Cracking time in new Holden Equinox
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When you’re lent an SUV over the festive time, you picture its uses will be transporting the Christmas tree home, loading up the boot with pressies, day trips and transportation to parties. What you don’t expect is for it be used as an ambulance.
SUVs are firm favourites with families due to boot space, head room and the ease of putting tots in their car seats.
But another market is the other end of the age spectrum: retirees who struggle to get into their hatchbacks.
And that’s what I realised over Christmas when Holden lent me a new Equinox SUV.
Yes, I used it to bring the Christmas tree home (with the rear seats down and a large tarpaulin over the space), it was great when I did the two-hour mad dash pressie shopping, but a phone call just before the big day put a stop to any other activities.
My Equinox was the top spec LTZ V with a 2-litre turbo petrol engine producing 188kW of power and 353Nm torque and a nine-speed auto transmission.
Priced from $56,990, my model had all-wheel-drive, 19-inch alloys, chrome-finish roof rails and a hands-free powered tailgate plus advanced park assist.
It also had a dual-panel panorama sunroof, front seat ventilation and power-adjustable passenger seat, something I urgently needed after “that” call.
My mum rang on the December 22 to say that she’d fallen over, had hurt her ribs and was in terrible pain. Obviously a trip to the A&E was needed, so the Equinox and I came to the rescue.
As Mum struggled to move, let alone bend down into her hatchback, I adjusted the Equinox’s power front-passenger seat to the lowest setting so she just needed to slide into the base and, with help, manoeuvre her legs in. Once at the A&E, we did the reverse.
Four hours later the diagnosis was fractured ribs and a trip to my home in the Equinox ambulance.
In the US, the Equinox is Chevrolet’s top-selling SUV model and in New Zealand it’s the much-needed replacement for Holden’s 2015 Korean-built Captiva 5.
It will face market leaders Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV-4 plus Hyundai Tucson, Mitsubishi Outlander, Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda CR-V.
The official marketing campaign begins this month with nine models, including six petrol-engine versions offering front-drive and all-wheel-drive across four specification grades. Petrol models are on sale first and the diesel arrives in April.
During my two-week test drive of the Equinox LTZ V, I did manage to ditch nursing duties and head out of town, including a trip to Hahei to check in on the Leadfoot Ranch as Rod and Shelly Millen prepare for the Leadfoot Festival on February 3-4 (see leadfootfestival.com for tickets).
The Equinox sat comfortably on the motorway asnd then State Highway 25 at 100km/h with enough grunt for overtaking.
I was impressed with its handling and cornering at speed on the winding Kopu-Hikuai Rd, especially when I overtook a lumbering bus then had to quickly dive back into my lane.
But I felt that the 2-litre engine needed a sport mode for extra oomph — and steering wheel mounted gear paddles would have been ideal when taking the hilly corners at speed.
As a family vehicle, the Equinox LTZ V ticked boxes due to the rear air vents and multiple USB charging spots for iPads, etc.
Holden Equinox LTZ V
Engine: 2-litre petrol (188kW/353Nm)
Pro: Great for emergencies
Con: Sport mode needed