Price: $27,990 to $33,990
At the budget end of Holden’s SUV line-up is the Holden Captiva 5, with a four-cylinder petrol engine, six-speed manual transmission and two-wheel drive.
At $27,990, it’s Holden’s super-cheap entry into the medium-size SUV market, the five-seater sibling to the seven-seater Captiva 7 positioned to compete with the compact SUV breed. An optional six-speed automatic gearbox will add another $2000, which still puts it at just under $30K before on-road costs.
The competition includes the Mazda CX-5 (from $27,880), Nissan X- Trail ($28,490), Mitsubishi Outlander ($29,340), Jeep Cherokee ($28,000 – with auto transmission), Kia Sportage ($26,990), Subaru Forester ($30,990) and Toyota RAV4 ($28,990), all of which offer affordable competitive pricing and specification levels.
The Holden Captiva 5 petrol variant gets a 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine, generating 123kW of power and 230Nm of torque.
Neither number is worth crowing about, especially when peak torque isn’t reached until 4600rpm, but it’s still more than what both the 400cc-smaller CX-5 (114kW/200NM) and same-capacity Sportage (122kW/197Nm) offer. The downside is that the Captiva (1681kg) is around 240kg heavier than the Mazda.
Luckily the six-speed manual is well matched to the engine, so performance is surprisingly enthusiastic. The shifts, though, can be stubborn, especially when engaging first gear, so be prepared to manhandle the shifter at times. Thankfully, though, the pressure is off when it comes to hill starts and those potential rollbacks, as hill start assist is a standard feature across the entire Captiva 5 range.
Despite a decent torque spread, and throttle response that’s better than expected, even in the higher gears, you still need to use plenty of engine revs to get the most out of this Captiva 5 petrol variant.
The 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine is a smooth-revving unit with a decent torque spread and there’s something of a snarl at around 4000rpm rather than the demonic scream that plagues so many other four-cylinder SUVs in this class, particularly the automatics.
Combined fuel-consumption for Captiva 5 is rated at a claimed 8.8L/100km, but after a week of driving, sometimes with two 10-year-olds on board, we recorded a dismal average of 11.8L/100km.
The Captiva 5 employs a multi-link rear suspension and MacPherson strut front, and like its seven-seat Captiva sibling, offers decent dynamics that wholly avoids the sogginess of rivals like the Nissan X-Trail.
There’s very little pitch and yaw through when tackling S-bends, and the Captiva can be driven with a fair degree of intent despite its hefty weight. Sadly, however, it’s a case of stiffening up the spring rates to (thinly) disguise the lack of chassis resolve.
Ride quality is decidedly on the firm side, way too firm considering its family-car focus. The ride also turns choppy and bouncy at speed, but more comfortable than the Captiva 7 in this regard.
The variable-ratio speed sensitive steering is vague on-centre, though it does provide a comfortable level of weight; not too heavy, nor featherweight-light.
It’s a high-seat driving position in the Captiva and while there’s little in the way of lateral bolstering in the front seats, the cloth fabric at least prevents unwanted sliding-about during cornering.
Inside, the Captiva 5 looks and feels its price point. The cliff-faced-style centre stack looks dated and in need of a makeover.
On the plus side the plastics are of reasonable quality and there’s a decent spread of soft touch and metal-look accents throughout the cabin. Although built in Korea, the Captiva 5 is styled for Europe, where it’s badged as an Opel. The switchgear is Opel-derived, shared with the old, previous-generation AH Astra.
There’s plenty of space, too. The Holden Captiva 5 gets the same clever flat-fold rear seat system as it’s larger sibling, which makes loading longer cargo a breeze.
Boot room though, is compromised by the fact that the floor sits almost flush against the tailgate, with a high loading lip and little in the way of depth. However, there’s still 430-litres behind the rear seats and 865-litres when the rear backrest is folded.
While it’s hard to believe that there’s no Bluetooth or music streaming (no USB port either) in the Captiva 5, it otherwise isn’t gadget-starved.
There are power windows with auto up/down on front and rear and an electrically operated park brake that allows for one of the longest console bins in this class of SUV.
Other highlights in the Captiva 5 include 17-inch alloy wheels, semi-automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a better-than-average audio system. The small mono screen displaying basic driver information such as fuel-consumption and range is ordinary, however; it’s well past its use-by date.
Safety equipment is competitive, with the Holden Captiva 5 scoring a full five stars, with six airbags and a complete range of active safety systems including electronic stability control with traction control, active rollover protection, anti-locking braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist and decent control system.
For folks requiring low-level off-road capability or greater towing capacity (from 1500-1700kg braked) there’s the 2.2-litre diesel Captiva 5 with all-wheel drive and 400Nm of torque. But that choice will bump up the price to $33,990.
Particularly considering its high-quality competition, the Holden Captiva 5 is left looking exposed. It is six years old and feels its age in many ways. But it does offer more space for less and decent array of features although, the lack of Bluetooth, or even a USB port is inexcusable for an SUV in this day and age.