Car lovers once used to talk about driving by the seat of your pants.
This must surely be the modern-day version.
Holden's new SUV, the Equinox, delivers an Pipe fitting mould entirely new take on the
old-fashioned notion of reacting to what you feel through your nether regions in
order to keep your vehicle on the straight and narrow.
No, Holden hasn't removed all of the sophisticated electronic nanny systems
from its newest all-imported model. Quite the contrary.
But in something of a first for the Aussie market, they've introduced a
feature called "haptic alarms" to warn of possible hazards while driving their
big new hope in the crowded SUV segment.
Basically, it replaces traditional alerts like flashing lights or ringing
alarms with a vibrating warning in the driver's seat when the car detects
And it works. A buzzing butt, it seems, is much harder to ignore than more
The Equinox is the latest weapon in Holden's new all-imported arsenal,
joining SUV models like the smaller Trax and bigger Trailblazer - and
effectively replacing the modestly-successful Captiva in the Holden range.
The Equinox started life as a Chevrolet bearing the same name - and is built
in Mexico for the US market (or at least is until President Trump has his
Despite its American heritage, though, it feels more like a European or Asian
machine than one from the good 'ol US of A.
Its engine, for a start, is very un-American. Instead of a big V8 there's a
choice of two turbo-charged petrol engines - one a very modest 1.5-litres in
capacity and the other a 2-litre turbo four with plenty of zip from its 188kW. A
third option - a 1.6-litre turbo diesel, will hit Holden showrooms soon.
With Holden's transition away from locally-sourced sedans like the Commodore
and Cruze, the company predicts SUVs will account for one in three Holden sales
in coming years. Which means high hopes for the Equinox along with the bigger
Acadia arriving later this year.
And mostly, the Equinox measures up.
It's handsome enough without breaking the standard SUV mould for design.
Holden boasts about its long list of high-tech features as well as
class-leading torque and power in its higher-spec models.
Even entry-level models (starting from $27,990) enjoy features such as
"Holden Eye" forward-facing camera system with autonomous emergency braking,
lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and forward collision alert; plus
blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beam and, of course,
that butt-buzzing driver's seat.
The same vibration accompanies the reverse parking sensors when they're in
use - and it gently buzzes your bottom if you're getting too close to a post or
There are some other very thoughtful little touches in the Equinox, too.
First is a button that allows you to adjust how fully the electric rear
tailgate opens - half, medium or full - which is helpful for those who park
their car in low-roofed carparks or beneath other obstacles.
Even more thoughtful is a little warning that flashes when you turn off the
vehicle and the car detects that you have something in the back. Its urging to
"check the rear seat" could save you mistakenly leaving the freshly-bought ice
cream sitting back there while you do some other chores, for instance.
Or more seriously, as has happened on a couple of tragic occasions - if a
harried parent somehow forgets about the baby sleeping in the back seat as they
rush to work or an appointment. In such circumstances, the alert could be a life
We tested the Equinox in its fully-specified form, the flagship LTZ model
featuring the bigger turbo petrol engine and impressive nine-speed automatic
With an asking price just a tick under $40-grand, it delivers plenty of
goodies for the money.
Advanced park assist will let the car park itself, and the powered tailgate
is also a hands-free affair.
Wireless phone charging, Bose premium audio and leather seats with memory
function are part of the flagship fare.
Holden's excellent MyLink infotainment system, including an eight-inch,
high-resolution touch screen, stretches down as far as the $36,990 LT model -
and it's particularly intuitive and user-friendly. Apple Car Play or Android
Auto are included.
Suspension and handling has been given a full tuning makeover by Holden,
meaning it delivers reassuring road manners and a pleasant, compliant ride. That
package features torque vectoring - essentially applying small braking inputs to
the inside wheels to keep it stable in corners.
An adaptive all-wheel-drive system is optional ($4300) on the LTZ and
standard on the LTZ-V - the most expensive Equinox at $46,990 plus onroads.
While the four-cylinder engine won't please everyone (particularly the
off-road set) the four-cylinder turbo-diesel will be available across the range.
And the Equinox boasts a two-tonne towing capacity with Trailer Sway
We were reasonably impressed with the two-litre turbo four, with plenty of
torque (353Nm) and enough power to skip to the speed limit in a snappy 7
The more powerful petrol engine is standard in all but the basic LS and LS+
variants - which get a six-speed manual or auto transmission option instead of
the very good nine-speeder.
And what of the Equinox name?
Holden goes to pains to point out its meaning - the occurrence twice each
year (March 21 and September 23) when the sun crosses the Equator - and daytime
and night time are of equal length.
Which, I suppose, can be taken two ways: A turning point - when we move from
one distinct phase to another. That's certainly what Holden would like us to
Or, it could be construed as being not quite one one thing or the other. A
bit of an in-betweener if you like.
And that probably sums up the Equinox, as well.
HOLDEN EQUINOX LTZ
HOW BIG? A mid-sized SUV that will replace the Captiva in the Holden lineup,
it delivers impressive cabin spaciousness and a flat, very useful cargo
HOW FAST? The most powerful variant, with a two-litre turbocharged engine
producing 188kW and 353Nm, delivers quite brisk performance. A smaller
four-cylinder engine will require more patience.
HOW THIRSTY? The smaller petrol engine sips an impressive 6.9L/100km,
compared to 8L/100km for the 2-litre petrol.
HOW MUCH? Prices start at $27,990 for the least powerful, basic LS model with
manual transmission. Auto adds a further $2000. At the opposite end of the range
is the well-equipped LTZ-V, including all-wheel-drive and an optional diesel
engine for $46,990 plus onroad costs.