By Sandy Myhre
Twice a year the sun crosses the equator and day when night are of equal length. It’s called the equinox and it’s the nomenclature chosen by Holden to describe their new SUV.
Is it equal to the crowded segment opposition? Yes, if it’s a mid-size SUV you’re wanting. In some ways it’s superior.
Most of the competitors are Japanese or Korean. The Holden Equinox is made in Mexico and the US version is Chevrolet’s the top-selling SUV. It’s third generation so it has an established pedigree and replaces the Captiva which was phased out two years ago so it’s a welcome addition to Holden New Zealand’s line-up after that lengthy gap.
This SUV is important for Holden because it’s the first model introduced here since Australian manufacturing ceased. The second is the ZB Commodore launched in mid-March and to die-hard Aussie car fans both represent a departure from what they’ve grown to know and love as home-grown.
But, in fact, Holden have had non-Aussie cars in their line-up for years – think Spark, Barina, Astra and the larger Colorado and Trailblazer for instance – and not many have complained bitterly about those not being built at home. Besides which, it’s been tuned for Aussie conditions, by an Aussie, with, a bit of tightening here and there and, by crickey, it works for NZ conditions as well.
A very welcome factor is price. The base model LS sells for just $35,900 and there are a substantial nine models to choose from including petrol and diesel engine options. Obviously the higher the spec the bigger the price and the top of the line sells for just under $60,000 which still represents good value-for-money given the specification list.
The LS has a 1.5 litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that’s turbocharged. The initial assumption was it might struggle a bit with a load on board but that was put firmly to bed around Northland’s hills, some of which are steep and winding. It managed exceptionally well and you had to keep reminding yourself it is, after all, only 1.5 litres, although turbocharged and with a six-speed box.
Some motoring journalist who have tested rivals say the two-wheel-drive Holden Equinox LS models out-perform the naturally aspirated competitors. Fuel economy hovers around 6.8L/100ks and with careful driving even that could be improved.
Neither does the base model suffer from specification envy. It’s well-equipped with keyless entry, rear park assist, electric park brake, heated mirrors, cruise control and so on. And for those who like to play with these things, there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.
Thankfully Holden have installed a big screen display unit so you don’t have to put the near-sighted specs on to see what you need to do, or squint without them. That sounds ageist but scrambling around to even see a button to push is uncomfortable and off-putting.
The point is, that although Holden will likely target a fairly young demographic in their marketing campaigns, they might consider the newly-rich who have opted for early retirement after selling their homes for mega in Auckland and moving to the regions. Northland is a prime example and one couple who asked about the Equinox when we parked outside the Four Square in Russell said it would be ideal for where they now live, on a generous plot in the Hokianga. They liked the price, too.
Cargo space is superb, given this is not a large SUV. The multi-function seat adjustments help of course but the cabin is spacious. And this being a mid-size SUV you don’t have to stand on a foot panel or a step ladder to climb into the thing or slither out of it clutching a roof rail and hope your feet will touch terra firma sooner rather than later.
In summary, the Holden Equinox is a car for all seasons and many reasons and in many ways more than equal to the opposition.