At the end of an extended test period with any car the question must inevitably be: ‘would you buy one?’
So to Holden’s Equinox, GM’s flag-bearer in the mid-size SUV class, and a vehicle designed to steal market share from a list of competitors as long as your arm and growing at a pace.
The Equinox arrived on our shores in late 2017 as an unheralded new model, bearing a name plate no-one knew or recognised, to compete in a segment where Holden’s previous offering had been the unloved Captiva.
What’s more, it launched into a pall of negativity surrounding Holden, thanks to the impending end of local manufacturing and legitimate questions about the brand’s future.
One year on, Holden is still here and looks to have survived its annus horribilis, though not without some collateral damage, and the Equinox has established a vital toe-hold in the SUV-dominated Aussie market.
The Holden’s 2.1 percent market share places it roughly mid-field in a crowded 23-car category, with plenty of work to do to better its nearest rival, the Ford Escape on 3.5 percent share.
Which means precisely what if you’re considering buying one? Simply, that popular cars tend to have better resale value on the used-car market. Industry experts Glasses Guide reckons the Equinox will be good for circa 55 percent of its purchase price after three years, which is about five percent off the pace of the similarly priced and equipped Mazda CX-5 Akera.
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On the plus side, Holden’s recent move to an unlimited five-year warranty brings it towards the top of the class in this regard, with only Kia and Mitsubishi offering longer warranties. That’s great peace of mind for any new-car owner and shows up rivals like the VW Tiguan.
In this top-spec LT-Z V trim, the Equinox also comes terrifically well appointed, with an impressive suite of safety and convenience features that makes it at least the equal, if not better, than the best-in-class.
Here we’re talking goodies like 19-inch alloys, 8.0-inch touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled leather seats, power tailgate, wireless phone charging, and Bose premium audio among others.
Equinox doesn’t skimp on the safety kit either, with six airbags, AEB, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a safety-alert vibrating driver’s seat, to name a few notable features.
Car-makers sometimes throw such extra fruit at a car to mask a second-rate powertrain, but that’s not the case here, with the 188kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder outgunning pretty much all its rivals.
The engine is mated to an impressive nine-speed automatic, which is two or three more cogs than rivals offer, delivering tangible benefits in terms of responsiveness and fuel consumption.
Holden’s local chassis development work means the Equinox ranks above-average for dynamics, its confident handling combined with an impressive drivetrain making it one of the more rewarding mid-size SUVs to steer.
One slight downside to this dynamic discipline is the fact the Equinox, as equipped here with 19-inch alloys, is firmer than some rivals. The Holden’s 12.7m turning circle is also poor, tracing a 1.7m wider arc than the Mazda CX-5.
Of course, interior space is the first and often the final frontier in any SUV race and here the Equinox offers generous front and rear seat accommodation, and a decent-sized luggage bay that’s flat and easily accessed via an electronic tailgate.
So, to the burning question: ‘would you buy one?’ For me, the answer must remain equivocal, because there are so many factors specific to individual buyers. However, I can say unequivocally that the Equinox should be on your shopping list.
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When measured against its mid-sized SUV rivals it’s right on the money in a number of key disciplines, and ahead in several others. Plus, right now Holden is offering a $500 incentive for anyone who tests its wares and then buys a rival brand. That sounds to me like there’s nothing to lose by test driving the Equinox, as we just have, although in our case the cheque is most definitely not in the mail.