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2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V long-term review, part one

By Ged Bulmer, 28 Apr 2018 Car Reviews

2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V long-term review, part one

While Ged Bulmer's original long-term Equinox LT was taken before its time, he sizes up its replacement LTZ-V

The repo man looked nothing like I expected. In my mind these quaint folk who come to take back your car and other possessions when you default on a loan tend to be burly blokes, wearing chunky jewellery and over-sized leather jackets who speak in Cockney rhyming slang.

But this repo man was a well-dressed youngster from the Holden head office who politely asked if he could swap ‘my’ mid-spec LT Equinox for another … with more fruit.

Ordinarily that would be a no brainer. After all, who wouldn’t want to swap their mid-spec anything for an upmarket something, especially when in this case the upgrade meant panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, electric front passenger’s seat and front seat coolers, among other temptations?

READ NEXT: Ford Escape Trend FWD v Holden Equinox LS+ 

The only issue was I’d promised Ponchard and Inwood I’d endure the travails of life in the lower-spec wagon for at least a month before upgrading. We agreed it made sense to sample the breadth of Holden’s new SUV range, to better understand how the other half live … without perfumed leather and electric tailgates.

So, I had been dressing down for the week and duly getting back to my motoring roots, manually adjusting my clammy, non-ventilated driver’s seat and closing my own tailgate among other chores. Felt like quite the pioneer, in fact.

But here was this well-dressed young whipper snapper from Holden HQ politely demanding the keys to the LT and dangling the tempting carrot of the full-fruit LTZ-V
all-wheel drive. I mean, who was I to argue?

And that, dear reader, is why you’re reading a review of an Equinox LT, on pages graced by images of an LTZ-V.

As I explained to the Repo Man, I’d had the LT for such a short period that we hadn’t even got the beret wearers in the photographic department to put down their piccolo soy-lattes long enough to photograph it. Yet my pleas fell on deaf ears and I watched the LT disappear down the driveway from the comfort of the LTZ-V’s cabin. Rather nice in here, actually.

But I digress. Wheels is a mag for all and I can be a man of the people. Fortunately, I’d taken some notes if not photos of the Equinox LT before we were so rudely parted.

READ NEXT: 2018 Holden Captiva review

First up, it stinks. That’s right, the mid-spec Equinox LT smells like the shop-floor of a Guangzhou plastics factory. To be fair, the overpowering petrochemical aroma did diminish over the short time we had it, but it was still unnecessarily prominent. Interestingly, there are no such issues with the leather-trimmed LTZ-V.

Second, it’s noticeably firmer in the ride than the Honda CR-V I ran before it, but does offer decently responsive steering and handling, and I drove it only one-up, so a load may take some of the edge off the otherwise impressive locally tuned suspension.

Third, its 188kW/353Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is exceptionally punchy and, teamed with an excellent nine-speed automatic, makes for an impressive drivetrain package, except…

Except, for the fact it’s channelling all that grunt to the 18-inch front hoops, which struggle at times for traction and offer regular wrist-borne reminders of where the torque is going. As Ponch said at Wheels COTY, you really need to opt for the AWD models if you choose the punchier of the Equinox’s two engines.

Fourth, at $36,990 plus $500 for premium paint, it makes a compelling value proposition; especially when you consider that it packs an impressive suite of safety features including AEB and forward-collision alert with head-up warning, lane-departure warning, six airbags and a raft of other safety items.

Fifth, you want a fifth? Sheesh, I only had the thing for five minutes. Tell you what, come back next month and I’ll tell you about my new wheels: the bright, shiny Equinox LTZ-V pictured here with electric everything and AWD that also happens to smell nice, okay?

Read the full Holden Equinox long-term review