2014 Chevrolet Equinox Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 20, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is every bit as solid, spacious, and well-equipped as cost-conscious families could expect -- and far more quiet and refined than many other models without a luxury badge.

The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox offers up plenty of what matters to parents and families—like flexible seating and cargo space, plus impressive maneuverability and reasonably good fuel efficiency.

Size it up for a moment, and you won't be surprised why vehicles like it have become the family sedans of today. And among all the compact (to mid-size) crossovers, the 2014 Equinox is one of the better picks; whether purposed for carpool duty, weekend family getaways, or commuting and errands, it's fully up for such versatile use—with an affordable price, a spacious interior, plenty of safety and tech features, and more refinement than you might expect.

With crisp, somewhat sporty styling, and proportions that line up partway between Chevy's trucks and cars, the Equinox looks like it should: handsome but inoffensive. Inside, the look is a little jazzier, with vents flanking the radio and climate controls and more of the look that Chevrolet cars have recently been given.

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Our recommendation for most Equinox shoppers remains the fuel-efficient (and lower cost) four-cylinder models. With 182 horsepower, the 2.4-liter four idles smoothly, albeit with a somewhat clattery direct-injection sound, and once underway it's agreeable and unobtrusive. The combination comes with a stellar 32-mpg highway rating, too. The Equinox doesn't track as confidently on the highway as we'd like, but this is first and foremost a family vehicle. Yes, the 3.6-liter V-6 is strong and smooth, but it's also far thirstier in real-world driving -- and frankly more than most cost-conscious moms and dads are going to need.

The 2014 Chevy Equinox feels designed for the ins and outs of family use, from the seating layout to the up-close details. There's an excellent carlike driving position, while the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather in top LTZ models feels quite luxurious. Back seats have enough space for two adults to sprawl out into, with decent legroom, and the seatbacks are adjustable for rake. And there's space for smaller items, weekend finds, and grocery bags between the two deep cargo wells in back, the deep center console, the retractable cargo cover, and stretchy net.

The Equinox has been a consistent top performer in crash-tests and safety ratings. It hasn't yet been tested in the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small overlap frontal test, but it's been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick and it's earned top four- and five-star results from the federal government. Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox, a rearview camera system is offered in most models, and lane departure warning and forward collision warning alert systems are standard in the LTZ and optional on the LT. Unfortunately neither of those systems completely makes up for one Equinox inadequacy: The thick rear pillar can make outward visibility challenging.

Considering its very affordable pricing, the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox has a very impressive set of the features that matter to price-conscious parents. There's a solid, effective set of connectivity and infotainment features, plenty of traditional convenience features thrown in, and even some optional high-tech active-safety features if you're willing to add a little to the bill. GM includes a touch-screen audio system with a USB port across most of the lineup, and the voice-activated, touch-screen-based MyLink Connectivity system is an option. The MyLink package includes smartphone connectivity, integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls.

For 2014, the Equinox LTZ model gets new chrome-clad wheels, while there are a couple of new exterior colors for the lineup.

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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Styling

The interior of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is quite carlike, but you can see just a bit of influence from Chevy trucks on the outside.

In short, the design and styling of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox aren't particularly edgy, but the look is what it needs to be considering the family-oriented mission.

Taking the whole design in from the outside, the Equinox impresses as a sort of scaled-down version of the big Chevrolet Traverse three-row crossover. If anything, the Equinox is just a little chunkier, with perhaps just a little more hints from Chevy's trucks filtering into the more upright flanks. That said, the Equinox design looks more car than truck, ultimately, and it still fits in well alongside the brand's sedans, with nicely done proportions and sharp, careful detailing.

The spacing of the headlights next to the grille help it look a bit like a tall station wagon from some angles, while edgy details over a rounded tail do help the Equinox stand out in a pack of look-alike crossover choices.

The interior of the 2014 Equinox isn't quite as in pace with the rest of the Chevy lineup; it's a little overt, and a different variation on the theme, but it fits well with the exterior. The center stack of the instrument panel, with its vents neatly flanking and framing central controls, bears some likeness to that of the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze--and also to that of the Cadillac SRX.

