If you’re one of the millions of people who have a love affair with your car - or any car for that matter - chances are the words “sports” and “car” come together in a special place in your heart. While most of us can’t afford to drive the sports car of our dreams, it does scratch that itch to have a car that at exudes a sporty vibe. This is where the “sports package” comes in: multiple options that make your car seem more sports car-esque. And while there are some cars that all the sporty options on earth can’t help, others take on a whole new life with the sport package.
Admit it, if you love your car, you’ve dreamed of racing at least once – the roar of the engine drowning out the thunderous pounding of your heart as the high-octane adrenaline courses through your veins while the tires chew up pavement and spit it out the tailpipe. This is the sort of pure escapism car people embrace when they’re stuck in traffic in the daily driver. “If only this Sentra could perform like an Indy Car, I’d be home in no time! Traffic sucks!!”
Unless you’re one of the lucky few who own a sports car, you may want to check out this list of the cars that need the sports package the most - and those that don’t – before you make your next automotive purchase.
17 Needs The Package: 2018 Honda Civic
Honda is one of those car companies that strikes different chords in different people. For many they’re one of the most dependable, longest lasting daily drivers out there. To others they’re a modern-day answer to the 70s mod craze. To yet another group, Honda – and most particularly the Civic – is The Fast And The Furious lifestyle made real.
Step one in turning your yawn inducing grocery-getter into a ride Vin Diesel would drool on is going with the sport package.
According to Honda.com, the sport package comes with ground effects, dual outlet exhaust, leather wrapped steering wheel and other head-turning options that will take your Civic from dull to dynamite long before you put your own personality all over it.
16 Needs The Package: 1993 Ford Mustang
Very few Fords hold a level of esteem with car enthusiasts like the Fox-body Mustangs. Introduced in the late 70s, it wasn’t until the 1987-1993 run that this stallion really took off. However, those who neglected to sport up their ‘Stang when they bought a brand new one really missed out. Opting for the GT model would give you the legendary Ford 5.0 engine – an overhead valve Windsor V8, a spoiler and ground effects. Those lucky enough (re: smart enough) to get their hands on the SVT Cobra bought into a piece of Detroit history.
While according to FordPerformance.com the 235 HP Mustang ran the ¼ mile in 14.5 seconds, a time and power output that seems pedestrian these days, in the era of emissions choked muscle cars, the Mustang GT and Cobra models were the envy of gearheads, street racers and mod-squad members nationwide.
15 Needs The Package: 2013 Dodge Dart
Similar to the Honda Civic the 2013, the Dodge Dart led a dual life. For many drivers it was a college student’s first car, or grandma’s sensible purchase. Whether it was going to an all-night study group, rave party or Thursday night bingo, the Dart hardly stands out in a crowd.
The same can’t be said for the SXT/Rallye package. Dual exhaust, premium wheels wrapped in pavement grabbing performance tires, dual clutch and a darkened front grill that hid the turbo charged 4-cylinder engine helped the Dart SXT Rallye leap ahead of the entry level cars of its day.
14 Needs The Package: 2017 Dodge Charger
The base model Charger for 2017 looks like the kind of thing you see in rental car commercials where the ad is trying to sell you on convenience and price. Last I checked, no one interested in sporty rides put convenience at the top of their “must-have” list.
What they do look for is spoilers, aggressive stance, wider tires, and more horses crammed under the hood. Thankfully, Dodge has lots of that to offer the 2017 Charger enthusiast.
According to Dodge.com the GT package offers a 300 HP V6, three-piece spoiler and tuned all-wheel drive. Stepping up to the Daytona package gets you tuned exhaust, active suspension, three mode stability control and a 370 HP Hemi V8.
13 Needs The Package: 2017 Hyundai Veloster
Let’s face it, the name Veloster just sounds cool. Kudos to the person at Hyundai that came up with that name. Unfortunately, the base Veloster is called a “Value Edition”… yeah, not so cool anymore. But, the folks at Hyundai recover well by offering up the Turbo R-Spec and Turbo editions. While neither of those names are as original as the Veloster itself, they do conjure images of shattering track records on Gran Turismo.
Both turbo editions come with body upgrades such as the air-gulping front grill reminiscent of the newer Lexus models, leather interior and alloy pedals. Just add in your own Team Forza stickers and you’re ready to race.
