Now that the Holden Captiva is no more, Holden New Zealand has launched the Equinox, an SUV that shares nothing with the Captiva, but plenty with the world. The Equinox is General Motors’ best-selling SUV in the US, and it is sold in over 100 countries around the world.
But as with all General Motors sourced vehicles the Equinox has been tuned for local conditions by Holden Australia. That’s obvious from driving this top spec NZ$56,990 Equinox LTZ-V which has an extremely composed ride while resisting roll in corners.
The LTZ-V has a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine, and this 188kW power unit flings the Equinox along with a fair bit of enthusiasm. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is well behaved, shifting quickly and you can change gear manually if you want.
You won’t though, as the selector button is an ergonmic oddity of a rocker switch built into the top of the gear-lever. The awkwardness is emphasised by the tall storage box between the front seats, which pushes your left arm uncomfortably forwards. You might get used to it, but I was still feeling uncomfortable after a week with the car.
Another issue I have with the Equinox LTZ-V is the haptic feedback through the driver’s sear cushion. This is part of the alert system in the vehicle and vibrates either side of the seat base depending on say, if you were drifting out of your lane, or getting close to a parking obstruction. I do see it can be good, especially for people who have hearing difficulty, but I really found it uncomfortable.
You can turn the feedback off though, so there is that. The Haptic feedback can be set with or without warning beeps backing the system up, and I hate to sound like a rusty curmudgeon here, but the warning beeps are extremely loud.
Wait, I’ll correct that – they can be changed from extremely loud to something more akin to an air raid siren. I read the manual and went through the settings in the large dashboard display but still couldn’t find a way to turn them down. OK, it’s all set that way to, you know, warn you that something is going wrong, but I’d like to be able to customise the sound a bit more.
These are small things though, as the rest of the vehicle is very impressive. The seats both in the front and rear are comfortable, and in the LTZ-V you get heated seats in the rear while the front seats are heated and ventilated. I’m not usually a fan of ventilated seats, but you can set the system in the Equinox to cool at a low or high level, and the low level is just enough to be comfortable without making you feel like your butt is being frozen off.
There’s plenty of leg and head room in the rear, and an impressive amount of space in the boot, which has a powered hatch in the LT. There’s also a system that opens the hatch when you wave your foot under the tailgate.
The external styling of the Equinox is not my cup of tea as the feature line down the side makes the vehicle look like it has a big bum, but buyers can make their own decisions about that one.
Overall the Equinox is a good mid-sized SUV. It goes well, handles well, and is comfortable inside. It has a couple of ergonomic issues but other than that it’s an impressive offer from Holden. Unlike the Captiva…