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The term “compact crossover” applies to an incredibly large array of vehicles, from virtually all manufacturers and across nearly all price points. Among the larger compact crossovers on the market today are the Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC Terrain, both of which deliver plenty of room, outstanding safety scores and solid value for the money.

Of the two, the Chevrolet Equinox is styled more conservatively, and is therefore more likely to appeal to mainstream buyers. Its rounded front end gives it the look of a friendly cartoon character, and only the distinctive and steeply-raked C-pillar make the Equinox stand out in the crowd. The GMC Terrain, on the other hand, looks nothing like its cross-division rival. Playing on GMC’s image as a company that builds trucks, not cars, the Terrain is injected with more than a little testosterone in its styling. The proportions are chunkier, and there’s nothing cute about the Terrain’s front end. The fenders feature oversized (and oddly squared) flares, and everything about the Terrain says “SUV,” not “crossover.” If we were inclined to stereotype, we’d say that female shoppers will be drawn to the Equinox, with male buyers favoring the Terrain.

Since both vehicles come from General Motors, powertrains are common between them. The most fuel efficient engine choice is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which produces 182 horsepower and delivers up to 32 mpg on the highway in either vehicle. This is probably a reasonable choice for most buyers, either in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but those who need the ability to tow a light trailer will probably want to choose the 3.0-liter V-6. This engine delivers 264 horsepower and the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, but fuel economy drops to 25 mpg highway in front-drive models and 24 mpg in AWD versions.

Inside, both vehicles deliver a comfortable interior with upright seating for a commanding view of the road ahead. There’s plenty of headroom, even for rear seat passengers, and a reasonable amount of legroom, too. Ride quality is good in either vehicle, and both can be equipped to near-luxury levels of content with features like touchscreen infotainment systems, leather upholstery, voice command navigation and premium audio systems. The cabin of both vehicles is remarkably quiet, too, especially given their blue-collar roots and affordable price tags.

Safety is a primary focus for both the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox and the 2012 GMC Terrain. Both have been chosen as Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and both can be configured with options like a rearview camera and blind spot detection systems. Opt for higher trim models, and both can be equipped with forward collision alert and lane departure warning, features found only on high-end luxury sedans just a few years back. Both, however, suffer from the same styling-related flaw: thick C-pillars create substantial blind spots, requiring careful adjustment of the side view mirrors for safety.

If both models offer a similar array of features, at a similar price point, with identical safety ratings, how can we pick a winner? The answer is that we can’t, which essentially means that consumers win by choosing either vehicle. If you’re drawn to the blocky styling of the GMC, we’re sure you’ll be happy with your choice. Opt for the toned-down lines of the Chevrolet Equinox, and you won’t be disappointed, either.

Chevrolet Equinox Vs. GMC Terrain: Compare Cars
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