12 Needs The Package: 2002 Chevrolet Camaro
There are very few production performance cars in history that need the sport package upgrade like the fourth generation Chevrolet Camaro. While the car’s lines were sleek and aerodynamic, it just seemed, well, naked without the ground effects, spoiler and dual exhaust available in the Z28 and SS versions.
What was even worse about the base 2002 Camaro was it looked like it should be a fast car – but not really. The anemic V6 standard engine only put out 200 HP, a considerable chunk of which never made it to the ground.
A simple switch to the Z28 or SS model put your horsepower well beyond 300 and came with a subtle exhaust note that roared when you got on it – putting everyone around on notice that this car could move.
11 Needs The Package: 2012 Honda Accord
Sensible. That’s a word used to describe the purchase of a base model 2012 Honda Accord. US News puts the 2012 Accord into the “Affordable Midsize Cars” category.
Excuse me while I stifle the yawn induced by typing that out.
Never fear (or fall asleep) though! Honda knew better than to only toss out an “affordable” and “sensible” option package and delivered the EX-L V6 package. This brought a 271 HP 3.5L V6, 18-inch premium wheels, chrome tipped exhaust, rear spoiler, chrome grill and door handles as well as an optional leather wrapped interior. Sound sensible? I think not.
10 Needs The Package: 2018 Chevy Malibu
Chevrolet’s Malibu is a hard car to pin down. It’s gone from grocery-getter to upscale sedan to extinction and back again. Unlike other cars on this list, if you ask 20 people what a Malibu is, you’re likely to get 20 different answers. If you’re talking about the base model in 2018, a dozen or more of those asked may not even know it exists. That’s how bland this one is.
On their website Chevrolet is quick to point out that J.D. Power hails the 2018 Malibu as the most dependable mid-sized car. Booooorrrriiinnnnggg!
Thankfully you can build a premier sport edition, complete with lowered suspension, body kit, premium wheels, dark chrome grill and ground effects. Or, you can grab a rare Red Line Edition complete with custom paint, wheels and lights. Depend on that J.D Powers.
9 Needs The Package: 2018 Toyota Camry
The front page of Toyota.com’s Camry section declares this one is “Toyota Safety Sense Standard”. Here we go, slowly driving off to Yawnville once more. Does safety and sense really lay the foundation for great car sales? I hope not.
Scrolling down, you’ll see they seem to fear the same thing as the first offering in the model line is the XSE V6 sport package. Trying to have their cake and eat it too, apparently.
The 8-speed transmission helps deliver the 301 HP from the tuned V6 to help you accelerate like the wind or cruise conservatively down the highway. If you’ve read this far, fuel economy probably isn’t a hot button for you, though. For you, though, Toyota tossed in a rear spoiler, alloy wheels and performance tires.
8 Needs The Package: 2018 Audi A8
For those of you looking to drop the price of a small, rural house on your next set of wheels, Audi offers up the base model A8 for only $82,500. While you will get a solid car, there isn’t much about it to get the adrenaline pumping when you compare it to the sport package 4.0L TSFI version, clocking in at $92,000 (hey, what’s $10k when you’re already spending nearly $100,000?).
Stepping up to the 4.0L gets you Valcona leather seats, your choice of four different 20 inch custom alloy wheel packages, twin-exhaust outlets, chrome accents, four-wheel Audi adaptive air ride suspension and the head turning pleasure of driving the sweetest sedan in your ‘hood.
7 Doesn't Need The Package: 1977 Datsun 280Z
You may not recall Datsun, the name Nissan marketed their cars under to America from 1958 to 1986. But, if you love sporty, sweet cars, then you’re certainly familiar with Nissan’s Z line (see Nissan Z-Series). Many believe the 1977 Datsun 280Z was the one to launch this line into the world of legendary automobiles. The Z series began in the 1970 model year with the 240Z, but after Steve McQueen’s Bullet and Burt Reynold’s Smokey and the Bandit lit fire to the American car culture, the 280Z became the true alternative to the “econo-boxes” most Japanese car companies were known for back then.
Without even placing it on a backdrop, the image of a 280Z immediately brings to life visions of winding mountain roads, chest compression acceleration and smile-inducing adrenalin. Sure, some people tried to enhance the looks and performance, but the 1977 280Z didn’t need any of that to be cool.
