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2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2021 Kia Sorento: Which Is Better?

Both the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2021 Kia Sorento offer plenty of space and tons of amenities. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Chevrolet Equinox is the brand’s bestselling SUV.
  • The Kia Sorento is all new for 2021 and seats up to seven passengers.

2021 Chevrolet Equinox

2021 Chevrolet Equinox

Base Price: $24,995 / Read our 2021 Chevrolet Equinox Review

What we like: Low starting price; spacious interior

What we would change: More power; add a hybrid option; improve cargo space

Overview: The Chevrolet Equinox has proven to be a competent compact crossover that offers a low price of entry and solid resale value. It’s roomy for five and handles capably. Formerly the base engine, the 1.5-liter turbo-4 paired with a 6-speed automatic is now the only offering. It’s no barn-burner with 170 horsepower and has EPA estimates of 28 mpg combined (FWD) or 27 mpg (AWD).

What’s new for 2021: A new Leather Package for the LT includes perforated leather upholstery in Jet Black, memory settings for the power driver’s seat, an auto-dimming inside mirror, and heated and auto-dimming outside mirrors. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder has been dropped.

Features and technology: The 2021 Chevrolet Equinox is offered in L, LS, LT, and Premier trims. The LT can be dressed up with the blacked-out Midnight Edition or the Sport Edition, while the Premier offers a Redline Edition appearance package. Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and automatic high-beams are standard. Blind-spot monitoring is optional. All trims come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, available Wi-Fi, and four USB ports. A user-friendly 8-inch unit with optional navigation is available. The top-spec Premier includes a hands-free power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, and LED exterior lighting.

What does the future hold: A update for the Equinox is coming for 2022 and sees revised front and rear styling as well as the addition of a sporty new RS trim. See 2021 Chevrolet Equinox models for sale near you.

2021 Kia Sorento

2021 Kia Sorento

Base Price: $29,000  / Read our 2021 Kia Sorento Review

What we like: Tons of passenger space; variety of engine options including a hybrid and PHEV (coming in late 2021); optional captain’s chairs in the second row; great warranty

What we would change: Bring back the V6 engine; increase towing capacity; offer an AWD hybrid

Overview: The Kia Sorento is a compact crossover that offers ample interior space for up to seven passengers (six when outfitted with the captain’s chairs in the second row.) It comes with a variety of powertrains, including a turbocharged 2.5-liter. A hybrid and plug-in hybrid option is available too. AWD is also offered, but you can’t get it on the hybrid versions.

What’s new for 2021: The Kia Sorento is totally new for 2021, based on a stronger and lighter chassis with a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase. Initially, the new Sorento will be offered as an LX, S, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige, each available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The Kia Sorento PHEV is expected to arrive sometime early next year, also as a 2021 model.

One of the most significant new 2021 Sorentos is the X-Line SX-Prestige AWD, a premium model bristling with technology and improved off-road ability. With its inch-higher ride height and locking center differential, the X-Line will be a little more at home on the dirt, and its looks are distinguished by some unique styling details, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a bridge-type roof rack.

Features and technology: At the base level, the 2021 Kia Sorento LX 2.5 is a FWD model with the 2.5-liter engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, and LED headlamps. Inside, there’s cloth seat trim, a 4.2-inch digital instrument binnacle, an 8-inch touchscreen, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Step up the trim lines to get things like 18-inch alloy wheels and special GT-Line bumpers with black accents.

The most affordable turbocharged new Sorento is the EX 2.5T. Besides the 2.5-liter turbo engine and an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Sorento EX 2.5 T is a front-drive model equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, second-row captain’s chairs, smart cruise control, and an electronic parking brake. The Sorento SX 2.5T has the same powertrain but adds 20-inch alloy wheels. LED projector headlamps, a panoramic roof, and a 10.25-inch navigation and audio screen.

Next up, the Kia Sorento SX Prestige 2.5T is also a front-driver, this luxurious Sorento is fitted with leather seat trim, vented front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a large 12.3-inch infotainment screen. It also has the handy Blind View Monitor for a 360-degree view that’s most helpful in tight parking lots.

An even more opulent Sorento is called the SX Prestige X-Line 2.5T. This dirt-tuned AWD Sorento comes with everything on the standard Prestige, but it’s slightly raised and has a locking center differential as well as Drive Mode Select. This model is distinguished visually by silver bumpers with molded-in skidplates, black and chrome exterior trim, and black roof rails.

The new Sorento S 1.6T Hybrid and EX 1.6T Hybrid models are FWD offerings with 17-inch alloy wheels, second-row captain’s chairs, a rotary dial shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Syntex interior fabric. The EX is further distinguished by smart cruise control and a panoramic roof. Last, there’s the upcoming new Kia Sorento PHEV, which arrives sometime in 2021. Equipped with the turbo 1.6-liter gas engine, a 66.9-kW electric motor, and a larger battery, this plug-in hybrid Sorento is an AWD model with an expected electric-only range of 30 miles. We expect the Sorento PHEV to be well-equipped.

Kia doesn’t skimp on the safety or technology options either. Even at the base, you get Kia’s suite of safety equipment, including a forward-collision warning system and automatic emergency braking that senses not just cars but also pedestrians and cyclists. Also standard: a driver-attention warning that sends audible and visual warnings if it senses the driver getting sleepy. You even get a rear occupant alarm across the entire line up so that you don’t forget a child or pet in the back.

What does the future hold: The Sorento is all-new this year, so we expect some light refreshes going forward. See the 2021 Kia Sorento models for sale near you

Equinox vs. Sorento: Strengths comparison

Chevrolet Equinox benefits: Lower starting price; user-friendly infotainment system

Kia Sorento benefits: More powertrain options; better warranty

2021 Chevrolet Equinox vs. 2021 Kia Sorento: Which is better?

The 2021 Chevrolet Equinox has a budget-friendly starting price bolstered by good resale value.  A roomy interior for five and user-friendly infotainment are plusses. The 2021 Kia Sorento is an excellent option if you need to carry more than five passengers and are looking for something with a variety of engines. For our money, we’d go with the Sorento.  See 2021 Chevrolet Equinox models for sale or See 2021 Kia Sorento models for sale

Popular Powertrains 2021 Chevrolet Equinox 2021 Kia Sorento
Engine 1.5-liter turbo I-4 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 170 hp  at 5,600 rpm 191 hp at 6,100 rpm
Torque 203 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm 181 lb ft at 4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (26 city/31 highway) 26 mpg (24 city/29 highway)
Also Available AWD AWD, Hybrid, Plug-in hybrid, Turbocharged 4-cylinder
Basic warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/ 60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/ 100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 stars NA
Max Seating Capacity 5 7
Wheelbase 107.3 inches 110.8 inches
Overall Length 183.1 inches 189.0 inches
Width 72.6 inches 74.8 inches
Height 65.4 inches 66.7 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 40.3 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.5 inches 39.1 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 41.4 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.7 inches 29.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.2 inches 59.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.5 inches 58.1 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 103 cubic feet NA
EPA Cargo Volume 29.9/63.9 cubic feet 38.5 cubic feet/75.5 cubic feet

Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett is a freelance journalist based in L.A. and she's covered automotive topics for a variety of well-known outlets including Fortune, Forbes, CNN and Motor Trend. She's also a television and video host and regularly covers breaking news, social justice, technology, health and wellness, and science in addition to her car coverage. When she's not working on her next project she's... Read More about Abigail Bassett

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