Is The Chevy Equinox AWD? [The Answer May Surprise You!]

Thinking of buying a Chevy Equinox and not sure if it has AWD? Click to find out all about the Chevrolet AWD system, which Equinox models have it and which don't.

Looking for your next crossover vehicle? As you compare viable options, you might wonder if the Chevy Equinox has an all-wheel drive. We looked closer at Chevy's 2020 and 2019 Equinox to understand this crossover's unique AWD feature. 

The Chevy Equinox comes standard as a front-wheel-drive (FWD) crossover vehicle. For the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox, the AWD feature is available as an option for these trim levels -

  • LT
  • LS
  • Premier

AWD is not available for the most basic L trim level. In other words, anything from Chevrolet Equinox LT and above can come in either an AWD or FWD version.

Now that the Chevy Equinox has caught your attention as an AWD crossover wait! See how Chevy's unique 'part-time' all-wheel-drive system can benefit your driving patterns.

And, if you are still wavering between AWD versus 4WD crossover features, the Chevy Equinox's L4 gear mode might entice you. It keeps this crossover moving steadily during precarious road conditions.

Technical Specifications of the Chevy Equinox

To ensure the accuracy of the information provided about the Chevy Equinox, we have cross-referenced the technical details with official Chevrolet resources and consulted automotive experts. Here's what we've verified:

  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System: The Chevy Equinox features a part-time AWD system, allowing the driver to engage and disengage the AWD as needed. This system provides better traction in various driving conditions while maintaining fuel efficiency.
  • Towing Capacity: The towing capacity of the Chevy Equinox varies depending on the engine type. Models equipped with the 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder engine have a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, while those with the 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
  • Fuel Efficiency: The fuel efficiency of the Chevy Equinox also varies based on the drivetrain. The front-wheel-drive models have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive models see a slight decrease in fuel efficiency, approximately one mpg less, but offer enhanced traction and handling in low-traction situations.

These specifications have been confirmed through Chevrolet's official resources and expert opinions, ensuring that our readers receive the most accurate and up-to-date information about the Chevy Equinox.

Understanding AWD vs. 4WD in the Chevy Equinox

While discussing the Chevy Equinox's drivetrain options, it's crucial to clarify the differences between All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) systems, as they cater to different driving needs and conditions.

  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD): The AWD system, available in the Chevy Equinox, is designed for on-road use and provides enhanced traction in various driving conditions, including wet or slippery roads. It operates by automatically distributing power to all four wheels as needed, which can improve handling and safety. The Equinox's part-time AWD system allows the driver to engage or disengage AWD, contributing to fuel efficiency.
  • Four-Wheel Drive (4WD): 4WD systems, often found in off-road or heavy-duty vehicles, are engineered for challenging terrain and off-road conditions. They typically include high and low gearing options, providing significant torque for demanding situations like rock crawling or mud traversing. Unlike AWD, 4WD systems are usually manually engaged by the driver and are better suited for low-speed, rugged terrain rather than everyday driving conditions.

Understanding these distinctions is key to choosing the right vehicle for your driving habits and the conditions you frequently encounter.

brand new model metallic blue glossy chevy equinox on the chevrolet showroom, Is-The-Chevy-Equinox-AWD-[The-Answer-May-Surprise-You!]

Chevy Equinox AWD

Chevy's AWD system in Equinox is a "part-time" system, which allows the driver to engage the AWD feature as needed. Unlike a full-time AWD system that is always active, the part-time system in Equinox allows the driver to switch between front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD). This adaptability is particularly beneficial for varying road conditions and can improve fuel efficiency. When the AWD is not engaged, the Equinox operates in FWD mode, conserving fuel. This makes the Equinox an efficient choice for those who encounter occasional rough weather or road conditions but primarily drive in situations where FWD is adequate.

As road conditions change for all-wheel-drive equipped models, the driver can engage the AWD feature for better traction and responsive handling. Once engaged, the all-wheel-drive feature will function on demand to adjust traction control by dynamically distributing power among all four wheels. It directs more power to the wheels with better traction and reduces power to those slipping, enhancing stability and control, especially in slippery conditions.

The benefit of a part-time system is increased fuel efficiency. When the AWD is disengaged, the Equinox performs in front-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive Equinox has an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 30 mpg highway fuel efficiency rating. All-wheel drive Equinox models see approximately 1 mpg decreased fuel efficiency but can immediately power through low traction situations.

What Is an Automatic AWD System?

brand new red metallic glossy chevy equinox awd

Most cars and crossovers that are equipped with AWD use an automatic system. Automatic all-wheel drive is engaged all the time. An automated all-wheel-drive system uses digital sensors on the vehicle's wheels to monitor traction. When sensors detect a loss of traction, the system automatically transfers power to the wheels that slip.

The advantage of automatic AWD systems is that the vehicle can react immediately to changes in traction without driver intervention. Automatic AWD systems instantly provide better traction and handling stability.

Does Equinox Come in 4-Wheel Drive?

The Chevy Equinox is equipped with L4 and L2 driving modes. The L4 model refers to 'low-speed 4-wheel drive.' The L2 style refers to 'low-speed 2-wheel drive.' These driving modes would not be used under normal driving conditions, but as surface conditions change, L4 or L2 can be engaged to improve traction. These low-speed gears transfer more power to either all four or front wheels. The L4 and L2 driving modes can be useful during towing on steep inclines on slippery, muddy, or rough road surfaces.

