CARS are becoming smarter, automatically doing more of the things we once regarded as being part of basic driving competency. So I can’t but wonder: will we, via some sort of devolution, lose the ability to do those simple things at all?
It was English naturalist Charles Darwin who advanced the theory of biological evolution, declaring that species develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that are essential to survival. So surely it can go the other way?
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Take the stretch, grip and pull manoeuvre long required to close an SUV tailgate. On a growing number of models this has been replaced by the press of a button and the near silent, but far less dramatic whir of an electric motor, gently closing that which we once slammed with gusto.
In the case of the Equinox, this feat can also be performed with a wave of your plate-of-meat beneath the rear bumper to activate a sometimes elusive sensor, or with a press on the key fob.
Reversing cameras are another innovation that surely save lives and a great many bumpers, but which we have quickly become dependent on. Could it be that over the millennia this may lead drivers to develop a frog-like inability to turn our necks? Ribbit!
I’m ancient enough to have been schooled in the near-forgotten art of reversing using the car’s mirrors; today I can simply select reverse and look to the Equinox’s excellent 8.0-inch colour touchscreen for guidance.
On the subject, I cycle through a regular array of test vehicles other than the Equinox and have recently been reminded of the surprisingly poor clarity in anything other than optimal light from reversing cameras in some premium German marques.
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Not so the Equinox, which is exemplary in this regard, its camera and screen combo providing crystal-clear reversing vision of my tricky, dog-leg driveway at any time of the day or night. It’s so good I can spot a southern banjo frog at 50 paces, and swerve in time to avoid the little fellah.
What’s not so optimal, however, is the Holden’s turning circle, which at 12.7m is one of the worst in its class, and a good 1.7m bigger than Mazda’s rival CX-5. Quite why it’s so much larger when the basic configuration of front struts, A-arms and anti-roll bars is similar remains an engineering mystery.
Fortunately, we can say it ain’t so in most other conditions, where the LTZ’s tactile leather-trimmed wheel and consistently weighted electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering endow it with above average steering qualities for a mid-size SUV.
Which only goes to show that while drivers and their driving skills may be headed back to the primordial swamp, even something as oft-maligned as the SUV can evolve to a higher place.