Forget the new year, this is the beginning of a whole-new Holden. And 2018 might just shape as the most important year in the brand's long and storied history.

The end of local manufacturing - taking with it our homegrown favourites - means Holden is now an import-only company, so it can no longer rely on any kind of patriotism to shift Lion-badged product.

We won’t dwell on that again here (you can read all about it here), but suffice to say, the Holden of tomorrow - successful or not - will be unrecognisable from the Holden of yesteryear.

But worry not, says (a probably very worried) Holden, as there are a ton of cool cars en route to Australia that will keep interest in the brand pumping. And perhaps none are so important as the new Equinox.

The LTZ-V gets 19-inch alloys as standard. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The LTZ-V gets 19-inch alloys as standard. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The American (although it’s built in Mexico) mid-size SUV replaces the five-seat Captiva, and will enter the fray against some of Australia’s best and most popular cars (think Mazda CX-5). But if it can shine, it will mean some serious sales for Holden.

And if it doesn't? Well, that can't bode well for GM's Australian future. No pressure, then...

We spent a couple of weeks behind the wheel of the top-spec LTZ-V model to see how it stacks up.