Holden Equinox VS Hyundai Tucson
- Drives very well
- Great drivetrains
- Lots of choice for buyers
- Interior not very special
- Base model lacks safety kit of rivals
- May be thirsty in the real world
- Interesting design
- Nice interior in all grades
- Bigger and comfier for passengers
- No hybrid or EV tech at all
- Halogen headlights on two of three grades
- Prices getting up there
It has been a long time coming, but this is it - the replacement for the Holden Captiva.. sort of. It’s the 2018 Holden Equinox, a new mid-sized model that will take the fight to some of the most established and successful SUVs on the Australian market.
The competitive set is daunting for a newcomer - we’re talking the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V… Some big selling models from some big name brands.
It’s not as though Holden hasn’t had a presence in this market in the past, though. The company has had the Captiva in the medium segment in the past, and there’s still going to be the seven-seat Captiva, which will soldier on as the brand’s offering in that space until the all-new Acadia arrives later in 2018.
As such the Equinox is purely a five-seat offering, and a roomy one at that - plus, there are five different versions for customers to choose from: the base model LS, the safety-focused LS+, the mid-spec LT, well-equipped LTZ and flagship LTZ-V.
So, how does it stack up? Read on to find out.
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Hyundai Tucson 2021 range has arrived, and it follows the well-trodden path of its predecessor. Sure it’s much more high-tech inside, has more advanced safety technology than ever, and is also roomier and better packaged, too. But has it stuck too close to the traditional formula for an all-new car in 2021?
The new Tucson retains the choice of a couple of petrol engine and a diesel powertrain, and there is no sign of electrification in any form whatsoever - no mild hybrid, no hybrid tech at all, no electric version and no chance of any such car in the near future, either. Hyundai says there are insurmountable barriers to introduce such cars at viable prices.
“Imagine tomorrow’s car, today”. That’s the marketing tagline for this all-new Hyundai Tuscon, but if I think about tomorrow’s car, it certainly doesn’t have zero electrification as part of its model strategy.
That may not matter to you, and mid-size SUV sales suggest that about 85 per cent of current mid-size SUV customers are buying petrol and diesel models.
But with new competition coming soon with electrification as part of their arsenals, like the all-new Nissan X-Trail and the new-generation Mitsubishi Outlander, and established rivals like the RAV4 Hybrid and Subaru Forester Hybrid playing alongside challengers such as the MG HS PHEV, has Hyundai really brought us a glimpse of tomorrow with the new Tucson? Or is it more like yesterday’s tech in a present-day package?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Holden Equinox 2018 range has a lot of choice for buyers, and that will be enhanced even further when the diesel models arrive later in 2018. As it stands, there is no denying the Holden magic touch has been applied to the Equinox, and it drives confidently and comfortably in almost every situation.
It is let down by a bland interior with some questionable finishes, and an exterior design that looks a little dated for a brand new model in one of the most important segments in the market.
It isn’t a class leader, then - but it is among the better options in the class. This writer’s pick would be the LS+, which has the best comfort, peace of mind and a more-than-adequate drivetrain for most people’s needs.
Would you go for the 1.5-litre model? Or do you subscribe to the notion that there's no replacement for displacement? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Hyundai Tucson cuts a fine figure and has a very interesting interior that is more practical and likeable than the existing model. But there are some elements of the range that don’t stack up, like those old-school engines that certainly don’t make it feel like “tomorrow’s car, today”.
Without driving the turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel models it’s hard to make a definitive call on the pick of the range, but one thing’s for sure - it isn’t a Tucson with the 2.0L engine.
We look forward to spending more time in the other Tucson grades, and giving you different perspectives.
I guess you could say that it is interestingly styled, in that it doesn’t really look very much like anything else in the Holden stable.
I mean, if you squint you can see a bit of Astra sedan (Chevrolet Cruze) about it, and maybe some Trax, too. Some makers are nailing the whole 'brand identity' thing, but that’s not so easy for Holden, which has sourced from the European market and the North American market. The Equinox, for instance, is built in Mexico, primarily for the US, where it sells in big numbers.
