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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
respectable performance that should please most
corners reasonably well
Kelley Blue Book
Steering feel is poor, even for an SUV
With ample horsepower for most applications and usually smooth shifting, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox is well endowed, but still lacks the suspension polish of some other crossover models.
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. Cars.com reports this engine is “Hard to get excited about,” and according to Kelley Blue Book, the base V-6 is "jackrabbit quick when it comes to crossing crowded intersections." In regard to "passing at high speed," however, the Chevrolet Equinox "engine seems to lose some of its kick past the 70 mile-per-hour mark." Car and Driver takes note of the "thrashy-sounding 185-hp, 3.4-liter pushrod V-6," but is impressed with the shifting of the "surprisingly responsive five-speed automatic transmission" as found on the "LS and LT models."
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 gear changes. 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. Car and Driver is enthusiastic about the Sport trim, with its "3.6-liter DOHC engine with 264 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission." Cars.com says, “This engine, optional on the new Malibu, has plenty of punch, nicely delivered through the six-speed automatic transmission.”
“Though the Equinox is not meant for serious off-road duty, consumers who live in snowy climes will be glad to know that both trims may be purchased with all-wheel drive,” Edmunds notes, adding the SUV can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
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, according to the EPA.
The base 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. Edmunds “noted considerable body roll around turns, and the truck's electric power steering is sluggish and offers little feedback,” while Car and Driver praises the "relatively agile and carlike" handling, especially when "compared to SUVs with body-on-frame construction." Kelley Blue Book is also not impressed with the steering, saying the 2008 Equinox's "electric power steering system of the LS, LT and LTZ trims" provide "little feedback and an unnatural feel." Kelley Blue Book reports that with "a 40-foot turning diameter," the 2008 Chevy Equinox feels "like a full-size SUV in just about any parking lot." The Equinox Sport, however, shines in reviews from across the Web: “The ride is firm but compliant,” Cars.com asserts, “and handling is better than I thought I'd ever see in an Equinox.”
The 2008 Chevrolet Equinox’s performance is adequate in base versions, and much improved in the Sport edition.