HOLDEN’S FAMILY FRIENDLY EQUINOX

Holden_Equinox_front
Extremely keen to take an all-new direction following the closure of its factory Holden has introduced an all-new vehicle, tagged Equinox, into the hotly contested SUV field in Australia. The timing couldn’t have been better as buyers are almost queueing up to get into these practical vehicles.

Though the Equinox isn’t a direct successor to Holden Captiva, with continues in some variants for a yet-to-be-announced period, it comes pretty close.

Equinox is a far more modern vehicle than Captiva in every way. Modern styling, larger interior, high-tech drivetrains and, possibly most importantly, Australian tuned suspension.

The frontal look uses the next iteration of the double-deck theme used by GM globally in recent years. With a big emphasis on the lower section it’s big and bold. Particularly clever is the way the shut lines of the bonnet are shapely swages that almost disguise their real use.

We particularly like the profile which has sleek lines in the D-pillar that make it look almost SUV-coupe like, whereas the Equinox actually has a proper square rear to maximise cargo capacity.

This is a five-seat vehicle, though we can’t help but feel GM-H has a seven-seater in the pipeline, something that it denies – but we shall see. In any case a larger SUV, the Holden Acadia is due in 2018.

Equinox comes in four variants, all with a high range of standard features, good infotainment systems and excellent passive safety features.

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Equinox LS uses the 1.5-litre engine, rides on 17-inch alloys, communicates through Holden’s comprehensive MyLink system with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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. Interestingly, the latter do so by gently vibrating the driver’s seat rather than by beeping.

Equinox LT features of the LS are the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch screen with satellite navigation and heated front seats. Turbo-diesel power will be an option when it arrives next year.

Moving up to Equinox LTZ puts you on 19-inch alloys, leather trim, DAB+ on the radio, a powered driver’s seat. All-wheel-drive is an extra cost option.

Finally, the topline Equinox LTZ-V gives you a huge dual-zone sunroof, power on the front passenger’s seat, cooled front seats (just wonderful in Queensland at this time of the year and all the way through Summer). AWD is standard and the diesel in an option.

Holden_Equinox_interior

Equinox power comes from two turbo-petrol engines at this stage, with a turbo-diesel scheduled for 2018. The smaller petrol unit is a 1.5-litre unit. Before Holden enthusiast cry out in anger may be point out that modern engine design is years ahead of that used in older Holdens. This unit produces 127 kW of power and 275 Nm of torque.

The 2.0-litre turbo-petrol is virtually the same powerplant we will see in the ZB Commodore next year. With 188 kW and 353 Nm it has plenty of useful grunt.

The smaller engine is the only one offered with a manual gearbox, a six-speed number. Most sales are likely to be of the six-speed automatic transmission.

Buying the 2.0-litre Equinox powerplant adds a nine-speed automatic to the package.

Next year’s turbo-diesel Equinox will use a 1.6-litre unit, details to come later.

DRIVING
We drove a selection of new Equinox models in a drive program organised by Holden, in Noosa and the scenic hinterland areas behind.

The front seats are large and comfortable, the rears can carry tall two adults in stretch out comfort even if the pair in front have their seats well back. A third adult in the back won’t be too squeezed for shoulder and thigh room, but this family wagon will car three kids with ease.

Getting in and out is simple due to the height of the seats, this being a major reason why some buyers who are getting on in years chose SUVs instead of low-set sedans. Luggage space is impressive and easy to load.

Australian engineers have been working on Equinox in this country and the USA for several years. It comes as no surprise that 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, with good steering feel and minimum disruption from the at times rough Australian backroads under its wheels. Noise intrusion it kept to a minimum and long distance holiday trips can be made with ease.

SUMMING UP
GM-Holden’s new Equinox is a stylish family wagon with excellent interior space. Even the smaller of the two engines is likely to provide the sort of performance most owners want and you get a lot of vehicle in the lowest cost Equinox LS.

MODEL RANGE
LS 1.5-litre turbo-petrol FWD: $27,990 (manual), $29,990 (automatic)
LS+ 1.5-litre turbo-petrol FWD: $32,990 (automatic)
LT 2.0-litre turbo-petrol FWD: $36,990 (automatic)
LTZ 2.0-litre turbo-petrol FWD: $39,990 (automatic)
LTZ 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD: $44,290 (automatic)
LTZ-V 2.0-litre turbo-petrol FWD: $46,290 (automatic)
LTZ-V 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD: $50,590 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Holden dealer for driveaway prices.

NEXT – THE BIG ONE
Equinox is the last vehicle to be introduced by a very busy GM-Holden in 2017. The next launch is the big one, or should that be the Big One – the all-new German built Commodore.

A date still hasn’t been announced, but Holden does say it will be almost certainly be during the last two weeks of February 2018. Stay tuned and we will bring further news on this as soon as we can winkle it out of the company.

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