That aside, there’s something about the look of it that has a familiarity to it. I personally think it would have been right at home in a 2005 model range line-up, because there are a lot of deep character lines and swooshes, stuff that has seemingly gone a bit out of fashion in recent years as companies push for 'European styling'. And in the same breath, I’d say that the D-pillar is more than a bit reminiscent of a Mercedes-Benz GLE…
The entry-level models have 17-inch wheels with big chubby tyres that look a little naff, but 18s and 19s on the higher-spec versions, not to mention the LED headlights on the flagship LTZ and LTZ-V (models below have LED daytime running lights).
The interior falls short of the styling highs we’ve seen in competitor cars, too. It isn’t as high-tech or sexy as, say, a CX-5, Tucson or Sportage. But it does have the practicality side of things sorted.
It’s larger, more accommodating and more interesting to look at than ever before. The new Tucson is nothing like the old one in terms of its design, and you’re either going to love it at first sight, or it’s going to grow on you.
Your neighbours won’t confuse it with a RAV4, Forester, X-Trail or Outlander, that’s for sure - despite the fact it’s closer to those models in size than ever.
The new Tucson spans 4630mm on a longer 2755mm wheelbase, and it’s 1865mm wide and 1665mm tall.
That represents a sizeable shift compared to the previous model (4480mm long, 2670mm wheelbase, 1850mm wide and 1660mm tall).
The new-generation Tucson is boldly different in its styling, with some eye-catching lines and interesting angles to it. Are you a fan? Tell us in the comments section!
The front end has a really interesting design, with daytime running lights that seemingly disappear into the wide grille - they’re amazingly integrated and really, really interesting to look at. They’re dull in Park, but in Drive or Reverse they’re brighter. Neat.
It’s a real head-turner from a forward-facing perspective, but - as mentioned above - in the two lower grade models you don’t get LED headlights unless you option the N Line Pack, and as you can see, the yellow lighting really cheapens the look.
In profile is where you might be amazed by the metalwork, and you mightn’t be all that surprised to learn the same man who oversaw the design of this car also penned some of the most iconic, triangulated Lamborghini models.
You’ve gotta hand it to Hyundai’s steel pressing team, the creases and sharp edges here are spectacular. I just hate to think what could come of them with a few shopping centre car park dings.
Wheel size and design varies by model, 17s on the base car, 18s on the mid-spec Elite, and 19s on the top-spec Highlander - while N Line Pack versions all get identical 19s.
The back end almost looks like a Mustang (or a Kia Sorento), but with a bold light strip across the tailgate it has its own look. But again, the lack of standard LED lighting on the lower grades isn’t awesome. I also don’t love the way the Tucson badge sits at an angle, but that’s just being nitpicky.
While it’s all sharp lines and edgy bits on the outside, the interior design is almost at odds with the exterior.
It’s soft, with rounded design elements, swooping trim features and an interesting story with the screens offered - the base car gets a smaller media screen, the mid-spec gets the big media screen but still analogue dials, and the top-spec has the full digital look. Is that good enough in 2021? You be the judge.
What’s for sure and certain is that the exterior and interior design offer something interesting enough to shake up the segment, while also offering better practicality and convenience for customers. Check out the interior images below.
The Equinox is undoubtedly one of the more practical and spacious models in the segment - up there alongside the brilliantly practical Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan - and a lot of that comes down to the fact that there aren’t seven seats squeezed in, and it’s on the bigger side of things for the class.
With dimensions of 4652mm long, a wheelbase of 2725mm and a width of 1843mm, it certainly has the supersized American market in mind. For context: Toyota RAV4 is 4605mm long (2660mm wheelbase) and 1845mm wide; Hyundai Tucson is 4475mm long (2670mm wheelbase) and 1850mm wide; Mazda CX-5 is 4540mm long (2700mm wheelbase) and 1840mm wide.
