Once a champ, now sitting ringside

2014 Chevrolet Equinox Review

By Mark Stevenson
2014 Chevrolet Equinox Review
While moving out to live on your own is certainly a welcomed right of passage for almost everyone at the end of their teens, there’s something heartwarming about heading back to the homestead for a long weekend with family.

Sure, you’ll probably have your mother constantly reminding you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher and your father asking you for help with some of the heavy-lifting chores he’s been saving for your return, but there is something familiar about being home, and for all its annoyances it can be rather comforting.

The Chevrolet Equinox is just like home. Read more and I’ll tell you why.


What is the Chevrolet Equinox?
The Chevrolet Equinox, now five years into its second generation, is the General’s bread-and-butter small CUV. Introduced in 2009 as a 2010 model, the second generation Equinox has seen some positive evolution, but virtually nothing has changed for 2014.

If you are looking for an entry-level, small SUV with decent tech and equipment, this is your starting point. If you’re a proponent for Canadian-built vehicles, you’re in luck, as the Equinox is assembled in Ingersoll, Ontario, alongside the GMC Terrain.

2014 Chevrolet Equinox Price and Specs
Available in LS, LT (1LT and 2LT), and LTZ trims, in both front- or all-wheel drive, the Chevrolet Equinox is equipped with a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injected 4-cylinder engine producing 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. However, if you want more power, you can opt for the 3.6L direct-injected V6 with 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque (available only on LT and LTZ trims). Both engines send power to a 6-speed automatic transmission, regardless of driveline.

Prices for the base trim LS model with front-wheel drive start at $26,375 before taxes and fees, reaching up to $37,175 for a top trim LTZ model with all-wheel drive (but still with the 4-cylinder engine).

Driving the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox
Like I mentioned at the top, the Equinox is just like returning to mom and dad’s: you know exactly what you’re in for and it’s totally all right.

Back in 2009, I tested the Equinox and found it to be quite surprising, mainly for one reason: it was exceptionally quiet. This was thanks to active noise cancellation and acoustic glass, something that I hadn’t experienced before in an offering from a volume brand. I couldn’t hear the engine on the highway, nor was there a hint of wind noise whistling past panel gaps.

We’re no longer in 2009. We’re in 2014, and the competition has caught up. The Equinox still continues to be a quiet place inside, but the 4-cylinder engine is not nearly as smooth as some of its competition. Opt for the V6 and you will be treated to a much more pleasant experience without the traditional astronomical rise in fuel consumption as it’s a fairly efficient unit.

Even with its grumbly inline four, the Equinox is fairly comfortable. Suspension is compliant -- not too firm or soft -- but it won’t win any awards. Handling is…well…it’s an SUV, what do you expect? Steering is a little numb, as is brake pedal feel, but it all doesn’t matter. Not in the slightest.

It’s comfortable because it isn’t surprising. Nothing really jumps out at you. Nothing takes you off guard. The Chevrolet Equinox is what it is, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox
“Design me an SUV that offends absolutely nobody,” declared the design manager before the pencil monkeys took to their drawing pads and computer tablets.

And they delivered. The Equinox can easily be lost at a parking lot, side street, soccer game, tailgate party, sitting alone on a beach or in a field surrounded by freshly cut Kentucky bluegrass. It’s the ultimate “blending in” vehicle; like a jacked up Malibu Maxx. Except more plain.

It doesn’t declare, “I give up on life!” No, that’s too brash. Instead, it sneakily whispers, “I was never here,” as it drives off without anyone so much as giving a second glance.

And you know what? That might be a good thing. We don’t all need to make a statement with our choice of transportation. If you want to haul people and stuff around in relative obscurity, this is a solid option.

Yet, inside, things are a mixture of predictable, old, and weird.

Expected: the entire design of the dash and instrument panel. It’s cookie cutter General Motors stuff. Not a bad thing and totally functional. However, it’s far from unique.

Old: the Equinox is still equipped with the previous generation Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system. Even the Chevrolet Spark -- the brand’s smallest and least expensive car -- has the newer system. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Both systems have usability issues; the new system just has more polish.

Weird: The seats in my tester were covered in some of the oddest fabric used after the ‘90s, with its closest comparable being built-in underwear from a pair of men’s swim trunks. And just like built-in underwear, it’s not pleasant on the skin, especially against the nether regions (I’d imagine).

Yet, none of this -- absolutely none of it -- matters.

Why?

Because just like family, the Equinox is utterly predictable and always welcoming. It’s comfortable. Not in the “bed made of clouds” meaning of the word, because it isn’t that kind of comfortable. But, in a way where everything is expected, nothing is surprising, and a warm feeling of sameness envelopes you as you walk in the door to the smell of your mother’s baking.

The Equinox is home.

Comparing the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox
The Equinox attempts to stake claim to a bedroom in a very crowded house along with the Ford Escape, Dodge Journey, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4.

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