Holden Equinox LTZ boasts an abundance of space, tech, value and a hint of luxury, but lacks a little polish
What is it?
The all-new Holden Equinox. Designed in America and made in Mexico, the Equinox replaces the elderly and underdone five seat version of the Holden Captiva and competes against the likes of the brilliant Kia Sportage, the talented Hyundai Tucson and the soon to be replaced Toyota RAV4.
New from the ground up, the Equinox promises greater family friendliness, space, comfort, technology and hopefully, reliability.
What’s it cost?
The Holden Equinox range offers customers a number of trim levels, options and engine choices. The range starts with the base Equinox LS manual which is priced from $27,990 plus on roads and climbs to $46,290 for the fully kitted Equinox LTZ-V
We tested the front-wheel drive version of the upmarket Equinox LTZ, which priced from $39,990 plus on road costs. Tick the box for all-wheel drive and you’ll pay nearly $4,000 extra.
Standard equipment on the Equinox LTZ includes forward collision alert with visual display, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert along with a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
As we’ve come to expect from new models in the Holden range, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with satellite navigation and voice control. Leather seats with heating for the front and outermost rear occupants make things a little more comfortable, as does the dual zone climate control.
Remote start and a power tailgate are thrown in for added convenience.
What’s it go like?
Surprisingly well, actually. The Equinox LTZ is powered by a 2.0 litre turbo intercooled petrol engine that produces a decent 188kW @ 5500rpm and 353Nm @ 2500-4500rpm and its mated to a nine-speed automatic that sends power to the front wheels.
The engine is energetic and eager to please and that broad powerband makes for brisk and easy overtaking and would be handy on those family holidays away. Acceleration from standstill is eye opening and the Equinox pulls away from traffic lights rather sharply indeed.
However, sending nearly 200kW through the Equinox’s front wheels presents some problems, especially in the wet. And those problems are wheel spin and torque steer.
If you’re intentionally – or even unintentionally – a little too liberal with the throttle in the dry, you’ll chirp the front wheels and you’ll go about your day. In the wet, though, there can be prolonged wheel spin and torque steer, which can be frustrating. That nine-speed auto is generally fine and keeps that turbo engine on the boil.
On the road the Equinox is generally pretty quiet and comfortable, Road and engine noise are relatively restrained and it’s a fairly relaxed cruiser, sans the wheel spin and torque steer.
Holden quotes an official fuel consumption figure 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle, we found that 10 litres was more reasonable, despite the fact that you can’t turn off the start/stop system at all. There isn’t even a button.
Ride quality too, is fine, although, some road imperfections can make their way into the cabin quickly and sharply. The steering seems to be the Achilles heel of the Equinox driving experience. The turning circle is enormous, and we found ourselves carrying out three point turns in places we’d never had to previously carry out three point turns before. Not ideal when you’re trying to guide the Equinox through a tight shopping centre or school car park.
One of the Equinox’s most interesting features are the parking sensors. Yes, really! Most cars beep with an increased level of franticness the closer you become to another object, like they’re having a panic attack that you’re going to bruise and or wound them. The Equinox doesn’t beep or shriek, oh no. Instead, it warns you of a potential collision with another object by vigorously vibrating the driver’s seat. And it’s rather effective.
What’s it like inside?
Mid-size SUVs are all about ease of entry an elevated ride height. The Equinox ticks both of these boxes. It’s easy to slip into those leather wrapped seats and thanks to a completely flat floor, you’ll be able to get three adult passengers across the rear bench with little to no fuss.
On the subject of seats, they’re comfortable enough, yet a little hard and unsupportive, and you get the impression that they were designed by larger-bottomed Americans.
Head, leg and shoulder room is excellent all round and there are storage pockets and power outlets dotted around the cabin. Just what the family – or busy people – need for hiding knick knacks and charging devices on the go.
In terms of ergonomics, the dashboard design is acceptable. We found the analogue speedometer – there’s a digital version, too – and tachometer a little too small, and it’s odd that there are buttons located on the back of the steering wheel to adjust the sound system volume and to flick through audio tracks. And here’s a handy hint: press the phone “hang up” button on the steering wheel to mute the audio.
Fit and finish could be improved. Materials were fine, but there was a rattle questionable rattle in the driver’s door and the car would occasionally alert us to leaving something on the rear seat when leaving the vehicle, even though there wasn’t anything there…
Generally speaking, though, the Equinox LTZ cabin isn’t a bad place to be.
What we like:
- Generous equipment levels
- Spacious interior
- Powerful and eager drivetrain
- It doesn’t look half bad
What we don’t:
- Some quality glitches
- Dreadful turning circle
- Silly steering wheel button design
- Torque steer
Sale or no sale?
This is a tough one. The Holden Equinox LTZ makes a strong case to an extent: it’s spacious, well-equipped and powerful, but it’s competing against some seriously talented opposition: the Kia Sportage is the darling of the small SUV world and does everything pretty much everything aplomb, the Hyundai Tucson is much the same and the RAV is a little dull and expensive, but it has that perceived Toyota quality and image.
In sum, the Equinox could very well be the car for you, just carefully study the opposition first.