The result of the Equinox's extra footprint is a roomy cabin, easily large enough for a family of five. There are three top-tether anchor points and dual outboard ISOFIX attachments, and Holden claims a massive, class-leading boot capacity of 846 litres with the back seats in place, and 1798L with them folded down in a 60/40 fashion.
The higher-spec models have remote release levers in the boot area to drop the seats, too, and the LTZ and LTZ-V versions have a hands-free tailgate, which is handy if your digits are otherwise occupied.
There are cupholders up front and in the back, and the door pockets are a good size, too, with space for a bottle or (fold-up) umbrella. A central storage bin in front of the gear selector allows enough space for wallets and phones, while the console between the front seats is massive.
High-spec models (again, LTZ and LTZ-V) have four USB ports to keep the kids’ devices charged on road trips, plus there’s a 230-volt powerpoint in the back seat. The rest of the range makes do with a single USB port, and a couple of 12-volt plugs.
The media system you get depends on the model you choose. LS and LS+ models have a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring tech and Bluetooth, while the LT, LTZ and LTZ-V have a slightly more attractive (but no more intuitive) 8.0-inch touchscreen with the same tech, plus sat nav (including live traffic updates).
The interior presentation is a little bland and dated, and there’s an array of hard plastics throughout that don’t imbue the cabin with a sense of luxury - while competitor SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan can feel like expensive cars that have been de-specified, the air the Equinox gives off is one of a more affordable car that has been tarted up.
That’s not to say it’s unpleasant - I liked the leather on the seats in the up-spec models (and the seat cooling on the humid day of my test drive), but I reckon the fabric trim in the lower-spec models has a bit more character and charm to it.
The interior of the new Tucson is a massive departure from the existing model, and while it’s all swoopy looking inside, a lot of thought has gone into the fit, finish, materials and perceived quality.
This interior treatment with the curvaceous dashboard finish is reminiscent of some luxury brands in its application, with large elongated vent finishes and lots of premium high-quality feeling materials.
In the Highlander model with the digital dashboard (or any grade with the N Line pack), you might think that a screen without any form of cowl to shadow the instruments from the sun could lead to some glare issues – but that didn’t seem to be the case during our time in the car.
The more conventional instrument cluster design found in the base and mid-grade cars is fine, but not quite as 2021.
The media screen is – depending on the model – quite good. The lower grade version runs an 8.0-inch screen that doesn't have sat nav and uses only wireless Apple CarPlay (you cannot use USB-connect for CarPlay), and the screen is a little fidgety.
I tried for 10 minutes to get my phone (an iPhone XS) to work with it, and even with one of Hyundai’s tech guys there, it simply wouldn’t connect. My co-driver’s iPhone 12 Pro hooked up instantly. Be sure to test your phone in the dealership.
The screen in that base car does look a little less appealing and less impressive than in the higher grades with the 10.25-inch screen - it has a lower resolution display, but at least there are tuning and volume dials.
The higher-spec screen has a series of touch-sensitive buttons for volume and tuning (and all other operations) which can be hard to hit on bumpy roads.
Around the infotainment screen - no matter the grade - is a swathe of piano black trim, while the dashboard has neat cloth trim across the top, and the doors mirror that trim finish.
The seats - cloth in the base car, leather in the higher grades - are comfortable and offer good adjustment.
I’m not a huge fan of the look of the steering wheel, but the controls fall to hand easily enough, with cruise, active safety and volume / tuning adjustments all possible at the driver’s fingertips. Maybe the lack of knobs and dials isn’t that big an issue, then?
The cabin has very good storage throughout, including large bottle holders with storage caddies in the doors (front and rear), while up front there is a pair of cupholders between the seats, a wireless phone charger storage tray front of the shifter and another small storage section for your wallet and keys. There’s also a covered centre console bin and a reasonably sized glove box.
In the back there are mesh map pockets and a flip down armrest with cupholders in all three grades, plus there are directional air vents for all models, and a pair of USB ports for charging devices (plus two more up front).
