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Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover – Chevy Equinox/Toyota CH-R

As with these crossover SUVs, sometimes a good cover delivers a good story, sometimes it hides a bad one.

The overhauled Equinox is a quiet crossover.

(Photo: GM Heritage Center)

Chevy’s overhauled Equinox is a fresh start for the model and serious competition to the segment leaders. Riding on a new

platform, the latest Equinox is lighter by some 400 pounds, with smaller exterior dimensions than its predecessor. Still, there’s plenty of headroom, shoulder room and legroom all around.

The base model is something of a bargain considering it includes such goodies as a 4G internet hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, buyers have to move to higher trim levels if they fancy all-wheel drive, a surround-view camera or important safety features like automatic emergency braking and forward-collision alert.

The base Equinox comes with a fuel-thrifty 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. For those who want more oomph or need to tow (up to 3,500 pounds), Chevy offers 2.0-liter gasoline and 1.6-liter diesel four-cylinder engines.

Steering is light enough at low speeds, with good feedback at highway speeds, and the new chassis limits excessive body roll when the Equinox rounds a bend in the road. Chevy has paid attention to noise damping, too. The Equinox is one of the quietest crossovers around. One gripe about the interior: too much hard plastic. But overall, the new Equinox is a sweet ride.

Base Price: $25,000

MPG: 26 city, 32 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

The sporty Toyota C-HR is an eye-catching SUV.

(Photo:© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The Toyota C-HR checks most, but not all, boxes for a subcompact crossover. Its eye-catching sheet metal hints at a sporty demeanor. It corners without much body lean, the steering is sharp and nicely weighted and the ride is comfortable. But the C-HR is slow – as in 0-to-60 in 11 seconds slow – and noisy to boot. The engine groans under acceleration and a lot of noise enters the cabin.

The C-HR’s cabin is nicely styled and a suite of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, is standard, as are dual-automatic climate control and 18- inch wheels. The C-HR also gets good gas mileage and, given Toyota’s reputation for reliability, you’ll probably be able to pass it down to your grandkids.

Unfortunately, rear visibility is second-rate, cargo space with the back seats folded is subpar and the sharply sloping roofline makes it hard to get into the back seat. More disappointing is what’s missing, even as options: power seats, all-wheel drive, a sunroof, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it seem like Toyota took it out of the oven a little too soon.

Base Price: $22,000

MPG: 27 city, 31 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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