TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
The Holden Equinox is an all-new mid-size SUV that Holden is importing to Australia via General Motors’ state-of-the-art facility in Mexico as the replacement for the five-seat Captiva. It is available in a wide range of variants priced from $27,990 to $46,290 with two different petrol engines (a diesel is coming soon) in front- or all-wheel drive configuration.
Here we are driving a Holden Equinox LTZ, which is the variant below the range-topping LTZ-V. It is powered by a powerful 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine and costs $39,990 in front-wheel drive guise. Add $4300 on top of that for an LTZ with optional all-wheel drive.
- Performance: GM’s excellent 2.0-litre engine produces a hefty 188kW and 353Nm, which are high numbers for this class of vehicle. In fact there is no mainstream mid-size SUV that makes more power. It is a fast car, and it appeals to keen drivers. A slick nine-speed gearbox included in the package works well.
- Dynamics: Engineers from Holden spent five years working on the development of this car in North America and at home in Australia to make sure the suspension and steering were up to scratch. The work they have done has given Equinox a sporty feel that makes it fun to drive.
- Space: Rear seat leg room is generous, as is shoulder and head space. The cargo area is competitively sized and folds flat to accept most things a family will throw at it, though the rear bench doesn't slide meaning the boot layout is slightly less flexible than some rivals.
- Equipment: At this end of the Equinox line-up the LTZ features a long list of equipment. Included as standard are 19-inch wheels, leather-appointed heated seats front and rear, Apple CarPlay, digital climate control, a powered tailgate with gesture control, wireless phone charging, LED lights, digital radio and a raft of charging points around the car including standard USB and 12V sockets plus a 230V household plug in the rear.
- Styling: This is subjective, but to our collective eyes it’s unfortunate Holden hasn’t done much at all to tailor the Equinox’s look for our market. Instead it maintains a very American aesthetic with chintzy chrome trim and an over-the-top front grille. It’s a rather forgettable thing to behold.
- Finishes: A mix and match selection of hard, thin plastics comprise most of the Equinox’s interior. It’s not particularly nice to look at or touch. The centre console in particular is quite oppressive, but then again the old Captiva wasn’t any better and if you can see past these design considerations you’ll find a lot of other things to like.
- Economy: With so much power on tap the 2.0-litre Equinox LTZ does drink more fuel than its competitors. Holden claims 8.2L/100km, whereas its equivalent rivals use less.
- Shifter: Holden has managed to make an SUV with some driver appeal, but sadly there is no practical way to take manual control over the gearbox. There are no paddle shifters and the ‘Range Finder’ buttons atop the shifter are not intuitive to use on the fly.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
This is an extremely competitive segment currently led by the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan, with a raft of others hot on their heels, including the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander and Ford Escape.