The rear seat space is exceptional for adults. I’m 182cm / 6’0” tall, and easily fit behind my own driving position. Legroom is excellent, toe room generous and headroom good, even with the panoramic sunroof in the top-spec model. The width of the cabin is better than the last model, and you can fit three across if you need to.
If your rear seat passengers are smaller/younger, there are two ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top tether points. And, happily, the rear doors open almost 90 degrees, allowing easy load-in and step-in for occupants of all ages.
The boot space is claimed to be 539L (VDA) which is very good for the class, and we managed to fit the CarsGuide luggage and a folding pram in the cargo zone with a little bit of room to spare.
Speaking of spare, there is a full-size alloy under the boot floor of every single version of the Tucson, which is a big tick for country and rural buyers.
Those rear seats do fall flat to allow up to 1860L (VDA) of flat storage space. Very accommodating.
Price and features
The new Holden Equinox 2018 model range isn't the outright most affordable mid-size SUV on the market, nor is it pushing the limits in terms of pricing. It's a middle-ground player.
The entry-level Holden Equinox LS is the only model available with a manual transmission, and it starts things off at $27,990. The automatic version adds two grand ($29,990). It's powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, and is only available in front-wheel drive (FWD).
The LS has 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, and the automatic has what Holden calls 'Active Noise Cancellation'.
Next up in the range is the LS+ at $32,990, which runs the same 1.5L auto drivetrain as the LS. The LS+ adds a leather steering wheel and power folding side mirrors.
It also adds a heap of safety equipment - some of it, arguably, that should be included in the low-spec car.
The list is topped by auto emergency braking (AEB), but packaged alongside that tech is a range of other potentially life-saving stuff: lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
Additionally, there’s blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto high-beam assist, and Holden’s 'Safety Alert' driver’s seat, which will vibrate to warn the driver of potential hazards.
Next up the list is the LT, at $36,990, which gets a bigger engine than the two lower-spec models - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit with plenty of extra poke: 188kW and 353Nm, or about 48 per cent more power and 28 per cent more torque than the entry-level cars. Gone, too, is the six-speed automatic, with a new nine-speed auto transmission taking its place. A diesel will be available later in 2018.
The LT builds on the LS+ model, upgrading to 18-inch alloy wheels, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, sat nav with live traffic updates, four USB points (two front, two rear) a 230-volt powerpoint in the second row, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and provision for roof-rack mounting.
The LTZ uses the same 2.0L drivetrain, and is available in FWD at $39,990 or all-wheel drive (AWD) at $44,290. A diesel will come for it, too.
It upsizes to 19-inch alloy wheels, while also adding a hands-free power tailgate, semi-automated parking (parallel and perpendicular), rain-sensing wipers, leather-appointed seats, wireless phone charging, heated front and rear seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, roof rails, DAB+ digital radio, LED headlights and tail-lights, and a Bose premium sound system.
The flagship LTZ-V comes solely in AWD and costs $46,290 - which effectively makes it a $2000 jump over the LTZ AWD, running the same 2.0L/nine-speed auto. A diesel will be offered later.
The LTZ-V adds a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, power adjustable passenger seat, and ventilated (cooling) front seats.
So, there’s something for everyone, really. I just reckon maybe the LS and LS+ should have been merged into one model with the safety kit…
The Hyundai Tucson has long been one of the value players in the mid-size SUV market, often with drive-away deals done for less than thirty grand.
That’s not going to be the case this time around, with prices up across the board, and while there have been a number of additional safety items added, some of the exclusions seemingly make the inclusions and price adjustments look a little bit questionable.
Here’s a price list to help you understand the range - it’s a little complicated. Oh, and yes, the base model is known simply as Tucson, with the mid-spec model the Elite and top-end grade being the Highlander.
|Tucson (MSRP)||Elite (MSRP)||Highlander (MSRP)|
|2.0 MPi 2WD||$34,500||$39,000||$45,000|
|1.6 T-GDi AWD||$43,000||$50,000|
|2.0 CRDi AWD||$45,000||$52,000|
As you can see, there’s one powertrain for the base model, and three engine options for the mid- and high-grade versions.
