Chevrolet's seven-seat soft-roader is decent enough, but its high price pitches it against rivals it can’t beat
What is it?
Chevrolet’s big soft-roader, complete with new, upgraded engine and a fresh face for 2011. Here we’re testing the Captiva in top-spec LTZ spec, complete with 181bhp 2.2-litre engine, six-speed auto, four-wheel drive and seven seats. UK buyers also get the option of a six-speed manual gearbox mated to this layout, or a 161bhp manual model that comes in front-wheel drive and five-seat spec only.
What’s it like?
In many ways this new Chevrolet Captiva is a big step forward over the pre-facelift model. The most significant improvements come in terms of refinement and power delivery. Upgrades to the cabin insulation have made the Captiva a more relaxing place to cover miles, with much less engine noise and vibration creeping into the cockpit, and the punchy motor also makes progress very easy.
Mated to the six-speed torque converter the engine offers good response across the range, with the auto box making slightly lazy but well-judged shifts. For all that it is not the most rewarding drivetrain in the class, it’s effective at what it needs to do, and is really quite likeable because it encourages such an easy-going, laid-back driving style.
Less laid-back is the ride quality on UK roads. The Captiva’s chassis set-up has been modified for the 2011 facelift, with the intention of making it more worthy of the ‘sport’ element of SUV, or at the very least a more positive driver’s car. And whilst the steering is marginally better tuned with that in mind, this is still a distinctly stodgy car to drive, now with correspondingly lumpy ride. This could in part be down to the 19-inch alloys that all top-spec LTZ models get as standard, since our test car did settle down on smoother main artery roads, but there’s too much jogging and jarring over typical b-roads. It’s not unforgivable, and is unlikely to be a deal breaker for those who are taken with the Captiva’s looks and practicality, but it could certainly be better.
Should I buy one?
If there is going to be a deal breaker in the Captiva’s portfolio, it’s price. This top spec model comes in at just shy of £32k, and for that sort of money you can get all kinds of family SUVs and estates – if you’re willing to sacrifice the third row of seats then that spreads to include some very good premium options, too.
If you must have the extra seating, and you can work a hefty saving on the list price then you’ll be getting a well-equipped and capable family soft roader. Even so, look carefully at the other options because there are better executions of the big, budget, seven-seat family SUV out there.
Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 VCDi Auto LTZ
Price: £31,845; Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: 10.1sec; Economy: 36.6mpg; Co2: 203g/km; Kerb weight: 1903kg; Engine type: 2231cc, 4cyl, turbodiesel; Power: 181bhp at 3800rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 6spd auto