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.

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