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2021 RAV4 vs. Equinox Comparison

Since its launch in 1996, the RAV4 has defined the compact SUV segment in the U.S. Over its 25-year legacy, it has continually evolved to meet changing consumer demands, spawning hybrid and now plug-in hybrid members in its ever-growing family. The Chevrolet Equinox has not made many, if any, changes for the 2021 model year.

However, these SUVs have been consistent with producing the best fuel-efficient option for those looking for adventure. The base model Toyota RAV4 LE with FWD has an EPA-estimated mileage of 27/35/30 (city/highway/combined). The Equinox base model L with FWD has an EPA-estimated mileage of 26/31/28 (city/highway/combined). For even more impressive fuel economy, the RAV4 has a hybrid engine option. The Equinox doesn't have a hybrid option available.

Both SUVs have a plethora of safety features, too. The RAV4 has Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) standard on all models. The Equinox has many comparable safety features in a suite called Chevy Safety Assist.

Beyond what we've already discussed, let's see what else these vehicles have to offer in categories like performance, safety, and interior.

Published Date: 03/19/2021

2021 RAV4 driving on a windy dirt road


  • The RAV4 has great fuel economy estimates with its available hybrid engine.
  • For those looking to take the adventure off road, the RAV4 has features like Multi-Terrain Select to make that possible.
  • You get more standard horsepower under the hood with the RAV4.

If there is one thing Toyota is known for besides reliability, it's efficiency. The RAV4 is no different.

On and Off Road Driving

The RAV4 LE with FWD has an EPA-estimated mileage of 27/35/30 (city/highway/combined), while the Equinox L with FWD has slightly lower EPA-estimated mileage of 26/31/28 (city/highway/combined).

Taking fuel economy a step further, the 2021 RAV4 has five hybrid trims available starting with the RAV4 LE Hybrid, with an EPA-estimated mileage rating of 41/38/40 (city/highway/combined) across all RAV4 hybrid engine models. Currently, the Chevrolet Equinox lacks a hybrid trim.

As the name SUV would suggest, these sport utility vehicles not only perform well on road, but off-road as well. With available AWD on all gas models and standard Electronic On-Demand AWD on hybrid models, you'll feel confident driving through mud or snow. Plus, Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive comes standard on the RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road along with other great off-roading features, like a Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) dial with MUD & SAND, ROCK & DIRT, SNOW, and NORMAL drive modes, and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). Comparatively, the Equinox has available AWD only on the LS, LT, and Premier models.

Not to mention, the RAV4 has impressive horsepower. The standard 2.5-Liter Dynamic Force 4-Cylinder engine has 203 horsepower across all gas models. The RAV4 Hybrid models also have a combined net horsepower of 219. Looking at the Equinox's standard Turbocharged Gas I4 engine, it doesn't even compete with 170 horsepower.

Family and dog getting out of the 2021 RAV4


  • The RAV4 and Equinox have similar standard safety features, however, only the RAV4 has Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) standard.
  • You can also get more advanced driver-assistive technology, like Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) starting on the base model RAV4.
  • In addition, the RAV4 has two additional airbags.

When it comes to safety, the Toyota RAV4 has a lot of standard safety features to offer.

Standard Safety Features

With the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite, RAV4 drivers get a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA) standard. The Equinox has Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, a Following Distance Indicator, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and IntelliBeam® headlights standard with Chevy Safety Assist. Adaptive Cruise Control is only available as an optional package on the Equinox Premier.

Another useful addition for your driving safety is the available Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) offered on the RAV4 LE and LE Hybrid. This feature comes standard on the XLE and higher, however. The closest feature comparable to that on the Equinox is Lane Change Alert with Blind Zone Alert, but it's not standard on the base model Equinox L. It's available as an option on the LT trim and comes standard on the Premier.

For more traditional safety features, like airbags, the RAV4 has eight. These include a driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver's knee airbag, front passenger seat cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags. The Equinox's airbag system includes frontal airbags for driver and front passenger, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger, and head-curtain airbags for front and rear outboard seating positions. The Equinox lacks a front passenger seat cushion and driver's knee airbag.

Interior of 2021 RAV4


  • Get more connectivity options standard with the 2021 RAV4.
  • Plus, if you want an upgraded listening experience, the RAV4 Limited has 11 JBL® speakers standard.
  • Both the RAV4 Limited and Equinox Premier offer navigation, but only the RAV4 Limited has this feature without the addition of a package.

When comparing apples to apples, it's the little things that matter. Aside from safety and performance, the 2021 RAV4 has impressive standard interior features.

Audio Connectivity and Navigation

With standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, the RAV4 comes with tons of multimedia features that make for a fun ride. Plus, drivers can utilize Bluetooth® wireless technology and SiriusXM® with a 3-month All Access trial subscription. Similarly, the Equinox mentions Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, and Bluetooth® audio streaming standard. However, SiriusXM® with their 3-month All Access trial subscription is only available starting on the LT and higher. Additionally, the Equinox does not offer Amazon Alexa compatibility.

When it comes to sound systems, both the RAV4 and Equinox come with six speakers. However, when you upgrade to the RAV4 Limited, you get 11 JBL® speakers including subwoofer and amplifier standard. Or, you can get the same sound system as an available package starting on the XLE Premium. The highest model Equinox Premier only has a Bose® premium 7-speaker audio system which is only offered as part of an optional package.

If on-board navigation is important to you, you'll be happy to know that the RAV4 Limited has Dynamic Navigation standard. The Equinox Premier model only has navigation available as an option.

Three 2021 RAV4 models parked in a row

Conclusion: RAV4 vs. Equinox

  • Know you have all systems looking out for you with the RAV4's Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) package and eight airbags.
  • Stay connected with features like a SiriusXM 3-month All Access trial and Amazon Alexa standard in the RAV4.

While these vehicles have options for what SUV drivers want, there are some differences in terms of what comes standard.

For instance, the RAV4 comes standard with TSS 2.0 (TSS 2.0) which has more features than the Equinox's Chevy Safety Assist package. The RAV4 also has eight airbags, while the Equinox misses out on the front passenger seat cushion and driver's knee airbag.

The standard connectivity options vary too. Both the RAV4 and Equinox drivers can enjoy listening to their favorite music with standard Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility. However, only the RAV4 also includes Amazon Alexa and a trial of SiriusXM® at the base level.

All of these little things are what make the RAV4 so special. Get more out of your drive by taking home this winner today.