Standard equipment for the Tucson grade includes: halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four USB ports, tyre pressure monitoring, a 4.2-inch driver info screen, drive mode selector (Eco, Normal and Sport), cloth seat trim, manual adjust front seats, manual air-conditioning, turn key ignition, auto folding door mirrors, and 'premium door and dash trim.'
The Elite grade scores plenty of extras including 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, leather seat trim, heated front seats, power drivers seat adjust, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, rear tinted glass, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav - plus a couple of added safety items. But you’re still getting halogen headlights on a car approaching $50K on the road. Yikes.
Topping the range for now is the Highlander variant, again available with a choice of three powertrains - but those prices are getting high.
Features include 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, LED rear lights, LED interior mood lighting, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, Bose sound system, power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree surround view camera, and something called a 'passenger walk-in device', which is a set of electric seat adjustments on the front passenger seat that the driver can control.
I think it’s really poor Hyundai is offering halogen lights (they’re not very good on dark roads, I tested them!) on a car featuring so much other new tech. And if you hate that as much as me, fear not - there is a way around it.
Buyers can option the N Line pack on all grades, and here’s a rundown of the prices with that pack:
|Tucson w/ N Line Pack (MSRP)||Elite w/ N Line Pack (MSRP)||Highlander w/ N Line Pack (MSRP)|
|2.0 MPi 2WD||$38,000||$41,000||$47,000|
|1.6 T-GDi AWD||$45,000||$51,000|
|2.0 CRDi AWD||$47,000||$53,000|
The model grade you apply the pack to will determine the extra equipment you get. And it actually looks like pretty good value for all grades, with the Tucson adding $3500, the Elite adding $2000 and the Highlander $1000.
The brand reckons 50 per cent of customers will choose the pack - I’m not so sure that’ll be the case.
But what you get is worth the money. In the Tucson you add 19-inch alloy wheels, leather and suede seats, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, LED front and rear lights including auto high beam lighting, gloss black grille, N Line skid plate design, N Line badging and the N Line sports body kit.
For the Elite, the changes are identical. For the Highlander, you’re switching 19s for 19s, and you already have all the LED lighting, the 10.25-inch driver screen, so it’s more a cosmetic upgrade inside and out. But for $1000 it’s enticing.
In a hurry to get your new Hyundai Tucson, and after one that’s not a 2.0L petrol? There’s bad news. The Tucson 1.6T AWD won’t arrive until June, while the 2.0D AWD models will be here in the third quarter, along with any models fitted with the N Line Pack.
Colour choices for the Tucson range include: 'Shimmering Silver', 'Amazon Grey' (actually dark green), 'Silky Bronze', 'Deep Sea Blue', 'Crimson Red', 'Titan Grey', 'White Cream' and 'Phantom Black.' Only white is no cost, the rest are $595.
For the Tucson grade the interior is black cloth, while Elite has black leather interior trim. The Highlander can be had with black leather, grey leather, or brown leather trim.
Changing from black to the other colours adds just $295 to the price.
Engine & trans
The entry-level engine offering is a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 127kW of power and 275Nm of torque. It comes with a six-speed manual (LS only) or six-speed automatic, and is FWD only.
The other drivetrain on offer is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with a class-leading 188kW of power and 353Nm of torque. It is solely mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, but can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive (the LT is FWD only, the LTZ is FWD with the option of AWD, and the LTZ-V is AWD only).
The AWD model employs a clever system that can allow the driver to effectively disconnect the rear drive axle, in order to help save fuel - it is controlled by a button near the gear selector. If the car is in AWD mode it will generally default to front-drive, but can split torque up to 50:50 front to rear if slip is detected. The AWD model also has revised suspension and a higher ride height.
A diesel model will be added to the range later in 2018, with that drivetrain being a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit producing 100kW/320Nm. It will come exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, but will be offered in FWD or AWD.
