the center control stack, the steering wheel, the shift lever, the door handles and most of the switchgear. Interior room is the same, too, as these cars share an identical cabin layout. The only differences are some slight changes in the dashboard design and a few more upscale materials in the high-end Terrain Denali.

Mechanicals

The Terrain and the Equinox offer the same powertrains. Base models use a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, which offers up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway in either SUV. Drivers who want more power can upgrade to the optional 3.6-liter V6, which touts a muscular 301 hp and up to 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy in both SUVs.

Features & Technology

The Equinox and Terrain are almost identical when it comes to equipment and technology, with only a few minor exceptions. Those exceptions are primarily found in the high-end Terrain Denali model, which offers a few features the Equinox doesn't -- including a standard blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, and an optional dual-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Terrain Denali also offers some interior materials, such as a partial wood steering wheel and upscale dashboard stitching, that the Equinox doesn't have available in any trim level.

Otherwise, these two crossovers are largely the same. You can get an infotainment system (called MyLink in the Chevy and IntelliLink in the GMC, but largely identical in function), a remote starter, heated front seats, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and typical comfort and convenience options such as automatic climate control, leather upholstery and a power rear liftgate.

Driving Experience

On the road, there are few differences between the Equinox and the Terrain. The driving experience in both SUVs is dramatically tailored more toward comfort than precision, with the Terrain and Equinox offering floaty suspensions and surprisingly numb steering -- even for an SUV. Some drivers will like that, while others who prefer a more precise and responsive driving experience will want to shop elsewhere.

The drawback to the "almost-midsize" sizing of the Terrain and Equinox is found under the hood. While most compact crossovers are just fine with a 4-cylinder engine (examples include the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4), the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain aren't. Due to greater heft, the Equinox and Terrain feel underpowered with their 4-cylinder engines, leaving us wanting the rather thirsty V6.

Safety

In government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Equinox and the Terrain earned an average 4-star overall rating. Both crossovers also earned the coveted Top Safety Pick designation from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As for safety features, both the Terrain and Equinox are well-equipped, with standard items ranging from side-curtain airbags to GM's helpful OnStar system. Options are also generous for compact SUVs, as both lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning are included. But the Terrain comes with a few more safety items, including a standard backup camera (it's optional in the Equinox), and available blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which aren't offered in the Equinox.

Interestingly, this is one of the few points where these SUVs really differ, aside from their styling -- so if you want the most safety equipment you can get, you'll probably want to choose a Terrain due to its array of optional safety features.

Conclusions

If you're looking for major differences between the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2015 GMC Terrain, you probably won't spot any -- except in one area: exterior styling. Oh, sure, there are a few different safety features here and a few trim level differences there, but these two models are virtually identical. Both tout the same driving experience, powertrains, crash-test scores and fuel economy ratings. If you're interested in these two SUVs, the only question you'll have to ask yourself is whether you want the more traditionally styled Equinox or the brawny, boldly styled Terrain.

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Used 2015 GMC Terrain FWD SLE
Used 2015 GMC Terrain
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Used 2015 GMC Terrain AWD SLT
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Used 2015 GMC Terrain FWD SLE
Used 2015 GMC Terrain
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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 GMC Terrain vs. 2015 Chevrolet Equinox: What's the Difference? - Autotrader