LOOKING for a medium-sized SUV with lots of variants, lots of engine options, and plenty of features? Enter the replacement for the 5-seat Holden Captiva, the 2018 Holden Equinox, and its five model options.
The five variants; the LS, LS+, LT, LTZ and LTZ-V, offer a range of engine options (including the 1.5-litre turbo we sampled in the LS+ and the 2.0-litre turbo power plant found in the LT). There’s front wheel and all wheel drive options too.
You’ll notice we said the Equinox replaces the 5-seat Captiva, and that’s true, there’s no other options other than five seats. But a 7-seat vehicle is coming, with the Holden Acadia set to fill the void of a three-row SUV for the Australian car brand.
On the outside, the Equinox is essentially the same across all the variants, with no significant body changes across the range, other than things like colour-keyed door handles and roof rails.
LED daytime running lights are a standard across all models, halogen headlamps for the bottom of the range, HID in the middle and LED for the top of the range makes up the only other major external variations.
Developed in the United States as part of the global General Motors model range, the Equinox has been engineered for Australian conditions, and is a good looking SUV; well proportioned, with good lines to accent the bonnet and provide definition.
To finish it off you get 17-inch wheels on the LS+ and 18-inch versions on the LT, and both look great, with the wheels and tyres housed within a black trimmed wheel arch that blends into the black skirts that run around the entire vehicle.
For the Equinox, its major differences are on the inside, with a wide variety of materials, finishes and inclusions.
From a safety perspective, the LS+ and the variants above it feature forward collision alert with heads up display, autonomous emergency braking, following distance indicator, and a lane departure warning system.
Both our test vehicles also had lane keep assist, which for a car at this level is surprisingly smooth and responsive, and safety seat alert. This last one is interesting, and if your not told about it will literally scare the crap out of you.
It works like this. Whenever you are leaving your lane, or about to reverse into something, you get a visual alert and you also get a physical alert, in the form of a vibrating seat.
It’s also smart enough to vibrate your right buttock if drifting to the right and visa versa for the left and the rear of the seat pan for reversing into things, where as forward collision is the entire pan (along with the red warning light).
If you’re anything like some of the Exhaust Notes Australia team, you have the music pumping to drown out the world. So having the vibration alert is great as it gets your attention no matter what.
Now that we’ve sorted safety, let’s crank those tunes. The LS+ and LT get different sized infotainment screens, but weirdly, they also get different software systems; very different software systems.
The LS+ infotainment system looks dated, is pretty ordinary to use, and quite frankly not that nice at all. Conversely, the LT infotainment software is awesome, easy to use, and super responsive to boot.
It’s an odd scenario. It’s almost like two different companies are building the same car. All models in the Equinox range get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a solid six speaker sound system in both test vehicles.
The two top model options get a premium Bose system as well. The LS+ gets a single USB point in the front, while the LT gets dual front and rear USB plug points, while there’s well positioned cup holders (that are even a decent size) in all variants.
There’s plenty of storage and good leg room up front, with reasonable leg room in the rear as well. Right then, decent sized coffee in the decent sized cup holder. Voices in the head drowned out by kick-arse tunes. Time to get comfy.
Um, yeah, no actually. It’s a 4-way manually adjusted driver’s seat. There’s no lumbar support, and in the LS+ there’s no seat heating either. The LT does have that, but little else. You’ll need an LTZ or LTZ-V for electric seats and lumbar support.
Surely in 2018, lumbar support is a given, especially in an SUV. Time to do some actual driving, in a car that comes with all the acronyms; ESC, ABS, EBD, EBA and TCS (just make it up if you don’t know what they stand for). Just know it all works well.
All variants ride on MacPherson struts up front and multi-link rear suspension, and quite frankly the car handles okay, offering a pretty comfortable ride. But the Equinox is not a big fan of cornering too hard and could trouble an inexperienced driver.
Remember that fact as we look at the two different engines we had the chance to experience, starting with the direct injection 1.5-litre 127kW 4-cylinder turbo in the LS+.
It’s surprisingly powerful, with 275Nm of torque, and we were seriously impressed with just how capable it was, even though it does sound a bit tortured at times. We couldn’t repeat Holden’s claimed 6.9-litres/100km though, our best was 7.5-litres/100km.
Jump into the 188kW LT, with it’s 2.0-litre turbo 4-cylinder that pushes out 353Nm of torque, and it’s awesome power and serious acceleration all round; and believe it or not, that’s the problem.
It’s too much power for the platform, and the brakes, suspension and steering just don’t match what’s required to hold onto that power, and to give it decent cornering capabilities – it almost felt life threatening.
Holden advertises 8.4-litres/100km for the 2.0-litre power plant, but we couldn’t get it below 10.0-litres/100km.
The 2018 Holden Equinox offers plenty of choice and multiple variants and engine options, and you can also choose from a range of cool colours, including Summit White and Glory Red, Nitrate Silver, Son of a Gun Grey, Pepper Dust, Tuxedo Black and Blue Steel.
To capture your sensible LS+ your looking at $34,990 drive away, while scary spice (the LT) will cost you $39,990. The range topping LTZ-V is $50,496, and it comes with a seven years warranty and seven years’ roadside assist.