The 2014 model year brings two new colors--Red Rock Metallic and Silver Topaz Metallic--and chrome-clad wheels are newly standard on top LTZ models.

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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Performance

Don't expect much excitement behind the wheel of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox; but even the base four-cylinder model performs respectably.

Although some compact crossovers have moved on to all-four-cylinder models, the Equinox still gives shoppers a choice between four-cylinder and V-6 engines. The Equinox is a bit larger than many so-called compacts, and it's essentially a modest mid-sizer. But even considering that, the base four-cylinder engine is plenty strong to move the Equinox along at a good clip.

The base 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is one of the more advanced engines in its class, and with direct injection, variable valve timing, and a six-speed automatic, you can get quite a bit of real-world performance out of it--more than the 0-60 mph time of around nine seconds might suggest. Passing power is good enough even when you have some passengers; and our only issue with this engine is that its direct-injection-related clattering sounds are more prominent than in most other modern fours.

The engine choice, along with a choice between front- and all-wheel drive, should give most shoppers what they want for their family needs. And if they need some added grunt for full loads and mountain grades, the 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth and very strong. It makes 301 hp; and while it's considerably thirstier than the four, you might consider it a worthwhile upgrade.

With a rather low first gear, for quick takeoffs, plus taller cogs for the upper gears and highway fuel efficiency, the six-speed automatic transmission covers the bases--although it's not as smooth as in other vehicles in this class. With either version, shifts can be rough, and the transmission can feel hesitant on hills or on-off throttle situations. Manual shifts can be made not though steering wheel paddle shifters or a separate gate, but through little plus or minus toggle buttons on the side of the shift knob.

You won't find the Equinox all that much fun to drive, but it handles well enough for what it is; the electric power steering is a low point--just too numb and light--and we've noted over several drives that on the highway you're making too many adjustments.

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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Comfort & Quality

The 2014 Equinox is by no means a luxury model, but families will find it right on message for comfort and versatility.

The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is about the right size for most families--provided you don't need a third-row seat. Most will appreciate the spacious interior of this vehicle, which is a half step larger than most compact models while being far more manageable than the much larger Chevy Traverse.

Front seating, as well as the driving position in the Equinox, are excellent. We like the upright, supportive setup no matter what, but the cross-stitched dual-tone perforated leather on upscale LTZ have an added luxury look and feel. In back, there's adult-size space, including good headroom, a seatback that's adjustable for rake, and decent legroom.

The level of cabin refinement and quiet in the Equinox is perhaps closer to Buick or Cadillac standards, so you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to a clever noise cancellation system that actively helps eliminate coarse sounds and even mild vibrations, four-cylinder models feel nearly as quiet and refined as V-6 models once you're underway (you do head the clatter of the four a bit more at idle). Wind noise is well shut out, with triple door seals and glass with integral sound damping.

Ride quality is good too, and there's plenty of stow space for larger and smaller items, which altogether makes the Equinox a good family vehicle for highway trips and vacations. A retractable cargo cover, stretchy net, and two deep cargo wells all help keep items in place and out of site, and there's a deep center console for electronics and purses. The only downside, we think, is that the cargo floor is just a little too high--or at least higher than we might expect.

Cabin and materials and trims are, with a few exceptions, far from bargain-basement--although a few odd bargain-bin details here and there let it down. While we're fans of cloth seating, generally, we're not so fond of the base seating in the Equinox. And there are a few too many things right in sight of the driver--like the thin, jagged, plastichrome trim at the edge of the storage bin, front and center--that remind you this definitely isn't a Cadillac.

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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Safety

The Equinox is one of the safer picks in its class; just consider outward visibility as some might find it limited.

The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox has a great set of safety credentials, as verified by impressive crash-test ratings; but outward visibility is one thing that keeps us from calling it the safest pick for everyone.

