- Premium look inside and out
- Strong optional V6 engine
- Quiet interior
- Comfortable highway ride
- Spacious and adjustable backseat
- Four-cylinder version feels sluggish on the highway and real-world mpg falls short of EPA ratings
- Less cargo space than rivals
- Steering isn't very precise
Since its introduction back in 2010, the Chevrolet Equinox has been one of our favorite small crossover SUVs thanks to its combination of good looks, comfort and practicality. Compared to some more recently introduced or redesigned models, the 2014 Chevy Equinox isn't quite as desirable as it once was, but it's still a model you'll likely want to take a look at if you're shopping for a compact crossover.
High on the Equinox's positive attribute list is the availability of a strong V6 engine. More and more automakers are dropping the optional V6s from their small crossover lineups due to fuel economy concerns or a claimed lack of consumer demand. This leaves the Equinox (plus its GMC twin, the Terrain) as one of only a few models in 2014 that offers six-cylinder grunt for towing or hauling or merely to satisfy your desire for speed.
The Equinox also gets a thumbs-up for its overall ride comfort and the quietness of its cabin. This small Chevrolet doesn't offer quite as much cargo capacity as some rivals, but there's still enough to deal with the typical items that most people will be looking to haul. Plus, we like that the Equinox's rear seat both reclines and slides back to give second-row occupants first-class legroom.
Less impressive is the Equinox's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's standard on all trim levels. It has solid EPA fuel economy ratings, but out in the real world, we've been underwhelmed by both its performance and its fuel economy. Handling isn't a strong suit for the Equinox either, and its steering isn't very precise even by budget crossover SUV standards.
If practicality is your top priority, you'd be wise to check out the roomier and multitalented Honda CR-V or perhaps the Kia Sorento, which also has a V6 option plus an available third-row seat. Shoppers looking for a more entertaining driving experience will also want to look at sportier models like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan. But all things considered, the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is definitely worth a look, particularly if you're interested in a small crossover with a truly upscale interior and a V6 engine option.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
For 2014, the Chevrolet Equinox is essentially unchanged.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is a compact crossover SUV that's offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ.
Standard equipment on the entry-level LS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a driver seat with power height adjustment, a 60/40-split second-row seat that slides and reclines, cruise control, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar communications and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The LT trim level is actually split into two subsets: 1LT and 2LT. The 1LT adds heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, roof rack side rails, premium cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system that has a 7-inch touchscreen (Chevy's MyLink interface), Bluetooth audio connectivity, voice controls and smartphone integration for Internet radio apps such as Pandora.
Moving up to the 2LT gets you foglights, remote start, automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a Pioneer sound system with eight speakers.
Springing for the top-of-the-line LTZ gets you some nice extras, including 18-inch chromed alloy wheels, a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger seat, driver memory settings and a lane departure warning system with forward collision alert. LTZ models equipped with the V6 engine also get firmer suspension tuning.
Some of the standard features on upper trim levels are bundled into option packages that can be added to the less expensive models. Other options include 19-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels (LTZ V6 only), a sunroof, a navigation system (2LT and LTZ) and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system (LTZ only).
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside, the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox offers a stylish cabin with a distinctive dual-cowl design that looks all the more appealing with the available two-tone color scheme. The quality of the materials is just average, but the overall effect is quite pleasing, especially compared to some of the Chevy's competitors, which don't put as much priority on design.
Another strength here is the audio system's touchscreen interface (1LT and above) that features customizable menus similar to those on modern smartphones. The MyLink system incorporates Bluetooth streaming audio capability, which allows it to work with popular smartphone apps like Pandora and Stitcher. Weak spots here include the touchscreen's occasional slow processing times and missed responses to touch inputs.
Seating comfort and legroom is good all around, and the sliding and reclining second-row seats allow you to expand the amount of legroom in the rear. The downside to all this room being devoted to passengers is that the Equinox offers less cargo space than many competitors, with 31.4 cubic feet of storage behind the 60/40-split rear seats. Fold both sections of those seatbacks down and the interior maxes out at 63.7 cubic feet of cargo room -- the CR-V and Sorento offer more than 70 cubic feet of capacity.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Chevy Equinox include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is GM's OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency assistance button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle assistance. A rearview camera is standard on all trims except the LS. Standard on the LTZ and optional on the 2LT are rear parking sensors and frontal collision and lane departure warning systems.
In Edmunds brake testing an Equinox came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is about average for this type of vehicle. In government crash tests, the Equinox received an overall score of four stars out of a possible five. Within that rating, it received four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side protection. In moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Equinox earned a top "Good" rating.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is offered with one of two powertrains. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque is standard across the model lineup, as are a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. An all-wheel-drive system is optional.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Equinox with the four-cylinder engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, an average number for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates are 26 mpg combined (22 mpg city/32 mpg highway) and with front-wheel drive and 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/29 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive. While these numbers are impressive, in our tests the Equinox had a hard time matching them, especially on the highway.
LT and LTZ models are also available with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. In testing of the essentially identical GMC Terrain V6, we recorded a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds, an impressive time among small and midsize crossovers with a six-cylinder or upgraded turbocharged engine. Not surprisingly, EPA fuel economy estimates for this engine are significantly lower at 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city/24 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive and 19 mpg combined (16 mpg city/23 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive.
Properly equipped, four-cylinder models will tow up to 1,500 pounds. With the V6, towing capacity climbs to 3,500 pounds.
The driving character of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is largely dictated by what's under the hood. Although the four-cylinder Equinox matches the acceleration times of other compact crossovers in this price range, it doesn't feel as potent out in the real world. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, and this isn't very relaxing. In contrast, the V6 is downright impressive. It provides strong and smooth performance in any situation.
The Equinox's handling abilities are nothing special. The steering isn't very precise, and the Chevy's suspension is tuned to favor comfort over sharp handling around turns. The upside, of course, is a smooth ride that's enhanced by the overall serenity of the cabin.
The 2014 Chevy Equinox is a worthy choice for a small crossover SUV, particularly if you're interested in one with a nice highway ride and an available V6 engine.