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Holden Equinox LTZ-V AWD petrol 2018 review

Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

5 Sep 2018 • 16 min read

Make no bones about it; the new Holden Equinox is a very important car for the Holden brand going forward. The medium SUV is dropping into an ultra-competitive, an ultra-popular segment of the Australian marketplace, and it really needs to bring its A-game in order to compete on level terms with incumbents like Mazda's CX-5, the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan's X-Trail.

We're also interested to see how the car does in the day-to-day role as an adventure vehicle. Can it cut the mustard when it comes to competing with the best in the class?

Is there anything interesting about its design?

While Holden was able to have some influence on the nose and tail treatment, you’re looking at a Detroit special that’s meant to do business in all four corners of the world. It’s inoffensive enough... but inoffensive may not be enough in such a hard-fought retail space. 

Holden was able to have some influence on the nose and tail treatment. Holden was able to have some influence on the nose and tail treatment.

Traces of GM’s dalliance with split grilles remain, but thankfully it’s underplayed, while the side profile still allows for plenty of light to get into the cabin.

Inside, it’s better than the long-serving Captiva... but again, it’s a tough space, and the Equinox needs to able to compete against resolved, confident interior spaces from the likes of Mazda and Volkswagen. It’s more shapely and stylish, sure, but it already feels a couple of years old... and the Equinox will be with us for some time yet.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Equinox LTZ-V is offered here with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and part-time AWD transmission, along with GM’s excellent nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The LTZ-Z tops the tree for the Equinox range, and sells from $46,290 plus on-roads. Compare that to the CX-5 Akera at $46,290 and the VW Tiguan 162TSI Sportline at $45,990, and you get the idea of how competitive the space is.

There’s plenty of gear aboard the LTZ-V, including Holden’s MyLink infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto mirroring and sat nav, automatic lights and wipers, LED headlight, DRLs and taillights, leatherette seats that are vented and heated front and rear, an inductive phone charger, Bose six-speaker audio, active cabin noise equalisation, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and four USB ports.

The LTZ-V rides on 19-inch alloys. The LTZ-V rides on 19-inch alloys.

Standard safety kit includes AEB with forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, roll over mitigation, front and rear parking sensors and auto high beam.

The LTZ-V rides on 19-inch alloys.

How practical is the space inside?

You'll find five seats aboard the medium-sized Equinox SUV, and there’s no third-row option available in this particular shape. The US-designed and Mexican-built Equinox presents well enough when you jump aboard, with plenty of subtle and not so subtle curves, creases and folds adorning the front of the cabin. 

The ergonomics in current Holdens aren’t quite as resolved as they once were, given that its cars are now plucked from other markets rather than being designed from the wheels up for local use. The Equinox, for example, is sold in several other markets and this does lead to knock-on ergonomic differences as GM attempts to create a one-size-fits-most profile. 

For example, the indicator and wiper stalks are awkwardly positioned behind the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself is oddly parallelogrammed in its profile, and its very thick rim makes it more difficult for small hands to get comfortable with it. 

The seats themselves are very short in the base, too, and don't offer a lot in the way of lateral support. They’re also mounted high in the Equinox, pushing drivers and passengers towards the roof, while the sunroof that's fitted to the LTZ-V drops the headlining down to uncomfortably low levels, both front and rear, for taller occupants.

Luggage space is an excellent 846 litres, which beats the CX-5, Tiguan, Nissan’s X-Trail and Mitsubishi’s Outlander.

  • The US-designed and Mexican-built Equinox presents well enough when you jump aboard. The US-designed and Mexican-built Equinox presents well enough when you jump aboard.
  • The seats themselves are very short in the base, too, and don't offer a lot in the way of lateral support. The seats themselves are very short in the base, too, and don't offer a lot in the way of lateral support.
  • The sunroof drops the headlining down to uncomfortably low levels, both front and rear, for taller occupants. The sunroof drops the headlining down to uncomfortably low levels, both front and rear, for taller occupants.
  • Luggage space is an excellent 846 litres. Luggage space is an excellent 846 litres.

Both front and rear seaters are treated to heated and vented seats, while the second row can be dropped with the tug on the lever in the boot area. However, we found it necessary to pull out the weirdly large centre seat headrest in order to get an almost-flat cargo area of some 1798 litres (or one large mountain bike with wheels on) to work with. 

Second rowers get a pair of USB ports and a 12-volt charging point, and even though there’s a 230v household socket in the rear of centre console, we couldn't actually make it work with an Australian-spec plug. 

