ROAD TEST: Holden Equinox under family microscope
THE Holden Equinox is more than just a replacement for the unloved Captiva. It is, in common with the ZB Commodore, a key part of Holden's switch to a fully imported line-up. The range comprises vehicles that are more than just South Korean cheapies or outdated arrivals from overseas.
Priced from $29,990 on the road, the Equinox is driving right into the five-seater family SUV heartland.
ALI: This looks new and nice, but I don't recognise the name. I guess it's a replacement for the Captiva but what's the backstory?
PAUL: The Equinox is a Chevrolet from the US but built in Mexico. There has been some local development work. We're in the flagship LTZ-V with a huge amount of safety gear, a 2.0-litre turbo engine with on-demand four-wheel drive and lots of luxury.
ALI: I think it looks a like a Ssangyong at the back but I'm guessing Holden has other targets.
PAUL: The Mazda CX-5 is the obvious one, plus the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.
ALI: I see it's got five-star safety.
PAUL: This one gets there easily and even has vibrating pads in the driver's seat for safety warnings.
ALI: I'm liking all the fancy tech but the heated steering wheel is kinda useless for Australia.
PAUL: Ventilated front seats are good with cool air in hot weather.
ALI: I like the idea of opening the tailgate by waving your foot under the bumper but it didn't always work. It felt as if I needed both my feet under there - that wouldn't look very good.
PAUL: Those setups are fiddly. I've never found one that works all the time but I've got no other complaints.
ALI: The audio pumps, Bluetooth connection is simple and the satnav, which looks a bit basic, is easy to use.
PAUL: I don't think I'd be rushing into the LTZ-V just for a panoramic sunroof and heated wheel. I'd be just as happy with the LTZ - with wireless phone charging, LED headlights and Bose audio.
PAUL: I'm not really surprised that it drives so well, with compliant suspension and good punch from the engine. I don't like the 353Nm of torque that has the steering tugging. I also don't like the car wandering, when it's supposed to be on-demand four-wheel drive.
ALI: It didn't worry me.
PAUL: So, for once I come out as the leadfoot but it's not good when you have torque steer in a car that's an impressive drive in most ways.
ALI: It doesn't guzzle fuel as much as I thought. I love the alerts that vibrate the seat - it's much better than loud buzzers.
ALI: The turning circle is awful. It makes parking in small spots a little tricky. But the rear camera is clear and I like the parking assistance.
PAUL: It's loaded with driver assistance. The nine-speed auto is really smooth in traffic or just idling around in shopping centre, although I'd still like some shift paddles.
ALI: I didn't get to do a long run this week but hills are a breeze and so is motorway driving. I would be more than happy to take this car away for a longer drive as the seats can be individually positioned in the back and the fronts are pretty comfy.
PAUL: It's not a sports car but it drives well. I was thinking I'd prefer it to a Mazda CX-5, and it's right up there with the Tucson and Sportage for suspension control and quietness. It's another job done well by Holden.
PAUL: It works for me, from the comfort in the seats to the safety gear. The basic LS is light on safety equipment and this LTZ-V is over the top and too expensive. I'd definitely put an Equinox on the shopping list for a five-seater SUV.
ALI: We stashed a heap of bikes and scooters in this one. It's got heaps of space, probably bigger than the CX-5, which is my benchmark.
PAUL: But it's the basics that Holden has done right and that's the most important thing.
ALI: It's one to run against the CX-5 and that means it definitely gets The Tick.
PAUL: We can get on with SUV life in a car that is well worth The Tick.
HOLDEN EQUINOX LTZ-V
PRICE From $50,485 drive-away (Flagship, still pricey)
SERVICE 3 years/100,00km, $817 for 3 years (Good value, with 1-year roadside assist)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 188kW/353Nm (Punchy in all conditions)
SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert (Good)
FUEL 8.4L/100km (Thirsty for the class)
SPARE Space-saver (Holden can do better)
BOOT 846L (Fine for family of four)