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Chevrolet Captiva 2011 road test report


A bolder look for the front end of the Chevrolet Captiva doesn’t turn it from SUV into crossover, but this capable car is all the better for its revisions. A classier cabin appeals and the engines have been improved. Only downside is the prices have crept up to make the Captiva good but not great value.

Road Test Reports Says3 star rating
A front-facing image of the Chevrolet Captiva

Image number 2 of the Chevrolet CaptivaImage number 3 of the Chevrolet Captiva

Performance Performance - 3 stars

There's a pair of 2.2-litre turbodiesels on offer under the Captiva’s bonnet. The 161-bhp diesel is only available with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, which has a curiously wide gap between first and second gears. It means you need to rev the engine hard in first to avoid a lurch or shift early into second gear and wait a leisurely amount of time before the engine’s turbocharger decides to enter the fray and deliver its otherwise punchy mid-range oomph. Once on the move, the 161bhp diesel is flexible and offers 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds. The 181bhp 2.2 turbodiesel may have more power and punch to play with, but it only comes with four-wheel drive, so the extra drivetrain losses means its not much quicker from 0-62mph at 9.3 seconds than the front-drive model. A six-speed manual gearbox is also standard for the more potent engine, while a six-speed auto ’box is another choice and takes 9.8 seconds from 0-62mph. The auto adds to the cost of buying a Captive but it also suits this cars easy-going nature.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

There are no nasties in the way the Captiva deals with any situation on the road. Lumps and bumps are dealt with in a workmanlike fashion, though without the polish and aplomb of the likes of the Ford Kuga or BMW X3. Comfort is good, but a body lean in corners is there to tell the driver if he or she is beginning to push towards the boundaries of where the Captiva is happy. Still, the front- and four-wheel drive set-ups both offer lots of cornering grip for safe and secure progress on all types of road. More steering feel would be welcome at all speeds, but the Captiva’s helm is light when parking and it’s decently nimble for an SUV when it comes to parking in tight spots. Wind and road noise at all speeds are quelled to nothing but a murmur, while the engines only make themselves heard when pressed hard when overtaking or joining a faster flow of traffic.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The perceived quality of the Captiva is an area where Chevrolet has been working hard, so the addition of an electronic handbrake helps with this ambience. With perceived quality much improved, there’s also nothing wrong with the materials Chevy uses to make the Captiva. Some look a little hard and shiny when compared to those found in a BMW or Volkswagen, but we have no doubt they will last the distance. They’re backed up by Chevy’s five-year warranty, so no concerns here either. The engines are updated versions of existing units and the rest of the Captive is much as before, so we reckon it will be a tough customer when it comes to dealing with family life.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

There are six airbags in the Captiva’s cabin – twin front, side and curtain items – but the curtain ’bags do not extend to protect those in the third row of seats. For this reason, we’re holding back one star from a maximum rating. Otherwise, the Captiva comes well kitted with ESP on every model, Isofix seat mounts, and a whole heap of security kit to deter thieves. An alarm and immobiliser form the main line of defence, while locking wheel nuts and deadlocks help out more.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

In the front cabin, the driver has plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to find the right position, and the view out is typically commanding for an SUV. The only black mark here is the over shoulder vision for the driver is limited by the thick rear pillars, which can make overtaking or lane changing on the motorway more of a chore than it should be. However, the Captiva’s dash is generally clear and easy to fathom, though a few less small buttons in the centre console would further help clarify matters when glancing quickly down while driving. In the centre seats, all three passengers are served up masses of space, while the third row of two seats is also decently generous, though these seats are still best reserved for children as they are in most of the Captiva’s rivals. Fold the third row seats flat into the floor and you’re left with a cavernous boot, but the 60/40 split and tip middle bench stows flat to leave a simply enormous boot space.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 3 stars

Chevrolet provides a five-year warranty with breakdown cover for the same period also included. This is a good deal, even if you’re unlikely to call upon it. Add in air conditioning, alloy wheels, CD stereo, Bluetooth connection, rain-sensing wipers electrics all ready to be wired up with a tow bar on all models, and the Captiva is well equipped in even its most basic LS form. Go for the LT and you also enjoy all-wheel drive, climate control, half leather upholstery, rear parking sensors and cruise control, as well as the more powerful 181bhp turbodiesel engine – this is not an option for the LS model. Go all the way with the LTZ and you get full leather upholstery, satellite navigation, reversing camera, 19-in alloy wheels, heated front seats and rear privacy glass. The only problem here is the Captiva’s price now brings it into direct competition with some SUV rivals that are notably better to drive, such as the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60. The Captiva is also hampered by emissions of 170g/km for the front-drive 161bhp model and 174g/km for the all-wheel drive version, or a hefty 203g/km for the automatic gearbox-equipped models. Fuel economy of 44.1mpg for the 161bhp engine is decent, if not class leading, while the 181bhp offers 42.8mpg with the manual gearbox and a less impressive 36.6mpg as an auto.

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