The door pockets are very small, and the front doors can only hold bottles in reality. It’s a similar story for the rear. There's a map pocket behind the passenger seat, but not behind the driver. There are two cupholders in a centre fold-down armrest, and there are also ISOFIX baby seat mounts on the outside seats.

A space-saver spare wheel resides under the boot floor, under what has to be noted as quite poorly executed plastic trimming. 

When it comes to rear seat occupants, three can sit across the second row quite comfortably, although as mentioned, rear headroom is a little compromised for taller passengers thanks to the sunroof. 

What's it like for touring?

Even though Holden markets the LTZ-V as an all-wheel drive, technically it's not. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is backed by Holden's excellent nine-speed automatic transmission, but the drivetrain defaults to a front-wheel drive set up unless the all-wheel drive button is pressed, which then engages the rear axle. 

It also offers hill descent control, but with ground clearance of just 175mm (a CX-5 has 210mm, by way of comparison), and compromised departure and approach angles, the Equinox really isn't the first choice in going out and getting dirty. 

As well, the 19-inch rims and 17-inch space saver spare also means that the Equinox really is a citified vehicle. 

However, Holden’s managed to add 415kg to the Equinox’s towing capacity over that of its US cousin, specifying a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg of braked trailer.

What's it like as a daily driver?

People are voting with their wallets and snapping up medium-sized SUVs in droves, in part because of the wagon shape, and also because of ease of use. The Equinox, unfortunately, lets itself down in this regard, thanks mainly to a turning circle that is frankly ludicrously big. 

We initially suspected that perhaps the 11.4m turning circle was a result of fitting the vehicle with all-wheel drive, but every Equinox suffers from the same malady. It's a frustrating experience to turn into your regular carpark spot and find that you've missed it by a metre or more.

On the open road, the 1735kg Equinox is controlled, comfortable, and reasonably quiet. On the open road, the 1735kg Equinox is controlled, comfortable, and reasonably quiet.

Holden's engineers have localised the feel and the ride of the Equinox, and they’ve done a very good job considering that the LTZ-V rides on 19-inch alloys. Well-tuned and matched shocks really soak up the small around-town bumps that are so common in urban environments. On the open road as well, the 1735kg Equinox is controlled, comfortable, and reasonably quiet, though it can wander at the helm a little unless you're keeping an eye on it, thanks to an overly light steering feel.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-potter is good for 135kW at 5500rpm, and a healthy 353Nm of torque at a middling 2500rpm. It’s actually the same engine Holden uses in the new Commodore – and like its sedan cousin, the Equinox also uses GM’s truly excellent nine-speed auto ’box.

It’s sold as an AWD, but unless you press the button on the dash, it’s a true front-driver. It’s sold as an AWD, but unless you press the button on the dash, it’s a true front-driver.

It’s sold as an AWD, but unless you press the button on the dash, it’s a true front-driver; the rear axle is completely disconnected from the rest of the system in the interests of fuel saving.

Speaking of which, the Equinox demands a diet of 98 RON high-octane fuel, wich will add to running costs.

How much fuel does it consume?

Over a brief stretch of 210km of on-road driving, we logged a dash-indicated figure of 12.8 litres per 100km, against a combined fuel economy claim of 8.4L/100km. 

Its 55-litre fuel tank needs premium unleaded fuel, and it has a theoretical range of just over 650km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Standard safety in the Equinox is commendably high, and it has held a maximum five-star rating from ANCAP since December 2017. Six airbags, AEB with frontal collision and rear cross traffic alert are fitted as standard, while a haptic seat alert vibrates under your butt should you stray over a centre line or attempt to back into traffic, among other warnings.

it has held a maximum five-star rating from ANCAP since December 2017. it has held a maximum five-star rating from ANCAP since December 2017.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Holden increased its warranty duration in July 2018 to five years and unlimited kilometres, and five years of scheduled services will cost $1259, according to Holden’s fixed price service menu. Holden would like to see your Equinox every year of 12,000km.

Bear in mind the additional cost of premium unleaded, though.

The Equinox is a box jump in front of the old-school Captiva… but we wonder if it’s enough to stay up with current crop of medium SUVs. Its adventure chops, too, are restricted to light gravel and snow work, though its sheer capacity for luggage stands it in good stead.

Has the Holden Equinox made enough of a jump to get onto your consideration list? Let us know below.

$46,290

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.3/5

Adventure score

3/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'