Equinox goves Holden a thoroughly convincing SUV package, reports Damien O’carroll.
With the demise of the smaller Captiva 5 and given the Captiva’s reputation for poor reliability, Holden lacked a convincing competitor in the medium SUV segment. Except for one thing; price. But now the Captiva is finally gone and will be largely unmourned, because its replacements are far better vehicles. And the first of those replacements – the five-seater Equinox – has now arrived, with the sevenseater Acadia coming later this year. The Equinox launches with a large range of models, engines and, indeed, prices, with the lower spec models more-or-less retaining the Captiva’s strong value for money equation. The local range starts with the FWD LS for $35,990. The LS is powered by a 127kw/275nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo engine hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. The LS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and push button start, rear park assist with a backing camera, a seveninch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, active noise cancellation, cruise control and an electric parking brake with hill hold. The LS+ adds a leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and Holden’s latest Holdeneye system that incorporates autonomous emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and automatic high beam assist to the LS spec, and costs $39,990. The Equinox LT can be had with a choice of either a 2.0-litre petrol turbo that produces 188kw of power and 353Nm of torque hooked up to a nine-speed automatic transmission for $43,990 or a 1.6-litre diesel turbo that produces 100kw of power and 320Nm of torque with a six-speed auto for $46,990. The LT is also FWD only and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhausts with chrome tips, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, embedded satellite navigation, a 4.2-inch full colour driver info display, front and rear park assist, dual zone climate control, HID headlights, one-touch folding rear seats and rear seat USB ports on top of the LS+. Next comes the AWD LTZ at $52,990 for the 2.0-litre petrol or $55,990 for the 1.6-litre diesel. While the diesel is AWD only, the petrol can be ordered as a 2WD for a reduction of $3,000. The LTZ adds 19-inch alloy wheels, advanced park assist, a six-speaker Bose audio system with digital radio, wireless phone charging, leather appointed and heated front and rear seats, powered drivers seat with a memory function, a handsfree powered tailgate, LED head lights and taillights and chrome roof rails. Finally, the Awd-only LTZ-V tops the range at $56,990 for the petrol and $59,990 for the diesel, and gains a dual panel panoramic sunroof, a powered passenger’s seat, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Being an American vehicle, the Equinox has a distinctly middle America bland feel to its lines, but remains a largely handsome and inoffensive vehicle to look at. Inside, build and material quality is admirably high, while the amount of hightech equipment jammed in for the prices is impressive. In all its forms, the Equinox boasts an impressive and superbly comfortable ride, while its handling characteristics are equally impressive within the restraints of its tall body and ride height. While generally commendably quiet, there was a lot of noise emanating from the rear, particularly when gravel hit the inside of the rear wheel arches. But the Equinox’s most impressive feature by far is the excellent range of engines, particularly the powerful 2.0-litre petrol and the entry 1.5-litre petrol. The larger engine is surprisingly powerful and moves the Equinox along a remarkable rate, while the smaller petrol is wonderfully flexible and its light weight makes the handling even more impressive. Overall, the Equinox is the best reason for not mourning the departure of the Captiva, as in all of its forms – it is a vastly superior vehicle. The looks may be a bit too American and if you live on a gravel road, the noise from the rear may be irritating, but that aside, the Equinox is a thoroughly convincing package in a very competitive segment.