If you are considering new cars, the Equinox is out for now. The last design was very reliable but the car was redesigned for 2018. The previous redesign was 2010 so from 2014 to 2017 the cars built are among the best on the road. GM however needs about one year usually to work issues out so first model years are more troublesome. I advise against any first model year car as you are bound to face additional recalls and problems. Even the new 2018 Camry is having problems - it has already in the first four months of sales had its first recall, detaching fuel lines which can cause a fire. All built Camry's have to be brought in to be checked to see if the fuel lines are anchoring and in any case reanchor them.
The Malibu was last redesigned in 2016 and has proven to be pretty reliable out the gate (GM can get it right sometimes like Toyota, but the first year like I said you never know). It is even better in 2017. It should be a solid bet as a new car as well.
Most cars ride smoother than SUVs no matter what the brand but not always. For front seat support and comfort I don't know which is better. My advice is to try both out and see what you like. Just be aware, the Equinox is brand new so the reliablity of that is not known yet (just like the new Toyota Camry - it is probably good but you don't know until a year has passed).
Best of luck.