2020 Holden Equinox review

By David Bonnici & WhichCar Staff

2020 Holden Equinox review

Priced From $31,990Information

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
Expand Section

Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

5 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProExcellent performance, generous rear seat space, active safety

  2. ConBland styling, hard cabin plastics, clumsy auto shifter

  3. The Pick: 2020 Holden Equinox LT 5D SUV

What stands out?

Expand Section

The Holden Equinox is a mid-size SUV that Holden spent five years developing for Australian conditions. It’s well-equipped and spacious, and is available in four variants with two different petrol engines including a powerful 2.0-litre turbo. Front- and all-wheel-drive and automatic emergency braking is standard.

The demise of Holden means you may be able to secure huge discounts on remaining models including the Equinox. For more details, read: Holden slashes prices as final fire sales begin.

What might bug me?

Expand Section

Wishing GM gave the Equinox more striking looks instead of going for the chintzy American rental car styling.

Not being able to have a little hands-on fun with the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Holden has managed to make an SUV with some driver appeal, but sadly there is no practical way to take manual control over the gearbox. There are no paddle shifters and the ‘Range Finder’ buttons atop the shifter are not intuitive to use on the fly.

Accidentally touching the brakes when you want to accelerate because the pedals are little too close together.

Driving after a puncture. The space saver is narrower than the other tyres on the car – which limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h.

And of course, how Holden's demise could have an impact on resale values. The good news is there should be no negative impact on your rights as an owner when it comes to parts, servicing, warranties and recalls.

For more details about how Holden's closure will impact Acadia ownership, see the 'Is it safe to buy a new or used Equinox with Holden shutting down?' section below.

What body styles are there?

Expand Section

Five-door SUV-style wagon only, with five seats.

The Equinox comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.

It is classified as a medium SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Holden Equinox versions have?

Expand Section

An 8.0-inch Colour touchscreen, with connectivity for mobile devices via Bluetooth. Holden’s MyLink, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Steering wheel and voice controls for your phone and the sound system.

A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation and four USB charge points (2x front, 2 x rear), two 12v charge point (1 x front, 1 x rear) and 230V universal power outlet.

Automatic gearbox, and aluminium alloy wheels (they are lighter and more stylish than steel wheels), and a space-saver spare wheel.

Autonomous emergency braking, via the Holden Eye forward facing camera system. This system also brings lane keep assist, lane departure warning, following distance indicator and forward collision alert.

Blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high-beam assist, which dips the lights if a car is approaching.

Cruise control, electric power steering, LED daytime running lights, and headlights that switch on automatically at night or in tunnels.

Active noise cancellation, and dual-zone air-conditioning (which allows the driver and front passenger to set temperatures independently) and heated front seats add to comfort levels, while front parking sensors provide additional help when parking.

Bright high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, one-touch 60/40 split-folding rear seats with rear cargo release.

Smart key entry, which allows you to unlock the car by pressing a button on any door provided that the key is nearby (for example, in a pocket or bag).

Six airbags. Anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control – which can prevent or help control a skid. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Equinox safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

The Equinox is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

Expand Section

The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the LT and Black Edition is currently the more of the petrol two engines, consuming as little as 6.9 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined) with a six- automatic transmission.

The 1.5 is a hard working engine, and surprised the 2018 Wheels Car of the Year judges who described it as ‘punch and torquey’.

The second petrol engine option is the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, which is one of the most powerful in any comparable medium SUV. It produces 188kW and 353Nm which gives it plenty of pulling power via a slick nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s a little thirsty though, drinking around 8.2 litres/100km in front-wheel-drive guise or 8.4 litres/100km in all-wheel-drive.

The main reason you'd look past the more efficient 1.5-litre petrol because you want a more upper-spec LTZ and LTZ-V Equinox and all their extra features, which only come with 2.0-litre petrol engine.

The 1.5 is also not an option if you want all-wheel-drive, which is only available with the LTZ-V.

If you’re going to use the Equinox for family holidays, you may prefer the enhanced performance of the 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is better for long drives and has a higher towing capacity of 2000kg, compared to the 1.5-litre petrol's 1500kg.

(Power outputs and all other Holden Equinox specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Expand Section

The Equinox LT has the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels and cloth seats.

The sporty looking Equinox Black Edition draws on the LT spec but adds bigger 19-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tyres for improved handling, sunroof, and roof rails and black exterior garnish.

Spending more on the LTZ brings the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine with nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Seats are leather appointed (part real and fake leather). The driver’s seat has power adjustments with lumbar support and memory settings and the front and rear seats are heated.

Entertainment is enhanced with digital (DAB+) radio, which can be heard via a Bose premium audio system. And there’s wireless phone charging for compatible handsets.

The tailgate is power operated with a handsfree function that works by swiping your foot under the bumper, and the windscreen wipers work automatically when it starts raining.

The LTZ also has a surround-view parking camera, and advanced park assist that automatically manoeuvres your car into a suitable perpendicular or parallel parking spot, and comes with an all-wheel-drive option.

The most expensive Equinox, the LTZ-V comes all-wheel-drive traction, plus additional luxuries including venitaled front seats, to keep your back cool on a hot day, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and power front passenger seat with lumbar support.

All-wheel-drive is also available.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Expand Section

The ride on the LTZ and LTZ-V is slightly less comfortable than other models because of its big, low-profile tyres. Those tyres could also cost more to replace.

