The Chevrolet Captiva claims to offer the practicality of a family car and the strength of a sports vehicle. But can this vehicle really deliver such an ambitious promise, with the company only beginning to make its mark in the UK? For now, Chevrolet is and should focus more on providing value-for-money, quality products over claiming some kind of originality in such a competitive market. But the Captiva’s presence is clear and how it fares against tough and established competition will prove either to be a failure or the ultimate success for Chevrolet.
The Captiva sports a clean yet rugged design that manages to be imposing yet not too heavy handed in appearance. It stands out against its less appealing competitors: the Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe. In 2011, the Captiva received a bolder look, a larger grille, and headlamps shaped like prisms, LED turn signals in outside rearview mirrors, and a re-shaped bonnet shape. The result was a muscular yet compact and fresh look on a four-wheel-drive, seven seater soft-roader. The Captiva’s road space comes close to what’s experienced in the Range Rover and Audi Q7, but with Chevrolet offering more room in its interior.
The interior has enough room at the rear for two six-foot occupants. Although boot space is limited, there are extra storage pockets in the deep door bins, glove box, a large centre console cubby, and the front and rear cup holders. These features make the Captiva a practical vehicle for short journeys or daily city drives.
The latest Captiva comes with a powerplant diesel engine at 181bhp and 295lb ft or 161bhp and 258lb ft. Another options would be the 2.4-litre petrol unit at 169bhp. These recent revamps have jumped the Captiva’s upgrades forward, particularly in improving power delivery and refinement. Cabin insulation has also been designed to minimize vibration in the cockpit and engine noise. This also enables the punch motor to progress through any speed quickly.
Steering is praise worthy thanks to its well-weighted nature and pinpoint accuracy. You won’t experience any kickback on the roughest of surfaces—an excellence you wouldn’t normally expect in regular driving.
The cabin itself is mostly engine room, but features a few decent design touches here and there. Next to the Freelander, however, the Captiva does little to set itself apart with its overall bland design. Front seats are flat and don’t really have distinct details. The centre console and dashboard are made of cheap plastics; portions such as the instrument cluster are just as plainly styled. Boot space is extremely limited at 85 litres when both rear seats are occupied.
As an off roader, however, the Captiva fails to deliver. Departure angles are decent and it is able to ride through rough terrain, but it’s still not a Freelander able to really get dirty and overcome the more difficult conditions. You’re better off driving the Captiva on regular roads and the occasional dirt path. But push it any further and you might get suck along the way.
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