6 Doesn't Need The Package: 2018 Lexus GS
Unlike it’s cousin listed above, the Toyota Camry, the landing page on Lexus.com for the GS is bold, in your face and ready to grab you with a declaration of “Full Throttle Performance.” Judging by the looks of the GS, this is no idea boast.
They’re just something about that over the top grill and front facia that commands attention and screams high adrenaline ride. While the optional F Sport is even cooler, the base GS complete with its ultra-responsive 241 HP V6 bolted to an advanced 8-speed transmission delivering rear wheel drive power and handling is more than sporty enough for the typical Lexus enthusiast.
5 Doesn't Need The Package: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
While the 2018 Santa Fe is a great option for midsize SUV enthusiasts looking for a solid bang for their buck, the upgrade options from the base model to fully loaded don’t offer much in the way of turbo-charging the Santa Fe’s sportiness.
In fact, according to Hyundai.com the closest thing to sporty options are dynamic headlights and a panoramic sunroof.
Maybe when Fast and the Furious hits the middle age part of Vin Diesel’s life, he can drive one of these and show us how sporty it can be. In the meantime, we’ll just have to look elsewhere if we want a sport inspired SUV.
4 Doesn't Need The Package: 2018 Jaguar F-Pace
Unlike the Santa Fe, the new Jaguar F-Pace puts the sport in “sport utility vehicle”. As the first foot forward in Jaguar’s entry into the SUV market, the F-Pace really is a head turner, for sure.
As (under)stated on Jaguar’s website, the entry level F-Pace delivers 247 HP and achieves a top speed of 135mph with its turbo-charged 2.0L 4-cylinder.
Featuring all-wheel drive, torque-vectoring braking, hill launch mode for accelerating, twin exhaust, and a litany of other options standard, the need to upgrade to one of the higher models is really only for those who are never satisfied.
While Jaguar doesn’t have a history of great reliability, at least the owners of the F-Pace can look cool while they wait for the tow truck, should anything unexpected arise while cruising their favorite roadways.
3 Doesn't Need The Package: 2002 Pontiac Trans Am
The 1970s hit movie Smokey and the Bandit changed how American culture viewed muscle cars forevermore with the modified 1977 Special Edition “Bandit” Trans Am. The now defunct Pontiac Motor Company wasted no time in cashing in on the legend Burt Reynolds helped to create.
By the time Pontiac introduced the fourth gen Trans Am in 1993, their motto was “We Build Excitement”. They weren’t wrong with the last year of the Trans Am. The 310 HP 5.7L V8 inhaled blacktop through the distinctive nostrils and shot it out the twin tailpipes every time the accelerator was hit. Landing somewhere between jet fighter and batmobile, the Trans Am was as unique as its trademark “batwing” spoiler. Equipped with 245/50/16 tires that looked as if they’d be equally at home on a dragster or stock car, on a ground-hugging chassis, everything about the Trans Am screamed speed, power and performance.
2 Doesn't Need The Package: 2017 Chevrolet Corvette
Another entry from General Motors that requires no upgrading whatsoever to blow any sports car enthusiast away is the 2017 Corvette. The stock 6.2L LT1 engine catapults you from 0-60mph in a breath stealing 3.7 seconds and the computer-controlled sport-tuned suspension that adjusts to the roadway in 15 milliseconds ensures you stay glued to the pavement no matter how far up the powerband you push the V8.
Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport tires assist to bring you to a sudden halt when necessary, braking from 80mph to a dead halt in only 167 feet according to Road and Track. While the Z06 and Stingray variants are icing on the cake, the base 2017 Corvette is simply an amazing feat of automotive engineering.
1 Doesn't Need The Package: Saleen S7
It came as a shock that the only real American supercar ever made actually has a base model and an option package. I mean, when you have the cash to buy an S7, who skimps, right?
But, if you’re a budget-conscious millionaire looking to invest in the thrill of driving, the entry-level S7 is all you.
Now, you can really push the budget and buy the limited edition Le Mans package, but there are only seven on earth, so expect to go way beyond the price of admission to secure one. According to Road and Track, the entry-level S7 will do the ¼ mile in ten seconds, topping 140mph in that span. All from the Ford 427 V8 based off the same engines Ford employs in the NASCAR world. Say what you will about stock car racing, but the S7 is far sportier.
Sources: Saleen.com, roadandtrack.com, jaguarusa.com, bmwusa.com