Upgrading to LTZ and LTZ-V models brings the 2.0-litre engine which is less fuel efficient than the 1.5 in LT and Black Edition.

White and red are the only standard colours, with all others costing extra.

How comfortable is the Holden Equinox?

Expand Section

The Equinox is spacious and comfortable with great driving position, seat comfort, and generous equipment levels.

User friendly features include first-of-their-kind haptic seats, which vibrate bolsters in the cushion to alert the driver rather than barraging their ears with annoying chimes. Umbrella holders in the doors add a touch of Skoda thoughtfulness, and rear-seat leg-room is enormous.

Cabin noise is reduced, thanks to with active noise cancellation. This emits a sound wave through the audio speakers that cancels out tyre and wind roar, much like noise-cancelling headphones.

The equipment and comfort levels are let down by hard, thin plastics that comprise most of the Equinox’s interior. It’s not particularly nice to look at or touch. The centre console is too big and you have adopt a claw-handed position to change operate the gear shift. But if you can see past these design considerations you’ll find a lot of other things to like.

Ride comfort is excellent. Holden’s engineers spent five years working on the development of this car to make sure the suspension and steering were up to scratch for Australian conditions. The ride suffers a little over bumps on bigger 19-inch wheels.

What about safety?

Expand Section

Anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags, 2 x ISOFIX child seat points, a reversing camera, auto-on headlights, and LED daytime running lights (which help other drivers see you), are part of the safety package on all Equinoxes.

There are two airbags directly in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect the two front occupants at chest level from side crashes; and side-curtain airbags running alongside the front and middle-row seats, which protect heads from side impacts.

The curtain airbags protecting the heads of front and rear passengers do not cover those in the third row of seats, however.

All Equinox models have a range of active safety features active safety features including automatic emergency braking, via the Holden Eye forward facing camera system. This system also brings lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, which alert you if you’re venturing out of a lane and will help steer between the lines.

Holden Eye also brings following distance indicator, which tells you how far you are from the car in front and how much (or little) time you’d have to react of it came to a sudden stop. It also features forward collision alert. This warns you if it senses a pending collision with a vehicle in front via an audible alarm and flashing light projected on to the windscreen..

Other driver assistance features include side blind spot alert, which warns of any cars you may not see in your rear-view mirror, and rear cross traffic alert which senses and warns of any vehicles crossing your path when reversing out of a driveway or parking spot.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Equinox’s safety at five stars, its maximum, in December 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy the Equinox?

Expand Section

Yes, especially the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol versions. GM’s excellent 2.0-litre engine produces a hefty 188kW of power, and 353Nm of torque, which are high numbers for this class of vehicle. In fact there is no mainstream mid-size SUV that makes more power. It is a fast car, and it appeals to keen drivers. The slick nine-speed gearbox included in the package works well, especially with the adaptive all-wheel-drive system.

The 1.5-litre turbo in LT and Black Edition is also perky, and provides more than adequate performance.

Unfortunately there is no practical way to take manual control over the automatic gearboxes. There are no paddle shifters, even as an option, and the ‘Range Finder’ buttons atop the shifter, which change gear ratios but are designed to assist with towing, are not intuitive to use whilst driving.

Handling wise, the Equinox also excels. Holden spent five years working on the development of this car to make sure the suspension and electric power steering are up to scratch for Aussie conditions so it ‘drives like a Holden’.

The work they have done has given Equinox a sporty feel that makes it fun to drive.

How is life in the rear seats?

Expand Section

The Equinox has class-beating rear seat space, with a fully flat floor, and bench that accommodates three adults. Leg room is generous as is shoulder and head space.

The rear seats fold flat to accept to expand the vast cargo space, though it doesn't slide meaning the boot layout is slightly less flexible than some rivals, such as the Nissan X-Trail.

The LTZ and LTZ-V versions feature heated rear seats.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Expand Section

The boot space is cavernous, carrying up to 846 litres with the seats up and 1798 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The Black Edition, LTZ and LTZ-V versions come with roof racks, while the LT has a provision to install roof racks.

Towing capacity is 2000kg for the 2.0-litre models, while the 1.5-litre can tow up 1500kg.

Where is it the Equinox made?

Expand Section

The Holden Equinox is produced in Mexico.

Are there any rivals I should consider?

Expand Section

The Equinox replaced the inferior five-seat Captiva and is expected to be one of Holden’s biggest sellers. But it is in the highly competitive medium-SUV segment with no shortage of rivals including the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson, and a raft of others hot on their heels, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander and Ford Escape.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

Expand Section

The LTZ provides the sweet spot in terms of price, safety features and the nifty 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

If you’re happy with a little less power, the LT and Black Edition variants also represent excellent value.

Is it safe to buy a new or used Equinox with Holden shutting down?

Expand Section

If you can get a good deal on an Equinox as part of the Holden fire sale, there is good reason to feel confident that parts will be available and that servicing and the warranty will be covered.

Australian consumer law requires that a brand supports its products for at least seven years, while General Motors – the parent company of Holden who are behind the closure – have stated that it will extend warranty and service support for 10 years. The company says it will establish a national after sales network to support existing customers for at least the next 10 years. And remember, you don’t have to service your Equinox at a Holden dealership to guarantee warranty coverage.

For more details, read: What does Holden's axing mean for its customers