It can be a difficult time when owners of high-excitement coupes, roadsters and sedans are forced to surrender their fun-mobiles when practicality comes knocking.
But do you really have to give it all up? Not to worry as Chevrolet has endowed its compact Equinox sport-utility vehicle with more under-the-hood and visual excitement designed to fuel the passions of the performance deprived.
Since 2005, the five-passenger Equinox has been one of those value-laden workhorses that clearly identifies with anyone needing to cart adults, children, pets and all their assorted belongings in relative comfort. It also tries to keep the family transportation budget in check with its reasonable price. These qualities have made the Equinox, along with its sister-ship Pontiac Torrent, popular with the active family set.
However competent it is, the Equinox wasn’t really built to stir the souls of buyers searching for performance.
For this trigger-happy group, the new Equinox Sport might just be the fix.
Available in both front- and all-wheel-drive, the Sport joins an expanding lineup that now includes the base LS, mid-range LT and new-for-2008 luxury-oriented LTZ. But it’s the Sport that comes with the kind of content that should appeal to performance-oriented buyers.
The most important difference sits between the front fenders where a 264-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 replaces the 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 that remains the sole choice on the rest of the Equinox fleet.
In addition, the Sport is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission as opposed to the five-speed automatic used with the base V6. Steering-wheel-mounted “tap-shift” controls allow for manual finger-tip gear selection.
The Sport’s advanced dual overhead-cam powertrain, which also sees service on a number of larger General Motors passenger cars and sport-utes, achieves nearly the same fuel-economy numbers as the smaller V6: 16 m.p.g. city/24 highway.
Chevy also claims that the Sport’s 79 extra horsepower will help kick it to 60 m.p.h. in less than seven seconds, confirming that this potent Equinox is more than just some optimistically labeled poseur.
Other Sport-exclusive goodies include body-colored front and rear fascias, distinctive interior trim (including heated front sport seats) dual chromed exhaust outlets, special 18-inch alloy wheels and a stiffer, sport-tuned suspension that reduces the ride height by an inch.
Of course, the features that come with every Equinox are standard on the Sport, including air conditioning, remote keyless entry, tilt steering, power windows, locks and mirrors and a CD-equipped sound system, to name just a few.
Each and every Equinox also features a 60/40 split rear seat that slides fore and aft through a range of eight inches. It also reclines, allowing you to choose between more leg room or cargo space, depending on what’s needed at the time.
Then there’s a rear cargo-compartment cover that’s carpeted on one side and has a washable plastic surface on the other so you can choose between appearance and ruggedness. The tray also fits into a trio of slots set at different heights so it can be used as a picnic table, work station or for multilevel storage.
The front passenger seatback also folds flat for those times when you need to transport longer items, or require a work station for your laptop computer. You’ll have to give up the standard roof rack, which has been relegated to the options list to keep the Sport’s looks as sleek as possible, but what’s gained is a more tempting wagon that can tackle the family chores with bolder looks and more generous power to make the journey a lot more satisfying.