The Holden Captiva may not be the newest seven-seat large SUV on the market, but with prices starting at $30,490 plus on-road costs, it is one of the most affordable.
Despite its ever-increasing age, the model has had years of continued sales success on the Australian market. In fact, annual sales figures for the South Korean-built SUV (Captiva 5 and Captiva 7 combined) have actually increased since 2011 – from 15,123 units to 15,867 in 2015.
For 2016, the line-up again comprises front- and four-wheel-drive and petrol and diesel variants. However, as first announced at the end of 2015, the mid-sized five-seat Captiva 5 has been effectively dropped, with the large, seven-seat Captiva 7 being ‘renamed’ simply ‘Captiva’.
The Nitrate silver Captiva you see here is the revised range’s flagship model, the $41,490 (before on-road costs) all-wheel-drive, diesel-powered LTZ – currently being offered for $39,990 driveaway.
Sitting $1000 above its 190kW/288Nm 3.0-litre V6 petrol equivalent, the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Captiva LTZ gets 135kW of power at 3800rpm and 400Nm of torque at 2000rpm. It also claims 8.5 litres per 100km compared with the petrol’s 10.7L/100km, while both have the same 2000kg braked towing capacity.
When it comes to seven-seat, diesel four-wheel-drives, at a touch over $41,000, the top-spec Holden Captiva LTZ is cheaper than the Hyundai Santa Fe Active ($43,990), Kia Sorento Si ($44,490), Isuzu MU-X LS-M ($47,800), Holden Colorado 7 LT ($47,990), and Toyota Fortuner GX ($49,990) – all of which are entry-level variants of their respective models.
If you’re in the market, you could also squeeze a keen dealer on a still-for-sale Ford Territory TS – a quality model with a list price of $50,490. Another outsider worth noting (once its six-speed automatic option arrives locally in May) is the segment smaller Mahindra XUV500.
Headlining the refreshed Captiva LTZ is a new front end, featuring a new twin-grille, front fascia and LED daytime running lights, new body-coloured cladding, and new-look 19-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, upgrades include minor cabin tweaks, a restyled multi-function steering wheel, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the carry-over 7.0-inch MyLink touchscreen, which is again home to a standard rear-view camera. With satellite navigation duties now performed via connected mobile devices (eating into phone data allowances), the outgoing LTZ’s sat-nav system has been eliminated.
Topping off the LTZ is an eight-speaker stereo with Bluetooth audio streaming, heated leather-appointed front seats with eight-way electric adjustment for the driver, an electronic handbrake, hill-start assist and hill-descent control, a sunroof, side steps, front and rear skid plates, and satin silver-finished roof rails.
On the safety front, new blind-spot assist and rear cross-traffic alert technology joins ISOFIX-compatible seating (second row outboard seats), front and rear parking sensors, six airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Up front, things are basic but largely inoffensive.
Flat seats offer decent lumbar support but little lateral support. The rake- and reach-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel feels cheap in the hands – like many of the Captiva’s touch points – and is accompanied by a hard dash top, woven-look plastic trim accents, plastic brushed aluminium-look elements and low-rent indicator and wiper stalks.
A footrest and height-adjustable seat belts and head rests are good inclusions not always present, while the soft headliner material, which feels like your favourite grandmother’s well-loved couch, continues onto the driver’s and passenger’s sun visors that both contain vanity mirrors.
Clear and simple climate controls are housed in a gloss black centre stack, and chrome is splashed across the climate and stereo controls, and encircling the air vents and driver’s instruments. Disappointingly, only the driver’s power window is auto down and all switches are clicky and cheap-feeling in their operation.
The front door pockets aren’t particularly big, though, they will accommodate a 600ml drink bottle – but not much larger.
There’s a phone-sized space (depending on your chosen device) forward of the gear lever, next to two USB ports, an auxiliary input and a 12-volt outlet, with two reasonably-sized cup holders and a small spot ideal for holding the LTZ’s proximity key aft of that.
A clever storage bonus of the Captiva is a ‘hidden’ area under the transmission tunnel. Accessed by sliding back the cup holders, the ‘secret’ space is also backed up by a conventional centre console storage bin and a large glove box.
Jumping into the 60:40 split-folding second row, and while there’s not a lot of uninterrupted toe room, rear-seat occupants do get loads of legroom and plenty of headroom – along with grab handles, two netted map pockets, two jacket hooks, and a fold-down centre armrest with two cup holders.
