Being an SUV driver I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to test drive Holden’s upcoming range of SUVs at their top secret Proving Ground near the Victorian town of Lang Lang.
Personally, I love the feeling of height, space, power and that ability SUV’s give you to see more of what’s on the road ahead, especially given my 5 foot 3′ pint-sized frame. And if you look at the the growth of sales of SUVs, clearly I’m not alone. The SUV market exploded from 171,000 cars in 2006 to 440,000 cars in 2016 with Australia saying hello to a new baby every 1 minute and 41 seconds and a new SUV every 1 minute and 10 seconds. SUVs have also, for the first time ever, outsold passenger cars for the first six months of 2017.
So what is all the fuss about with the new Holden SUV range?
Well, I got to find out at the General Motor’s lead test facility for the Asia Pacific region called the Proving Ground. The facility itself is impressive as it’s located on an enormous 877-hectare block and has 44km of road systems. The “secret” facility is protected by a wire fence and the perimeter road is patrolled 24 hours a day. There is a circular, banked high-speed track, a network of ride and handling roads, rough tracks, a twist course, a “rattle and squeak” track, dust road, test hills, a skid pad as well as mud and water baths.
The morning started with me getting behind the wheel of the Acadia 3.6-litre V6 AWD, on the high-speed bowl, at a speed I won’t divulge…..I felt completely in control the entire time. The Arcadia, which will be available next year, has all you need with high tech features such as phone projection, wireless charging, hands-free power lift gate, the 360-degree camera and advanced park assist, luxurious interior. Most importantly, it’s packed with safety features such as side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, AEB and Forward Collision Alert.
Next came the 0-100km/h timed slalom driving the Equinox, another high-tech luxurious member of the Holden SUV tribe boasting an impressive 2.0L turbo 186kW/350Nm, 1.5L turbo 123kW / 250 Nm or 1.6L turbo diesel, and again the safety features are impressive – Side Blind Zone Alert. Rear Cross Traffic Alert, AEB, Forward Collision Alert. The Equinox will be available in December, 2017.
And for the finale, I experienced a true tough off-road course. The course was wet, the day was eerily foggy and I have never felt more in control and safe in a vehicle, we were driving up 30 degree steep hills and driving through waters that made me feel like I was in the outback and then having to drive down the hill with the foot off the break relying on the ABS was beyond crazy. It felt like the car was taking care of me during the entire course.
I left the day a more confident driver having experienced different extreme road conditions. In particular, I was really impressed with the handling of the cars as they ticked all the boxes. They were powerful, included plenty of safety features, had luxurious interiors and plenty of high tech gadgets.
The Trax and Trailblazer are currently available at Holden dealers nationwide and will be joined by Equinox in December 2017 and Acadia in 2018.
To stay up to date with Holden news, connect with Facebook: www.facebook.com/holdenaustralia
The Carousel would like to thank Sue Robbins for her article.