NEW FOR 2008:

- New Equinox Sport model
– Enhanced ride and handling characteristics for LS and LT
– Electronic trailer sway control integrated into StabiliTrak stability program on all models
– Compass relocated from mirror to driver information centre
– Exterior colours: Navy Blue Metallic, Black Granite Metallic, and Golden Teal Metallic

For 2008, the big news for the Equinox is a Sport model, which uses a 3.6-litre V6 engine with six-speed automatic transmission, sport-tuned suspension, lowered ride height and unique interior and exterior styling cues.

Regular Equinox models, in LS or LT trim, use a 3.4-litre V6 with five-speed automatic transmission. All models are available in front-wheel drive or with optional all-wheel drive. The Equinox shares its platform with the Pontiac Torrent; it was also previously cloned with the Saturn Vue, which has been completely redesigned.

Features on the LS include 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, automatic headlights, theft alarm, tire pressure monitoring system, power mirrors, roof rack side rails, rear spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, front floor console, driver information centre, tilt wheel, fold-flat front passenger seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, CD stereo with auxiliary jack, and OnStar.

The LT adds extended-range keyless remote, fog lamps, privacy glass, roof rack cross bars, cargo net, cruise control, floor mats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, premium cloth seats, six-way power driver’s seat, rear centre armrest with cupholders, and CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack.

The Sport uses hydraulic steering to the LS and LT electric steering, and adds 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, remote starter, dual chrome-tipped exhaust, sport suspension, and heated sport bucket seats.

Several options and packages are available, including the LS2 "Team Canada Edition" with 17-inch chrome-clad wheels, privacy glass, remote starter, premium cloth trim, cruise control, and floor mats; and the LT4, with 17-inch chrome-clad wheels, remote starter, heated bucket seats with leather inserts, premium six-CD stereo and XM Satellite radio. Other options, depending on the model, include navigation system, curtain airbags, trailer package, power sunroof, multi-level cargo system and rear-seat DVD system.

Practical and comfortable, the Equinox is a well-priced contender in the compact SUV market, especially with its fold-flat front seat and a clever sliding rear seat that can be moved fore and aft to maximize legroom or cargo space. The new, throaty and powerful Equinox Sport offers tight handling and fun-to-drive performance while still dishing up the interior space and handy configuration of its less-powerful sibling.

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