2014 Crossover SUV Buying Guide

The CarPreview.com 2014 Crossover SUV Buying Guide covers one of America’s largest, most competitive segments automotive segments. These vehicles essentially didn’t exist 20 years ago. Today, crossovers account for 49.3 percent of light-truck sales in the U.S. – and light trucks outsell cars. The term “crossover” describes an SUV in which the body and frame are basically a single “unibody” unit, as in an automobile. By contrast, traditional SUVs have truck-type engineering in which the body attaches to a separate frame. That suits heavy towing and hauling, but lighter-weight crossovers have the edge in ride comfort, handling, and fuel-economy.

The 37 crossovers in this guide are a diverse lot, ranging from compacts like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, to midsize models like the Chevrole Equinox and Ford Explorer, to near-full-size crossovers such as the Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Traverse. All seat at least five passengers and many have standard or optional third-row seating that increases capacity to seven or eight. Horsepower ranges from 121 to 470 and base prices from $16,990-$64,655. (Base prices include manufacturer destination fees, which average $900, but not factory or dealer-installed options.) For reviews and prices of traditional SUVs, see the CarPreview.com 2014 SUV Buying Guide. And the CarPreview 2014 Luxury SUV Buying Guide covers premium-brand crossovers from BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and other luxury brands.

The overwhelming majority offers some form of built-in infotainment that incorporates smartphone voice and music streaming, even apps that access movie times, restaurant reservations, and parking reminders. On the safety front, an increasing number offer the very latest in accident-avoidance technologies. Blind-spot alert, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and other safety systems are available on crossover SUVs that can cost under $35,000.

Here is our 2014 Crossover SUV Buying Guide:

2014 Chevrolet Equinox

2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ

Chevrolet’s venerable five-passenger crossover SUV enters the 2014 model year with no major changes. It occupies an interesting place in the market. From the outside, Equinox is roughly the size of other midsize-class crossovers, such as the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. Its passenger and cargo volume, however, trails that of compact-class models such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4. Most Equinoxes come with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. So equipped, acceleration is merely adequate. A 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 addresses this, but it’s a pricey $1,500 option and cuts projected fuel economy rather substantially. On that note, fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox span 19-26 mpg city/highway combined depending on drivetrain selection. Base-price range is $25,235-$34,195.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

Traverse is the most mainstream of General Motors’ “large-midsize” crossover SUVs. Its siblings are the more upscale GMC Acadia and luxury Buick Enclave. Traverse seats up to seven or eight passengers and comes with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 281-288 horsepower, depending on model selection. For 2014, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are newly available. Like Acadia and Enclave, Traverse boasts excellent passenger and cargo room, including one of the most accommodating third-row seats in the class. At the same time, this is a large, heavy vehicle, so it doesn’t feel especially quick during acceleration, and its EPA fuel-economy rating of 18-19 mpg combined isn’t all that great. The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse base-price range is $31,670-$44,130.

2014 Dodge Durango

2014 Dodge Durango Limited

This Dodge is closer in size and scope to traditional truck-type large SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe than it is to midsize crossovers such as the Honda Pilot. Despite boasting a crossover-style unibody design, Durango is available with rear- or all-wheel drive, a V-6 or V-8 engine, and the ability to tow 6,200-7,400 pounds (most crossovers have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500-5,000 pounds). For 2014, Durango gets a substantial freshening with revised exterior styling and a new interior. The standard V-6 engine is smooth, but acceleration can feel labored at times. The V-8 is potent but a gas guzzler. Durango is roomy inside, but it for the most part, it drives like the large vehicle it is. Fuel-economy ratings span 16-20 mpg combined. Base-price range is $30,790-$41,990.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]