Towing capacity is 750kg for an unbraked trailer on all models, while the 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel have towing capacity of 1500kg for a braked trailer, and the 2.0-litre petrol has a 2000kg braked towing capacity. That’s good, but not a benchmark for the segment (Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI: 2500kg).
All combustion engines for an all-new car? Seems a bit yesterday to me. Here are the details of what’s on offer.
The entry level engine is a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder unit (2.0 MPi 2WD), producing 115kW of power (at 6200rpm) and 192Nm of torque (at 4500rpm).
This multi-point injected motor is new to the Tucson line-up, but replaces the existing 2.0L direct-injection engine, which actually had more power (122kW) and more torque (205Nm). And keep in mind, this new Tucson is larger and heavier than its predecessor.
Stepping up the range of engines sees you arrive at a downsized 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, referred to as the 1.6 T-GDi, producing 132kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 265Nm of torque (from 1500-4500rpm). That’s just 2.0kW more than the old model.
It still runs a seven-speed (dry) dual-clutch automatic transmission, and it has on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD).
The top-end 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (2.0 CRDi) is a bit of a step up in performance, hence its higher cost.
Its power output is 137kW (at 4000rpm) and 416Nm (2000-2750rpm). That’s 1kW and 16Nm more than before, and the engine is 20kg lighter than before because now it runs an aluminium engine block (was cast iron).
It has a standard-fit eight-speed automatic transmission with on-demand all-wheel drive. Diesels also get a 'Terrain' mode for unsealed road driving.
Hyundai Australia says local cars come from the plant in South Korea, and importing any of the electrified versions from Europe would be cost prohibitive.
Our test only included time in the 2.0 MPi 2WD. See the driving section for impressions.
Claimed fuel consumption for the 1.5-litre drivetrain is 6.9L/100km for the manual and automatic variants. Our launch drive saw a much higher return, due to some pretty spirited driving: 10.4L/100km.
The 2.0-litre version is a bit thirstier, thanks to its extra grunt. It is claimed to use 8.2L/100km for the FWD model and 8.4L/100km for the AWD. On our launch drive, we saw 9.7L/100km
The diesel, when it comes, will be the most frugal in the Equinox line-up - exact figures haven’t been revealed at this stage, however.
Fuel consumption figures vary by drivetrain, as you’d expect. But you mightn’t expect that one of these new powertrains is actually less fuel efficient than before.
The 2.0 MPi (replacing 2.0 GDi) has official combined cycle fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres, which is 0.2L/100km higher than its predecessor.
The 1.6 T-GDi AWD model has an official fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km. It used to have an official figure of 7.7L/100km.
The 2.0 CRDi diesel AWD fuel consumption figure is 6.3L/100km. Last time around, the number was 6.4L/100km.
Obviously the fuel economy figures might not be representative of what you see in the real world, but during our test in the Tucson 2.0L models we drove, the figure we saw was 8.2L/100km. Note: a lot of that time was highway and country driving.
On the whole, the fuel consumption is class-adequate, but sets no new benchmarks.
It’s as though Holden’s engineers have waved a magic wand and made the Equinox - a big-for-its-class SUV - drive much smaller, and with much more confidence than you might expect.
The steering is the highlight - Holden has nailed the electric power steering system for feel and weighting, with excellent response whether you’re simply twirling the wheel at low speeds to park, or pushing it through a series of corners. There’s bugger-all in the way of torque-steer, too (that’s where the steering wheel will tug to the side when you accelerate).
The suspension, too, is a compliant and comfortable balance of control and plushness. Only in the models with the 18- or 19-inch wheels do you start to notice some terseness, and that comes down to both the extra weight of those variants and the lower profile tyres.
The LS and LS+, then, are the models that are the peachiest of the five variants. With 17-inch wheels and chubby 65 profile Continental rubber, the pliancy was excellent, as was the grip.
That said, the turning circle in the LTZ-V, in particular, is poor - 12.7m, which is worse than a lot of much bigger dual-cab utes.
