7 Cars With Unnecessary Sport Trims

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These pointless sport-badged models were anything but sporty.

When approached properly, a sport trim on a car can be a wonderful version of a mediocre car. We've had some legendary performance versions of non-sports cars over the decades that have become staples of a model's lineup. Examples include the Mini Cooper and Chevelle SS from the 1960s and the iconic Golf GTI or Civic Type R in the 1980s. However, it has also become a marketing tool aimed at people that want to feel like they're not driving a boring car or people that care more that their vehicle looks sporty rather than having substantial added performance. Not all cars need or are worthy of a sport-trimmed version, and that's what we have collected here.

CarBuzz

Prius Plus Performance Package

In 2011, Toyota did something that brought tears of laughter to the world of performance driving enthusiasts. They set the TRD department loose on the Prius to create a sporty version of the car designed purely for getting the most out of a gallon of fuel. The upgrades were surprisingly comprehensive, though, and as effective as they are pointless on a Prius. The $3,699 upgrade included a ground-effects package, five-spoke 17-inch forged aluminum wheels, TRD track-tuned springs, and an upgraded rear anti-roll bar. The suspension change lowered the Prius by 1.1 inches at the front and 1.3 inches at the back. According to Toyota, the Plus Performance Package didn't hurt the fuel economy as the ground effect package lowered the Prius' coefficient of drag and the wheels were lighter.

We're going to make your day by including a promotional video below for the Toyota Prius Plus Performance Package. We particularly appreciate the voiceover comments, "This is where greener goes meaner," and "Hug the trees and the road."

Toyota
Toyota

Dodge Grand Caravan R/T

Oh boy. According to reports at the time, Dodge's product planners were calling the R/T version of the Dodge Grand Caravan the "man van." Clearly, the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T was designed to make men suffering from fragile masculinity feel more manly when driving the family hauler, as the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T (for Road and Track) version was overwhelmingly cosmetic, with just a slight increase in spring rate to improve handling. In 2012, Dodge made a change to the front anti-roll bar and added auxiliary front springs. Nothing was added to the engine's 283 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque rating, and it retained its zero to 60 mph time of 7.9 seconds and low-rolling-resistance all-season tires.

Dodge
Dodge

Saturn Vue Redline

Saturn was a GM brand designed to take on Japanese import cars. It was formed in 1985 but went defunct in 2010 after producing a short series of forgettable cars. The Vue was a small crossover that lasted for two generations and, with the help of Honda, had a high-performance version called the Redline. High-performance is a relative term here, as it used the same Honda-sourced V6, making the same 250-horsepower that could be optioned on the standard model. Part of that deal was also Honda's five-speed transmission, and together they made the Vue one of the quicker crossovers of the time with its 6.6-second 0-60 mph time. The main differences between the Redline and the standard trims were a lower ride height, larger wheels, a body kit, and a sport-tuned power steering calibration.

Saturn
Saturn

Chrysler PT Cruiser GT

When Chrysler first showed the heavily retro hot rod-styled PT Cruiser concept, it looked amazing. When it arrived on the market, it won awards. However, it was a watered down, cheaply built front-wheel drive hatchback powered by a choice of four-cylinder engines and with styling that only blurry-visioned Boomers could love. A turbocharged version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder was introduced later with 180 hp. Then the GT version arrived in 2003 to turn the PT Cruiser into a hot hatch using an upgraded version of the turbocharged engine that was shared with the Dodge Neon SRT-4. With 230 hp under the hood, unique alloy wheels, and a body kit, the PT Cruiser was transformed into a car that, for some reason, people bought instead of a Dodge Neon SRT-4. Except you couldn't option a Dodge Neon SRT-4 as a convertible.

Chrysler
Chrysler

Chevrolet Malibu Maxx SS

Over the years, Chevrolet has gone through periods of watering down the SS (Super Sport) badge, and one of the worst uses was the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx SS. The Malibu Maxx was the short-lived hatchback version of the Malibu and came about when GM was spraying and praying models out and onto the market in the early 2000s. It had a longer wheelbase than the Malibu, which was put to good use in the back of the Malibu Maxx's cabin for passengers, but its bland styling didn't catch on. Chevy played with different trims to get some curb appeal, and one of those was an SS (Super Sport) version. Along with some sporty body upgrades and 18-inch alloy wheels, Chevy bored out the 3.5-liter V6 to 3.9 liters to make 240 hp and 240 pound-feet of torque. That was an upgrade of 39 horsepower and 19 pound-feet in a car that had no real use for it. It still had a four-speed automatic controlling the power. The transmission did have a function to change gears manually, but it was an awkward up-and-down button on the shifter.

Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet

Mercury Topaz XR5

The Ford Tempo and its slightly upmarket kin, the Mercury Topaz, were economical and affordable small cars in the 1980s. Neither deserved a sport-infused version, but Ford saw fit to create the Ford Tempo GLS and this Mercury Topaz XR5. The headline for the sport trims was the addition of the 3.0-liter Vulcan V6 pulled from the Ford Taurus and making 130 hp. That was mated to the Taurus SHO's five-speed manual transmission. Other upgrades included a stiffer suspension, a thicker front anti-roll bar, the addition of a rear anti-roll bar, and 15-inch aluminum wheels from the Escort GT and GXP. The XR5 added some body cladding and two-tone paint, a leather-wrapped steering, bucket seats, and a sportier gauge cluster. Both trims only lasted a year, and the 7.8-second zero to 60 mph time likely didn't help.

Ford
Ford

Toyota Celica TRD Action Package

We're going to buck the trend here and end the list with a pointless sports trim on a car that deserved better. It was, essentially, the TRD Action Packager the Toyota Celica is just a five-piece body kit for the GT and GT-S models. Toyota released it in 2000 and pretty much just advertised it as looking fast, as you can see from the TV advert below. It was cynical, but for some reason but the Action Package is still sought after today by nostalgic Celica enthusiasts.

Toyota

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