The entry-level LS Captiva comes with essentials like air-conditioning, alloy wheels, remote locking, four powered windows and an MP3-compatible stereo, but if you want your Captiva to have full seven-seat practicality, you’ll need to upgrade to second-rung LT trim. LT also provides automatic lights and wipers and cruise and climate controls. Range-topping LTZ trim adds powered and heated leather seats and sat-nav with a rear parking camera.
With its narrow strip headlamps and huge split-level front grille, the nose of the Captiva looks quite imposing. The back end is rather more plain, but the big Chevy is quite a smart-looking thing overall, certainly smarter than the Vauxhall Antara with which it shares its mechanicals.
The Captiva’s interior features some soft-touch surfaces, but they’re not very dense and there isn’t much give in them. Most of the other panels are hard and shiny, so the cabin has a rather low-rent feel. The dashboard has rather a lot of fiddly buttons, too, but at least you get a good driving position and a decent view out.
The Captiva comes with one of two 2.2-litre diesel engines, one giving 161bhp through the front wheels and one with 181bhp delivered through all four wheels. We haven’t driven the former, but the latter doesn’t feel as punchy as its power output suggests. It’s not helped by the optional automatic gearbox, either, because it’s very hesitant, both when shifting up and kicking down. The engine makes a fair amount of racket, too, and it’s joined by lots of wind and suspension noise.
The Captiva is available in both five-seat and seven-seat formats. The five-seater has bags of space for adults and a massive boot, while the rearmost seats in the seven-seat version have enough room for adults on short journeys. They’re best kept for kids on longer jaunts, but even with a seven chairs in place there’s still a reasonable boot. The seating system comes straight out of the Orlando MPV, so while it’s not the most versatile layout we’ve ever seen, it’s pretty practical compared with most big 4×4s.
You can take confidence from the solid way in which the Captiva is assembled, even if the quality of the materials themselves isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Chevrolet’s five-year, 100,000-mile warranty should also give you peace of mind. Warranty Direct’s manufacturer rankings will also provide some reassurance, because Chevrolet is currently sitting near the top.
Ride and handling
Ride quality is the important thing with a car like this, and the Captiva’s ride is a mixture of good and bad. It absorbs big bumps reasonably well, but they cause the body to bounce and float, while the ride still manages to feel jittery over patched-up surfaces. The body lollops over in bends, too, and the steering is slow and vague, so there isn’t much fun to be had.
Even the entry-level Captiva isn’t cheap, and if you want the seven-seat version, the price jumps up by many thousands. The price of the LTZ car puts it alongside much more desirable brands. Resale values aren’t that strong either, and that’ll push whole-life costs up even further. Fuel consumption isn’t particularly impressive, either; you’ll get an average of 46mpg at best and 36mpg at worst.
The Captiva comes with front, side and curtain airbags to protect you in an accident, and a range of measures to help you not have one in the first place. These include advanced brakes and electronic stability control system, while hill-descent control helps you get down slippery slopes safely.
The Captiva combines a roomy interior and practical, MPV-like seating with sharp SUV looks. To many buyers, that’ll sound very appealing. However, many other large seven-seat 4×4s do the job better for less money, so unless you’re really sold on the Captiva’s looks, we’d go for one of those instead.