2019 Holden Equinox Range Review

2019 Holden Equinox Range Review

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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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


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: 2019 Holden Equinox LT (FWD) (5YR) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Holden Equinox is an all-new mid-size SUV that Holden spent five years developing for Australian conditions. It’s well-equipped and spacious, and is available in a wide range of variants with a diesel powertrain and two different petrol engines including a powerful 2.0-litre turbo. Front- and all-wheel-drive and automatic emergency braking is included in all but the base model.

What might bug me?

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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.

What body styles are there?

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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?

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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.

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

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

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?

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The 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine available in all but the cheapest LS version is the most fuel efficient engine, consuming as little as 5.6 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined), via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the cheaper LS and LS+ versions is currently the more efficient of the petrol engines, consuming as little as 6.9 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined) with either the six-speed manual gearbox or 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.

A turbocharged diesel engine will be arriving in March 2018, with an official combined fuel consumption of 5.7-litres/100km and will be available in the LS+, LT, LTZ and LTZ-V versions.

The main reason you wouldn’t choose the diesel is because it costs $3000 more than the comparably equipped petrol models, or you want to buy the cheaper LS Equinox which only comes with the 1.5-litre petrol.

And you may look past the more efficient 1.5-litre petrol because you want a more upper-spec LT, LTZ and LTZ-V Equinox and all their extra features, which only come with the diesel or 2.0-litre petrol engine. The 1.5 is also not an option if you want all-wheel-drive.

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 and 1.6-litre diesel’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?

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Spending as little as possible on an Equinox will get you an LS manual, with 7.0-inch touchscreen, cloth seat trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and the 1.5-litre petrol engine with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive - the LS is the only Equinox with a manual option.

Spend around $2000 more and you can have the six-speed automatic gearbox. The LS auto also comes with active noise cancellation, which emits a sound wave through the audio speakers that cancels out tyre and wind noise, much like noise-cancelling headphones.

The LS+ has all the LS features, but adds a host of active safety features including automatic 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.

Other driver assistance features include side blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high-beam assist, which dips the lights if a car is approaching.

The Equinox LT gains the more powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with nine-speed automatic transmission and bigger 18-inch alloy wheels.

It comes with a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, 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.

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.

The LT also has brighter high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, one-touch 60/40 split-folding rear seats with rear cargo release.

Spending more on the LTZ brings bigger 19-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tyres for improved handling.

The 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 advanced park assist, which 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 has 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?

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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 LT, LTZ and LTZ-V models brings the 2.0-litre engine which is less fuel efficient than the 1.5 in the LS and LS+

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

How comfortable is the Holden Equinox?

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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 in all but the LS manual. 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 the LTZ’s big 19-inch wheels.

What about safety?

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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 except for the LS 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?

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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 the LS and LS+ 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.

Our reviewers are yet to drive any of the diesel versions.

How is life in the rear seats?

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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?

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

The 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 and the 1.6-litre diesel can tow up 1500kg.

Where is it the Equinox made?

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The Holden Equinox is produced in Mexico.

Are there any rivals I should consider?

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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?

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The LT is 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 LS+ also represents excellent value.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

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The Equinox arrived in Australia in December 2017 and replaced the five-seat version of the Holden Captiva.

Holden increased its three-year warranty to five years, for Equinox and all other models, on July 1, 2018.

The 1.5- and 2.0-litre petrol powertrains were joined by 1.6-litre turbo diesel in May 2018, in the LS+, LT, LTZ, LTZ-V versions.