The new Holden Equinox marks the end of one of the most divisive models in the Australian brands range – the Captiva.
We took it out to see if it could tempt buyers back into a Holden SUV.
Literally, Equinox means the point when the equator crosses at the centre of the sun. Fitting then for a car that comes at a time when Australia’s local car industry is crossing over into having their lineups fully imported.
It’s direct predecessor, the Holden Captiva, was a contentious inclusion on many shopping lists for families looking for their next car. The Equinox hopes to change that by addressing many of the criticisms of the past – moving into a brave new future.
Walking up on the Equinox, the style difference is evident to most SUVs on the market in Australia. The flattish, long body stands out from the mini-4WDs/super-sized hatchbacks that other brands seem to emulate.
This is because the Equinox is sourced from the US-market, where the Land of the Free has given birth the distinctive, almost van-like SUV – remember the short-lived Holden Suburban at the turn of the century?
Luckily, it hasn’t just been a flip-the-steering-wheel-side job; the team at Holden have been tinkering away to make the Equinox suitable for roads here in Australia.
There are three engines available for the Equinox: a 1.5L petrol in entry models (LS and LS+), a 2.0L turbocharged petrol (as found in our test car) and a 1.6L diesel.
The Equinox drives comfortably and confidently, getting away from a standstill in a surprisingly quick effort. This is helped by the new 9-speed auto, which shifts swiftly and without fuss – making picking up the pace in the Equinox a breeze.
The AWD is unobtrusive, but gives the security of all four wheels when the road starts to get a bit tricky. By shutting it off via a button, it disconnects the drive power to the rear axle to save fuel.
Of course, a bulk of the Equinox’s life will be spent on unchallenging roads without so much as a piece of dirt on them; regardless, on rattling surfaces the SUV remains composed without feeling heavy, less than perfect roads are insignificant – even with the sporting 19” alloys on the LTZ-V.
Because the Equinox sits longer than other SUVs, there is less body roll than you would feel in a lumbering wagon that positions all of the seats towards the centre; while the suspension handles bumps and potholes with relative ease.
The Equinox has to soldier on as the only five-seat SUV in the Holden range until the full-sized Acadia arrives, so it has to set a good example as the entry point into the revamped range.
The LTZ-V comes fully equipped with all the mod-cons from leather everything, a panoramic sunroof and – thanks to the Americans – acres of space inside.
Tech is all sorted with powered tailgate, Android Auto/Apple Carplay enabled media system as well as wireless charging. I couldn’t get the in-car wireless charging to work on an iPhone X, with a thin case (which has worked on other wireless chargers.) Holden’s official video on it makes out that it will only work when the moon is aligned in a certain way, so hopefully it sorts itself out (or maybe it only works on Androids.)
The cabin is laid out in a fairly sensible, middle-of-the-road fashion, save for some strange design quirks. The plethora of buttons on the steering wheel blend in a little too much into the background, which means you have to take your eyes off the road to get your thumbs in the right place. Meanwhile the Hazard Lights indicator sits right underneath the volume and skip control buttons on the media system – meaning if you’re letting the palm of your hand rest there, you accidentally set off the warning lights.
In other areas, the Equinox does better. The powered tailgate works well, with a low loading height thanks to its squat profile meaning you don’t have to heave things past hip height and deep cubbies and storage spaces can carry almost anything you’d need for a long roadtrip.
Road, wind and engine noise is kept schtum thanks to superior sound deadening, even at highway speeds you can quite comfortably carry on a conversation without having to shout back over the coarse roar of tyres on bitumen.
The Equinox range kicks off with the entry-level 2WD LS manual at $27,990, rising to the top-of-the-line AWD automatic LTZ-V 2.0L petrol for $46,290.
Automatic transmission adds $2,000 on the LS only (all other grades have it as standard), while AWD is an option on the LTZ only (LTZ-V is AWD only, while all other grades are 2WD only.) Diesel model pricing is yet to be announced.
All prices above are before on-road costs, please confirm an exact price with your local Motorama Holden dealership. Premium paint is available at an additional cost – Summit White and Glory Red are no cost options.
The Equinox is covered by a 3 year/100,000km warranty, as well as 7 years of capped price scheduled servicing under Holden’s Know Your Cost servicing. Scheduled services are due every 12 months (up from every 9 months) or every 12,000kms, whichever occurs first.
While the new looks may draw people in, it would be no good if the actual car didn’t keep your interest on the road. Thankfully, with a thoughtful cabin layout providing a bundle of space as well as enough tech upgrades to make life uber-convenient, the Equinox is a solid family SUV option.