Holden has added an all-new vehicle to the already crowded family SUV Australian sales race. Though it’s similar in size to the ageing Captiva Holden tells us the Equinox isn’t a direct successor. In fact, some Captiva models will be sharing showrooms with the Equinox. We don’t anticipate that situation to last, but Holden is keeping its plans to itself.
Equinox is certainly a far more modern vehicle than the Captiva in style, technology and safety. A five-seat vehicle, the Equinox will be complemented by a larger SUV, the Holden Acadia, that’s offered with seven seats and is coming later this year.
The frontal look uses the global GM double-deck theme and it’s big, bold and certainly make a statement. We like the clever way the shut lines of the bonnet are shapely swages that almost disguise there’s an opening there.
The C-pillar has a clever slope that takes the visual boxiness out of the Equinox, yet the D-pillar is actually not far off vertical. This gives the best of both worlds – a voluminous load area in a vehicle that doesn’t look like a van at the back.
The LS+ adds a leather steering wheel, Holden Eye with autonomous emergency braking and other safety systems that alert drivers they aren’t paying attention.
Equinox LT has an 8.0-inch screen and adds satellite navigation. Moving up to Equinox LTZ gets you DAB+.
There are four USB connectors, two front, two rear.
Currently, Equinox power comes from one of two turbo-petrol engines, a turbo-diesel is scheduled for later in the year.
The smaller petrol unit is a 1.5-litre that produces 127 kW of power and 275 Nm of torque. The 2.0-litre turbo-petrol is virtually the same unit we will see in the ZB Commodore in a few weeks time. With 188 kW and 353 Nm it has plenty of useful grunt.
The 1.5-litre engine is the only one offered with a manual gearbox, a six-speed unit. We feel most buyers will opt to pay the added $2000 for a six-speed automatic.
The 2.0-litre Equinox benefits from a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Power is taken to either the front wheels or to all four wheels depending on model and engine. See the full list in our At a Glance section.
All models have a five star ANCAP safety rating.
Holden Eye, not fitted till you get an Equinox LS+ (the second lowset-cost model) and above has a multitude of features: Autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, rear crossing alert and automatic headlights with auto high-low beam.
Drivers who aren’t paying attention – a scarily common situation these days – are alerted to their stupidity by vibrations in the driver’s seat. We don’t particularly like the feel of this – which is probably a good thing as drivers can avoid the Holden wriggling their bums by watching where they’re going.
IsoFix child-seat mountings are fitted to the two outboard rear seats.
Getting in and out is simple due to the height of the seats from the ground. The front seats are large but we didn’t find them especially comfortable, feeling them too firm and not particularly well shaped. Obviously we are all different in shape and likes/dislikes, but may we suggest you try for yourself early in your pre-purchase stage.
The rear area can carry tall two adults in comfort even if the pair in front have their seats well back. A third adult in the back won’t be too squeezed. Three kids in the back is simple.
Luggage space is impressive and the area is nicely squared off and easy to load. The rear seat has a 60:40 split and can be lowered either by using the controls just inside the rear of the cargo area or from levers on the seatback.
There is a significant amount of extra space underneath the boot floor due to the fitment of a space-saver wheel. The standard floor can be removed to give added height.
Australian engineers worked on the Equinox in this country and the USA from the earliest design stages. Much of this concentrated on the steering, suspension and general road feel of the SUV to give it what keen Aussie drivers demand.
The result is a vehicle that handles almost like a sedan, though the steering feel is rather light in the straight ahead portion for our tastes. And obviously the higher centre of gravity means it cannot corner as hard.
Rough Australian backroads roll under its wheels for mile after mile without creating much disturbance in the cabin.
Noise intrusion it kept to a minimum and combined with comfort levels make this an excellent long distance tourer.
Fuel consumption during our test period was in the seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres range on motorways and easygoing country trips. It rose to nine to twelve litres around town. Both figures are acceptable for a petrol SUV in this class.
Holden Equinox is a bold looking SUV that should take plenty of sales in this crowded market segment thanks to its big offering of models and a price list that begins at just $27,990.
AT A GLANCE
LS 1.5-litre turbo-petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $27,990 (manual), $29,990 (automatic) **
LS+ 1.5-litre turbo-petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $32,990 (automatic)
LT 2.0-litre turbo-petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $36,990 (automatic)
LTZ 2.0-litre turbo-petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $39,990 (automatic)
LTZ 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door wagon: $44,290 (automatic)
LTZ-V 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door wagon: $46,290 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Driveaway prices for LS, LS+ and LT are shown below. Contact your local Holden dealer for drive-away prices on LTZ and LTZ-V..
LS driveaway prices: $29,990 (manual), $31,990 (automatic)
LS+ driveaway prices: $34,990 (automatic)
LT driveaway prices: $39,990 (automatic)