The drivetrain in the LS+, too, was a fuss-free affair: it never felt underdone with two burly adults and some luggage on board, easily dealing with pushing away from intersections and rapid-fire overtaking moves without hassle.
The 2.0-litre is undeniably faster, and it’s also pleasantly refined. There’s a level of effortless to the way it pulls away, but it never really feels quite as potent as, say, the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI (with 162kW/350Nm) - and that is, in part, down to the weight of the Equinox. It’s a bit of a tubby thing, tipping the scales at 1778kg (kerb weight) in the top-spec LTZ-V. For comparison’s sake, the aforementioned top-spec Tiguan is 1637kg…
The moral here is, then, that less can be more. Make sure you drive the 1.5-litre…
Expecting a big leap forward here? Sadly, that’s not the case.
This all-new Tucson hasn’t been tuned to Australian tastes. Usually the brand tweaks and adjusts the suspension dampers and springs, as well as the steering tune, to suit our specific local desires. That didn’t happen this time around.
Blame COVID-19, but the brand has instead adopted a global tune, developed in the Korean company’s Namyang HQ, which has apparently passed rigorous testing Down Under.
Maybe the standards have changed, but this new model doesn’t drive “like an Australian Hyundai drives."
I’ve driven every single locally-tuned Hyundai product on sale today, and I can tell you the character and competency of this driving experience is different.
It’s softer, a bit wobblier, and a bit more conservative. It’s not as fun, not as tight and turnable, and feels a lot more targeted towards different tastes than the brand’s other interpretations.
The steering is light and lacks the directness and weighting that most other Hyundais have. It feels a lot less communicative, and just less likeable on the whole.
Plus it’s light and requires quite a bit of twirling at lower speeds, and the turning circle diameter is 11.8m, which is big for this size of SUV.
And the suspension tune might be fine for those who just drive on freeways or urban roads, but country road corners showcased noticeable body roll, and mid-corner bumpy sections made the back end feel skittish.
There is some pitter-patter over pockmarks, but on the whole, the suspension is fine. It's just that during turning manoeuvres at speed, it doesn't quite offer the level of control or balance we'd like to see.
We haven’t even got to the worst part of the drive yet, which is that 2.0-litre engine.
As mentioned above, the 2.0 MPi 2WD models were the only versions available to test at the launch drive, and if you’re in the market for a new Tucson you should wait to drive one of the other versions.
I don’t recall the 2.0 GDi in the last model being anywhere near as breathless as this “new” multi-point engine, and indeed, it was at times frustratingly sluggish in its response.
Up hills or when trying to overtake there was just not enough power and torque to give you the confidence you’d want, and the at-times confused six-speed automatic made things even more annoying, jumping between fourth, fifth and sixth gears in the hope of saving fuel.
You can (almost) get around it by selecting 'Sport' mode, which makes the transmission hold gears, or you can choose manual mode and dictate terms. But even then, it’s not like the motor gains 20 horsepower - it just revs harder.
As I said, if you just do flat-road highway commuting or drive around town at urban speeds, the engine might be fine. But ask anything more than the bare minimum of it, and you won’t be rewarded.
At least (when you’re not wringing its neck) the engine is quiet, and there’s an excellent level of noise insulation in the cabin for rough country roads, too.
One other observation was that, in the base model car, the rearview mirror (not auto-dimming) is considerably more prone to vibration than in the top-spec version, which is the only grade to get an auto-dimming rearview mirror. It can be more distracting than you'd expect.
It might all sound like bad news. But I need to make it clear this car drives better than some of the elder statesmen in the class. I’d have it over an Outlander or X-Trail, even with the 2.0L engine.
However, Hyundai has forged a path in this market to the point that we’ve come to expect more of the brand, and that it hasn’t really delivered on its potential is what’s most disappointing. Maybe the 1.6T and 2.0D models will change that. I look forward to finding out.
At the time of writing there hadn’t been an ANCAP crash test performed on the new Holden Equinox, but the brand made specific reference to an expectation of a five-star score during a presentation to media at the launch.