If using the low-speed 4-wheel drive on an all-wheel-drive equipped Equinox, it is essential to understand that L4 will disengage the AWD feature. The L4 gear will drive all four wheels. Once L4 is disconnected, the AWD will resume if engaged, or FWD will resume. Low-speed gears are intended for prolonged slow speeds during wet or slippery surface conditions.

How Do You Turn On All-Wheel-Drive In A Chevy Equinox?

glossy white paint chevy equinox ls version

Press the 'AWD' button near the shifter to engage the all-wheel-drive feature. Once engaged, a notification light will appear on the driver's information display to let you know AWD is in action.

To disengage the all-wheel-drive feature, press the 'AWD' button. The light indicator on the driver information display will turn off, letting you know the all-wheel-drive function is disengaged.

Do You Need AWD in the Snow?

Using all-wheel drive in the snow is a question of personal preference and driving experience. A front-wheel-drive vehicle performs well in the snow; however, AWD will provide additional traction.

Most importantly, remember to stay alert while driving in snow. Slow your vehicle's speed and increase the distance between other vehicles. All-wheel drive will not prevent your vehicle from slipping in icy conditions. Driving with caution can help to avoid an unexpected slide and keep your vehicle under control.

What Is the Towing Capacity of an AWD Chevy Equinox?

Towing capacity for the Chevy Equinox, whether standard front-wheel drive or equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive feature, depends on the engine you choose. The 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder engine can tow a maximum capacity of 1,500 pounds (680 kg). An Equinox equipped with the 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine can pull a maximum capacity of 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg).

What Other Crossovers Offer the 'Part-Time' Awd Feature?

2 chevy equinox parked on the car parking lot outside the mall

The Equinox offers standard drivetrain capabilities compared to other small SUVs. Most crossovers offer an optional all-wheel-drive feature, yet not all are designed as part-time systems. Only a few crossovers have all-wheel-drive systems similar to Chevy's Equinox. These AWD systems require the driver to intervene to select performance calibration.

The GMC Terrain offers an optional Traction Select AWD feature. Like Equinox's part-time all-wheel drive, the Terrain's Traction Select feature lets the driver select performance calibration with a simple push of a button. The GMC Terrain's traction options include FWD, AWD, or AWD with additional sport, off-road, or towing traction.

The Hyundai Tucson offers an optional AWD 'lock' feature. The Tucson's AWD works as an automatic system during normal driving conditions. The AWD lock feature is intended for slow driving speeds during off-road, muddy, or slippery conditions. Like the Equinox's L4 gear mode, the driver gains control at the touch of a button. The driver can lock all four wheels into AWD mode by engaging the AWD lock feature. All four wheels will receive power until the lock mode is unlocked by pressing the button again.

As you can see, the AWD feature available on the Chevy Equinox can be handy for safe maneuvering. It can also be cost-effective in terms of Equinox's fuel efficiency. Discussing AWD among crossovers raises several topics regarding vehicle performance and driver control. Check out VEHQ's additional resources to learn about the Chevy Equinox and all-wheel drive features, among other crossovers.

Buying a used Chevy Equinox?

While many people look for brand new Chevy (including the awesome 2020 Chevy Bolt!), the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) on a new vehicle may be problematic. Buying a new car is always more expensive than buying used, both in the retail price and the added license dealer fees. There could even be a charge for transporting the new vehicle to your area (destination freight charge).

Buying a used Chevy Equinox can be a great way to enjoy a car without breaking the bank. But do these Chevy's have AWD?

According to our research, similarly to the 2021 Chevy Equinox, many 2018, 2019, and 2020 Equinox models also have AWD as an optional AWD feature.  It's available for

  • LS 1.5L Turbo
  • LT 1.5L Turbo
  • LT 1.6L Turbo Diesel
  • LT 2.0L Turbo
  • Premier 1.5L Turbo
  • Premier 1.6L Turbo Diesel
  • Premier 2.0L Turbo

Learn more about the Chevy Equinox!

brand new model metallic blue glossy chevy equinox on the chevrolet showroom

We hope this guide has given you all you need to know about the Chevy Equinox's AWD vs FWD capabilities. Considering buying a Chevrolet Equinox now? Check out these articles, too -

How Much Horsepower Does The Chevy Equinox Have?

Chevy Equinox: What Models & Trim Levels Are Available?

Is the Chevy Equinox AWD (All-Wheel-Drive)?

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  1. Your article on the AWD system states “Once engaged, the all-wheel-drive feature will function on demand to adjust traction control by transferring power to the wheels that slip.”

    My question is how does the vehicle move forward when the power is shifted to the wheels that are slipping? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Hi Bill! Thank you for your insightful question about the AWD system in the Chevy Equinox. The statement in the article might seem counterintuitive at first, but here’s a clearer explanation:

      When an AWD system is engaged, it doesn’t just transfer power to the wheels that are slipping; it dynamically distributes power among all four wheels to optimize traction. The system detects which wheels have the best grip and sends more power to those wheels while reducing power to the ones slipping. A computer often controls this process and involves a central clutch that allows for differences in the speed of the front and rear wheels, making it suitable for on-road use.

      In simpler terms, the AWD system in vehicles like the Chevy Equinox helps maintain control and stability by ensuring that the wheels with the most traction receive more power. This is particularly useful in slippery or rough road conditions.

      For a more detailed understanding, watch this explanatory video on how AWD works: “How Does AWD Work?” It provides an in-depth look at the mechanics of an AWD system using the ATTESA AWD system from a 2006 Infiniti G35X Sedan as an example.

  2. Where is the button for part time AWD? Is it the button on the left side of the actual gear shifter? Where your thumb rests when holding the shifter “handle”?

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