A completely flat floor and three sets of interior lights (front, middle and rear) are big positives for family hauling, however, less good are the hard plastic front seat backs, small and largely useless second-row door pockets, and lack of rear air vents.
Accessing the 50:50 third row from either the kerb or non-kerb side is relatively easy thanks to quick-release triggers on both outboard seats. Pull back on a backrest-mounted lever and the seat folds in on itself. Getting the heavy seats back into their upright position, however, takes significantly more work, and it’s not something you’d want to try and do with one hand (or while trying to restrain any little ones).
Once in the third-row, space isn’t shabby, with a six-foot-four adult being able to be accommodated into one of the rear-most seats without drama. Sure, a full-size adult wouldn’t want to spend hours back there – with their knees up a little higher than usual – but the space available is ample for smaller kiddlies.
With the third row down, Holden claims 465 litres of boot space. However, this shrinks to a meagre 85L with the third row up.
There are four tie-down points and two luggage hooks back there as well, along with one cup holder and one 12-volt outlet. Again though, there are no air vents. Annoyingly too for a family-oriented SUV, the (non-power) tailgate is heavy and super springy to try and close.
Despite the Captiva’s keyless fob, there’s no push-button start. Instead, there’s a faux ignition key – smothered in chrome and rubber – fixed into the ignition barrel, which you still have to turn to kick things over.
And once you do, there's simply no ignoring just how loud the diesel engine, and its pronounced clatter, is – particularly so from outside the car, but ever present when behind the wheel too.
It’s not quite as agricultural as something like the ute-based MU-X or Colorado, but it’s not far off, and still well short of being considered ‘refined’.
The four-pot diesel is torquey enough around town, though, getting most tasks asked of it done below 3000rpm. It’ll also happily tick away at 1800rpm at 100km/h on highway runs.
If you do need to put the foot down a little, to overtake for example, the six-speed transmission can be a little slow to react, with response to throttle inputs not being super sharp.
With the exception of the B-pillars when head checking, vision out of the Captiva is good. Mirrors are well sized, windows are large, window sill height isn’t obstructive and there are handy C-pillar cut-outs for added vision – the latter also providing light and an additional impression of space to those in the third row.
Unfortunately, while the LTZ’s front and rear parking sensors take a lot of the stress out of parking, the standard rear-view camera is a bit of shocker. It’s even worse at night or in low-light conditions, with the one on our test car at least, actually being blurry and out of focus. It’s a shame too because, much of the Captiva’s other tech isn’t bad.
The touchscreen, for example, is responsive and works well for the majority of tasks. That said, while pairing a Bluetooth phone is quick and easy, we found the system would skip the first second or so of any Bluetooth-sourced audio track.
Sure, missing the very beginning of every track you want to listen to is mildly annoying when you have a car for a week. Have it for years though, and this would easily become a consistent point of frustration and resentment.
Another source of mixed emotions is the Captiva’s ride.
Reasonably comfortable and compliant on smooth highways and when negotiating low-speed speed humps, if erring on being a touch ‘bouncy’, as soon as choppier surfaces, potholes, manhole covers, and ruts are encountered, any positivity crumbles away. Instead, you’re presented with poor body control and a fidgety, nervous ride that at times can be downright crashy – despite its 50-profile Hankook Optimo tyres.
The steering’s quite heavy for a family-oriented SUV too, though, it is consistent and attached to a not-bad-but-not-great 11.87-metre turning circle. The Captiva’s spongey brakes also struggle to confidently pull up the car’s 1985kg (tare) mass.
Holden’s three-year/100,000km warranty with one year’s roadside assist isn’t class leading, however, the local manufacturer’s lifetime capped-price servicing program is impressive, and the brand is currently offering free servicing on the Captiva until 2020.
From a family-car perspective, it’s the issues with the Captiva’s imperfect ride, weighty steering, springy tailgate and heavy second-row seat return setup that really let the model down.
Apart from its general feeling of age, hit and miss cabin quality, and poor fuel economy – we averaged 11.5L/100km on test – the 2016 Holden Captiva simply isn’t as family-friendly as some of its more modern rivals (namely those from the likes of Hyundai and Kia). And while relatively affordable in terms of the sheer space, flexibility and equipment it offers, the diesel, all-paw LTZ still falls short of being considered a resounding bargain.
In short, although the 2016 Holden Captiva brings with it new looks, new tech and some more flair, there are more convincing, well-rounded and better polished alternatives that would be well worth your time. And possibly your cash…
Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Holden Captiva LTZ images by Tom Fraser.