Still, there’s an elephant in the room - the LS. If it were 2014 we would have applauded Holden for offering a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, ESP and ABS, and six airbags in a family SUV. But it’s not 2014, and times have changed.
That’s what makes the LS’s lack of standard safety equipment disappointing, because the brand had the chance to take it to its mainstream rivals with a strong safety package across its entire model line-up. Yet here we are, and those on a tight budget will miss out on the latest tech - maybe those buyers will head to a Toyota dealer, as the RAV4 now has a pre-collision warning with auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure alert, active cruise control and automatic high beam.
You can’t get active cruise control on any Equinox, but every model from the LS+ up has safety kit coming out the wazoo. Those models have the 'Holden Eye' camera safety system with AEB, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning. Additionally, there’s blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto high-beam assist, and Holden’s Safety Alert driver’s seat, which will vibrate to warn the driver of potential hazards.
At the time of publishing there is no ANCAP crash test safety rating for the new Hyundai Tucson, but in theory it has the right equipment and technology to score the maximum five-star rating. It almost scores a perfect 10/10 here.
Standard is a forward auto emergency braking (AEB) system that operates between 10km/h and 180km/h for cars, and between 10km/h and 85km/h for pedestrians and cyclists.
There is also a system called 'Junction Turning Assist', which can stop the car from darting through an unsafe gap in traffic. It works between 10km/h and 30km/h, within set parameters.
There is adaptive cruise control that works at all speeds, lane keeping assist (60km/h to 200km/h), and 'Lane Following Assist' that reads the road markings to keep the Tucson centred in its lane (0-150km/h).
All grades also have blind spot monitoring with a system called 'Blind Spot Collision Avoidance', which can apply the brakes above 60km/h to stop you moving into the path of oncoming traffic. Also there is rear cross-traffic alert with auto braking.
The Tucson models all have 'Safe Exit Assist' to warn occupants if they’re about to open their door into traffic. There is also a 'Rear Occupant Alert' system to remind you to check the back seat.
The entry grade comes with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, while the Elite adds front parking sensors.
The top-spec Highlander adds a surround view monitor (360-degree camera), as well as 'Parking Collision Avoidance Assist', and the 'Blind Spot View Monitor' - a display in the driver info screen that shows you a camera feed of the view behind.
All Tucson models have seven airbags - dual front, front centre, front side, and full-length curtain airbags.
If you buy a Holden Equinox (or any other Holden) before January 1, 2018 you will get the brand’s limited offer seven-year/175,000km warranty. If you buy one after that, you’ll get the bog-stock three-year/100,000km plan - another peculiar move from Holden, especially for a brand that needs a good news story at the end of a treacherous year for the company.
The service intervals for the Equinox will be 12 months/12,000km, which is better than some of the other models in the company’s showroom that require maintenance every nine months.
As with all Holden products, the company will back the Equinox with a capped-price service campaign for the life of the car. The first seven services, no matter the engine, average out at $310 per go.
Hyundai has built a very strong reputation in the market, with a competitive warranty cover of five years and unlimited kilometres. It was early to move to that warranty cover, but most mainstream brands are equal to it now.
There’s up to 10 years of roadside assistance included if you service your car with the brand’s workshops, and why wouldn’t you?
There’s a choice of lifetime capped-price pay as you go servicing, or prepaid servicing plans you can roll into the cost of the car and include in your finance payments, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of what’s on offer if you can.
The 2.0 MPi 2WD has intervals set at 12 months/15,000km, with an average cover of $319 for the first five years/75,000km.
The 1.6 T-GDi model needs more regular maintenance, every 12 months/10,000km. It costs the same - $319 per year, but remember, that’s averaged over 50,000km not 75,000km.
And the diesel version has 12 month/15,000km intervals, averaging out at $375 per visit over the first half-decade.
The prepaid service plans are priced identically to PAYG maintenance, but you can choose from three-, four- or five-year options.