- Very roomy second-row seat
- Sport’s V-6 engine and six-speed automatic
- Good crash-test scores with optional curtain airbags
- Base engine
- Interior quality
The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox still sports great interior room, but it needs better handling and a better interior.
The compact crossover Equinox shares platforms and certain components with the Pontiac Torrent. For 2008, it gets minor updates and a new version, the Equinox Sport. It's an aging crossover but still has lots of interior room, great safety, and with a new powertrain, good acceleration.
Two powertrains are offered in the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox. The base powerplant is a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that's made in China and used in Buicks sold there. The engine isn't particularly powerful, and even the five-speed automatic teamed with it can't draw out any sort of excitement. It's either front-wheel drive or, when specified, all-wheel drive.
The Chevrolet Equinox Sport model gets its name from its updated appearance and the arrival under the hood of a new V-6 engine with 263 horsepower, teamed to a six-speed automatic. The automatic has tap-shift controls for semi-manual gearchanges, a tuned exhaust note, 18-inch wheels, and body-color trim, though it loses its roof rack in the Sportification process. Chevrolet offers the Sport in front- and all-wheel drive, and in general, it's a more enthusiastic performer capable of accelerating to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. There's almost no fuel economy penalty; the AWD Sport gets 16/24 mpg, while the front-drive Equinox with the base engine musters 17/24 mpg.
The Chevy Equinox rides on an independent suspension, and its road manners are anything but athletic. It's far from a sloppy mess, but it takes no joy in cornering, and the tires on base versions howl at the slightest corners. The steering feels vague, too.
The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox has been around for a few years, and while its crossover wedge shape isn't unattractive, it's starting to look its age. Inside, however, the Equinox needs to issue a moratorium on cheap plastic. To GM's credit, the company has become a lot better at crafting high-quality cabins like that in the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. This one got out before that became the case. The shapes are fine--it's the textures and action of the switches that disappoint. Thick windshield pillars don't help visibility, either.
Built around a front-wheel drive powertrain and carlike unibody, the Equinox has a completely flat floor that's also relatively low and that combines to amplify the feeling of spaciousness. But the most impressive element of the interior's accommodations is the vast amount of rear seat hip and legroom. Chevy has put the rear seat on sliding tracks so that it moves forward and back up across an eight-inch range. The rear seat's back also folds forward in a 60/40 split, and the right front passenger seat folds flat into a table as well. Behind the seats, though, the cargo area is about the size of that in the smaller Ford Escape.
There is no third-row seat, but the Equinox sports an adjustable cargo shelf in back, standard OnStar, and a compass. Curtain airbags are an option, and so outfitted, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox gets five-star crash ratings for front and side impacts. A navigation system and XM are optional.