Equinox a more captivating Holden SUV
This might be a bit harsh, but I doubt many people will be sorry to see the Holden Captiva go when it is replaced by not one, but two vehicles: the five-seat Equinox at the end of this year and the sevenseat Acadia in 2018.
While both the Acadia and Equinox are sourced from General Motors in the US, the Equinox is actually built in Mexico in both left and right hand drive forms. We scored a quick drive in one this month at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground near Melbourne, ahead of its official launch.
Where the Acadia is big, butch and unashamedly an American truck in appearance (even though it isn’t underneath), the Equinox is styled far more in the American mid-size car vein, meaning it may come across a little over-styled and complex for some tastes.
There is a lot going on along the flanks, with quite a few swooping, intersecting lines and a slightly awkward D-pillar. It’s all somewhat reminiscent of the old Hyundai ix35; which, to be fair, a lot of people seemed to like.
While the outside may be somewhat polarising, the interior is far more decisively impressive. The 2WD model we drove boasted a nicely cohesive and high quality dash design, with a responsive touchscreen that happily eschewed the dominant trend of making it look like a tablet stuck to the dash.
The 2WD model also boasted some fantastically comfortable and enveloping cloth seats, while a 4WD high-spec model on display showed off some nice, good quality leather upholstery, with heated and ventilated seats in the front, and heated seats in the rear.
The Equinox also comes wellloaded with equipment and technology: LED headlights and daytime running lights, keyless entry and pushbutton start, wireless phone charging, phone projection, a power tailgate, embedded satellite navigation, a heated steering wheel, two powered USB ports front and rear and a full suite of safety and driver assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, haptic seat alerts, a rearview camera and advanced park assist.
While the Equinox is available with a 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine and a 1.6-litre turbo diesel, the 2WD model we drove at Lang Lang was powered by a 2-litre turbo petrol engine hooked up to a ninespeed automatic transmission. It was a pretty impressive combination.
Smooth, powerful and responsive, the engine hauled the Equinox along at a decent enough rate to get the brakes smoking after a spirited lap of Lang Lang’s hill circuit, while the nine-speed auto was a slick.
Having to channel a decent chunk of torque through the front wheels did see a degree of torque steer and scrabbling for traction from said wheels, but it was relatively well contained.
The steering was nicely weighted and had a good amount of feel for an SUV, while the steering wheel was particularly nice in hand.
Road noise was a bit intrusive on the rough surfaces, however, and under heavy acceleration an odd resonance from the exhaust was noticeable in the rear. But ride comfort was exceptional and the Equinox’s handling was generally quite impressive, particularly for an SUV.
This is because the Equinox is based on the same platform as the rather excellent-handling Astra, but don’t let this fool you into think the Equinox is small in any way – quite the opposite, in fact, as it boasted impressive rear leg room and a massive boot – which is actually the reason for that awkward D-pillar we mentioned earlier.
The Equinox is shaping up to be a far, far better thing than the Captiva, with all of the space and none of the low-rent build or noisy engines that car was cursed with.
While the very American exterior looks may polarise, the comfort and quality on show throughout will impress.
Now it will all just come down to pricing, something that was the Captiva’s strongest point.
Equinox is Holden’s replacement for the Captiva. It was revealed earlier this year . . . so you can ditch the camo, guys.