For the 2019 model year, the Chevrolet Equinox failed to earn any safety awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety due to a marginal headlight rating, but things look very different for the model-year 2020 version of the SUV. IIHS named the Equinox a 2019 Top Safety Pick when equipped with specific headlights.
Related: IIHS Considers Beefing Up Side-Impact Test
What prompted the change? For 2020, the Equinox comes standard with a high-beam assist system, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles. Also standard for 2020 is a front crash prevention system with automatic emergency braking, which was previously optional.
The Equinox scored good (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in all of the agency’s crashworthiness tests, and its front crash prevention system earned a superior rating (out of superior, advanced, basic or none). In track tests, IIHS said the system avoided a crash in its 12-mph test and reduced impact speed by an average of 22 mph in the agency’s 25-mph test. IIHS also said the Equinox earns an advanced rating for pedestrian front crash prevention, but the agency won’t factor such ratings into its awards until 2020. (If you’re confused why the 2020 Equinox earned a 2019 award, IIHS follows calendar years, which don’t strictly align with model years.)
On the headlight front, the Equinox is a mixed bag. IIHS awarded extra points because of the standard high-beam assist feature, which it said helped the available high-intensity-discharge projector headlights earn an acceptable rating, but the SUV’s other two headlight configurations — base halogen and available top-trim LED projector headlights — earned a marginal score, precluding the SUV from winning an award if so equipped. No headlights earned a good score, which nixed qualification for IIHS’ highest award, Top Safety Pick Plus.
The Equinox seats five and competes in the compact SUV class against the likes of the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan and 2019 Toyota RAV4, which are both Top Safety Pick Plus models. Other competitors, such as the 2020 Nissan Rogue and 2019 Honda CR-V, are Top Safety Picks. All four rivals, like the Equinox, secure their respective awards only when equipped with specific headlight configurations and, in some cases, optional crash prevention systems.
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