Chevrolet Captiva review
The Chevrolet Captiva has plenty of space and kit at a reasonable price and updated version is more refined and better to drive
The previous version of the Chevrolet Captiva was a lot of car for the money, with seven-seat practicality, strong diesel engines and a capable four-wheel-drive system. A styling refresh last year also introduced a bold new look and a simplified range with just one engine to choose. There are two different body styles, the entry-level five-seat model comes with front-wheel drive, while the larger seven-seaters have four-wheel drive, more power and more equipment as standard. However it’s not the most efficient car in its class, and top-spec LTZ models are quite pricey, even if they do come highly equipped with a full leather interior and lots of creature comforts.
Our choice: Captiva LS 2.2 VDCi 5-seat manual
Given a thorough refresh last year, the Chevrolet Captiva will certainly get you noticed on the road. The gaping square grille, chunky plastic body mouldings and black roof rails give it a brash appearance that’s typical of US 4x4s, but won’t suit all tastes. LS and LT models get 17-inch alloys as standard, but the flagship LTZ comes with 19-inch wheels, aluminum skid plates front and rear and full leather upholstery inside, fog lights and tinted privacy glass. LS versions do feel a bit basic inside though, and do without key equipment like cruise control and climate control. The cabin design feels dated too, and the cheap scratchy plastics don’t inspire much confidence in the build quality.
The updated Captiva gets thicker anti-roll bars and stiffer suspension to help improve its cornering ability, but it falls short of being transformed into an entertainer. It handles reasonably well, but there’s still a fair amount of body roll and it lacks the poise of the best compact 4x4s. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is smoother than before, and comes with either 161bhp or 182bhp depending which model you go for. The 4x4 versions have better grip and come with hill descent control as standard, but there’s not a huge difference in terms of performance. The six-speed manual gearbox is very notchy, so it’s definitely worth going for the optional automatic, even though it's slow to change gears.
The previous generation Chevy Captiva was a four-star car for safety, but the revised model has done plenty to address that, and now gets the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP. It scores highly in all four areas of the test, including both child and pedestrian safety – and systems like hill start assist, hill descent control and traction control are included on all models as standard. Build quality inside is a concern – but the Captiva should prove mechanically sound, with no major problems reported on key parts like the engine and gearbox.
Five-seat models come with a decent 465-litre boot and have the same maximum capacity as the bigger versions, with a total boot volume of 1,565 litres with the rear seats folded. However the additional carrying capacity of the seven-seat model means it’s more flexible, and the two extra chairs fold neatly and easily into the boot floor. There’s just about enough space for adults in the third row, but only for short journeys. Both seats on either side of the middle row tumble forward to give access to the rearmost row – which gives the Captiva easier access than rivals like the Hyundai Santa Fe.
The Chevy Captiva is a big, heavy car and that’s reflected in its poor economy and emissions figures. Despite having less power and being lighter than the seven-seat model, the entry-level version still emits 170g/km and manages just 44mpg. Automatic versions lower that figure even further, managing just 36.6mpg combined and putting out 203g/km of CO2. Chevrolet’s comprehensive five-year triple care package, which covers warranty, road side assistance and servicing, does lower running costs, but pricier versions have terrible residual values, keeping less than a third of their value after three years.