POWER, NO GLORY

Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Lucy Ruther­ford

HOLDEN’S Cap­tiva SUV has had more scorn heaped upon it by the mo­toring me­dia than any ve­hi­cle I can think of.

It's usu­ally re­ferred to as the ‘Crap­tiva’ and with its less than ex­em­plary re­li­a­bil­ity record, some own­ers use an even less com­pli­men­tary ex­ple­tive that ends in ‘box’.

The Cap­tiva five-seater has now been re­placed by the Equinox, which we're test­ing to­day. Later in the year, the Cap­tiva name will dis­ap­pear when the seven-seater is su­per­seded by the Aca­dia.

The Equinox com­petes in the hottest SUV class, where the top sell­ers are Mazda's CX5, Hyundai's Tuc­son and the Toy­ota RAV4.

At the pointy end of the range, we're test­ing the LTZV, pow­ered by a 2.0-litre turbo (188kW/353Nm), with a nine­speed au­to­matic and se­lectable all-wheel drive. It costs $46,290 plus on-road costs. That's more than 50-large by the time you drive it home. It had bet­ter be good, then. Stan­dard fea­tures in­clude heated and cooled, leather­faced, power-ad­justable front seats; wire­less phone charg­ing; au­to­matic par­al­lel and per­pen­dic­u­lar park­ing; LED head­lights, Bose au­dio, ful­l­length sun­roof, re­mote en­gine start, hands-free power tail­gate and 19-inch al­loys.

Holden's premium MyLink in­fo­tain­ment fea­tures an eight-inch touch­screen, Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto con­nec­tiv­ity, nav­i­ga­tion with traf­fic up­dates, voice con­trol and dig­i­tal ra­dio.

The Equinox has a vi­brat­ing driver's seat cush­ion when the for­ward col­li­sion or rear cross traf­fic alerts are ac­ti­vated. You also get au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, lane keep as­sist and trailer sway con­trol, a rear cam­era and park­ing sen­sors.

The Equinox doesn't drive like $50,000.

The turbo is tractable and re­fined on a light throt­tle but when you put your foot down it's got way too much torque for the front-wheel driv­e­train to deal with.

It chirps the tyres, the steer­ing wheel tugs hard in your hands and the car veers from side to side.

In all-wheel drive mode, this tug­ging is less se­vere, but still ex­ces­sive.

The test car also had a se­ri­ous driv­e­train shud­der un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion that would have had an owner tak­ing it back to the dealer for at­ten­tion.

De­spite au­to­matic stop­start, which you can't turn off, it will use 10-13L/100km of premium in town, where a wide turn­ing cir­cle is an­other an­noy­ance. On the high­way, ex­pect 7L-8L/100km

When you have too many choices, mak­ing a de­ci­sion can be dif­fi­cult. So it is with the nine-speed trans­mis­sion, which dithers around when you want the next gear (or two) in a hurry, slurs its shifts un­der pres­sure, won't shift into top gear at Aus­tralian speed lim­its and gives no real ben­e­fit over a six-speed.

As you would ex­pect from Holden, han­dling is safe, se­cure and pre­dictable on the open road, with good con­trol on rough sur­faces. It ain't sporty, though.

Power with­out glory. Pack­ag­ing and equip­ment are com­pet­i­tive but the driv­e­train needs work and it's a style-free zone. You can buy a lot bet­ter at the price.

Ver­dict:

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