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What it Is
new cars: Chevrolet Equinox Sport Preview – With apologies to GM, when it comes to boring cars the Equinox is, well, right up there on the snooze parade. It is what it is, after all – a commuter’s SUV, a utility with a little style, a little zip – but, mostly, a lot of utility, wide gaps and bad plastics. All of that makes the new Equinox Sport – debuted at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show with a plan to reach dealerships later in 2007 as a 2008 model – vitally important to the self-esteem of Equinox owners across America: Here is the pepper, the spice, the reason to feel glad and happy when you’re behind the wheel of an Equinox. Just add Sport and you’ve got yourself some action.
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Why it Matters
Depending on the price tag – which hasn’t been released – the Equinox Sport could be a great deal for people who want performance and like the overall Equinox package. With exterior modifications and what we hope is a vastly improved interior trim, the Equinox may very well be a five-passenger performance-oriented SUV that everyman can afford.
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What’s Under the Hood
GM’s 3.6-liter V6 engine powers the Equinox Sport, delivering 263 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft of torque – a 42 percent power increase over the Equinox LT. That engine is mated to GM’s six-speed automatic transmission; together, GM estimates that the Equinox Sport will go from 0-60 in less than seven seconds. That added power is handled by a performance-tuned suspension, lowered ride height, specific shock tuning, control arms and larger, solid stabilizer bars create a more spry handling experience. The Equinox Sport comes in front-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations.
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What it Looks Like
First, there’s no roof rack. That says something right there. Then, GM put body-colored front and rear fascias and a body color grille cross bar on the Equinox Sport, as well as trapezoidal design cues on the fascias, silver-painted air inlets, and dual chrome exhaust outlets. Of course, nothing says performance like some beefy shoes, and the Equinox Sport’s got ‘em: 18-inchers on five-spoke wheels mounted on P235/50R18 tires.
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The Equinox Sport has standard all-ebony trim, new seats with bolsters and perforated leather-covered versions available, along with a leather-wrapped, four-spoke steering wheel and specific instrumentation – including a 140-mph speedometer. The shifter is unique to the Equinox Sport, with a J-gate design to the six-speed transmission’s fully automatic or manual tap-shifting feature. Typical standard features on the Equinox are still present, though we hope the poor fit and finish and awful plastics disappear on the Sport model.
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What Chevrolet Says
“The Equinox Sport embodies all of the value-driven performance ingredients that have made Chevrolet the brand for performance enthusiasts of all walks of life,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “Better still, customers don’t have to sacrifice the versatility they expect from the Equinox – they simply get an SUV that hauls their friends and cargo with head-turning style.”
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What We Think
Few are better at running the performance variant playbook than GM, especially when it comes to their run-of-the-mill cars. We think the inclusion of a sporty powertrain, performance suspension modifications and an upgraded interior equals an Equinox that’s worth a sporting drive. Just add Sport, after all, and you’ve got one hot variant on a boring theme. As long as the price is manageable and volume high enough, the Equinox Sport just may give Equinox shoppers a real reason to smile.
Photos courtesy of General Motors, Brian Chee
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