POWER, NO GLORY
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The Captiva five-seater has now been replaced by the Equinox, which we're testing today. Later in the year, the Captiva name will disappear when the seven-seater is superseded by the Acadia.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.