As far as occupant protection goes, the Equinox has a great reputation. Crash-test results for the Equinox have been good. In the federal government's all-new crash-test and ratings system, the Equinox earned four stars overall, with a four-star score in frontal impact and five stars in the side test. In addition, it achieved top five-star results in NHTSA's tough new side-pole test. And in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the Equinox achieved top 'good' test scores in all categories (with Top Safety Pick+ status).

Four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, head-curtain side airbags, and pelvic/thorax seat-mounted bags are all included as standard equipment in the Equinox. So are GM's OnStar emergency and concierge services. A rearview camera system is included in all models LT and above, and that helps with the low-speed situations. Lane departure warning and forward collision warning alert systems (though still not a blind-spot system) are available more widely on four-cylinder and V-6 models, and standard in the LTZ.

Unfortunately neither of those systems completely makes up for one Equinox inadequacy: outward visibility. Depending on your height and driving position, you might find the rather thick rear pillar to be in the way when changing lanes. The large blind-spot mirrors do help a bit, but definitely pay attention to this on the test drive.
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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Features

The advanced connectivity and active-safety features on offer in the 2014 Equinox are a step better than those found in some other Chevrolet .

Considering its very affordable pricing, the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox has a very impressive set of the features that matter to price-conscious parents. There's a solid, effective set of connectivity and infotainment features, plenty of traditional convenience features thrown in, and even some optional high-tech active-safety features if you're willing to add a little to the bill.

Standard equipment even on base Equinox LS models includes air conditioning, an AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. A rear-seat entertainment system, a navigation system, leather seating, heated seats, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio/phone controls, a sunroof, a rearview camera, and remote start are options on the LS.

LT models add 17-inch aluminum wheels, remote keyless entry and remote starting, an anti-theft system, and one year of OnStar service free. It now also includes Bluetooth, a USB interface, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls. 2LT models add heated cloth seats,

Top-of-the-line LTZ models get perforated-leather upholstery, memory seat settings, automatic climate control, a universal remote, a rear vision camera, and both forward collision warning and lane departure warning--both useful features that might help avoid an accident.

Most of the lineup now gets a touch-screen audio system with a USB port, while the voice-activated, touch-screen-based MyLink Connectivity system--for easier connectivity for hands-free calling or media access--is an option. MyLink also includes integrated Pandora and Stitcher app compatibility, and hands-free controls, plus the allowance for a connected navigation system.

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2014 Chevrolet Equinox

Fuel Economy

The four-cylinder versions of the 2014 Equinox are considerably more fuel-efficient--and the way to go for most buyers.

Go with the base four-cylinder engine in the 2014 Chevy Equinox and you'll have a fuel-efficient and frugal family wagon. The optional 3.6-liter V-6 is definitely thirstier, and it's up to you to determine whether the lower gas mileage is worth the added power and torque.

The Equinox's EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 32 highway ratings for the base four-cylinder model with front-wheel drive make it one of the better non-hybrid crossovers for fuel economy. Stepping up to AWD, mileage drops to 20/29, still good for a comfortably sized crossover. All four-cylinder models now come with an 'Eco' button which activates a mode with more conservative air-conditioning operation, earlier torque converter lockup, and different shift points.

EPA ratings with the new, larger 301-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 remain unimpressive for those who care about mileage: 16/23 with all-wheel drive or 17/24 with front-wheel drive.

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September 6, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LTZ

dingy for the motorhome

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this car was bought to ue as a toad behind the motorhome. It works very well for this purpose. So far I have driven the cat 30,000 miles and pulled it about 25,000 additional miles. The original tires were... + More »
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June 13, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LTZ

Great little auto

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plenty of space for four adults, plenty of power to cruse with traffic, nice looking, and plenty of features that more expensive auto have
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May 1, 2015
2014 Chevrolet Equinox AWD 4-Door LT w/1LT

Why was I driving a ford escape.?

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Just purchased an Equinox. It's perfectly in tune with the driver. So much quiter than the Ford escape and so so much smoother. Sleek looking interior and exterior with enough poke to get you out of trouble .
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Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 7.0
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