Launched some years ago, the original Captiva had the unenviable task of having to live up to a name that touted its looks. Unfortunately, many argued that the looks fell short of the name and some of its other features were found lacking. Much of the interior appointments were loosely fitted, the clatter of the diesel engine was unbearable, and the vehicle itself left much to be desired in terms of stability. Fast forward a few years and we find a vehicle that has taken the pains to address these shortcomings.
First off, the Captiva has received a much-needed upgrade in the aesthetics department. It’s now blessed with a larger and more masculine grille, akin to the rest of the Chevrolet line. Tank-slit headlights sport a furrowed look. Blacked-out wheel arches better compliment the large 17 inch wheels inside. The once tacky side grille has been shrunk and reshaped. Behind, the tail lights are illuminated by LEDs. Below, twin trapezoidal pipes peek from the diffuser.
Inside, the interior has been greatly improved. The instrument panel has been cleaned up, stereo and climate panels fit more flushly, and some of the car’s more bizarre storage solutions (like the space behind the stereo’s LCD) have been eliminated. Over in the second row, rear passengers get a reclining and split-folding bench, as well as a power socket. Access to the flat-folding third row is easier, thanks to the bench that folds and tumbles forward. The cargo area also has its own power socket, while seats can easily be pulled up by the handles.
Easily the most appreciated of improvements are to the drive itself. The 2.0-liter common-rail turbo diesel engine runs as smoothly as a gasoline engine, with less of the clatter it used to have. Power delivery is just as comparable, if not smoother. Kudos is also earned by the six-speed automatic. Even with a full load, only light pressure on the throttle is needed to get to overtaking speeds, with no rough kick down when downshifting. Don’t fret as that potent power will make itself felt with some tire screeching when pulling out of a U-turn slot. In the city, the Captiva will manage 10 km/L in heavy traffic and climb to 14 km/L on the highway.
The Captiva also returns a comfortable ride, whether fully laden or with just one passenger. There's a bit more heft to the feeling of the steering wheel. The vehicle as a whole, feels heavier, but also more stable. It's a bit on the taut side, but that also blesses the vehicle with minimal body roll for a car of its size and heft. In spite of its height, it’s even quite exciting on some tight corners. Best of all, the cabin’s interior is remarkably quiet.
For short travels within the city, the car truly shines. Much of the high tech driving aids that look nice on a brochure but useless in practice (like cruise control, hill descent, traction control) have been taken out. They’ve been replaced with more appreciated features like a touch screen in-car entertainment system, GPS Navigation, back up camera, and the cleverest of all — steering mounted air-con blower controls.
Safety is also up to par with systems like ABS, EBD and dual airbags, equipped as standard. The seats are also ISOFIX compatible, allowing the attachment of certified child seats. There was even an incident where we had to apply full brake pressure to avoid an errant motorcycle crossing the road. Thankfully, the ABS and EBD kicked in to bring the car to a quick-yet drama-free stop.
The only downside to the car is the annoyingly noisy Galactio system that constantly announces when it's powering up or has lost GPS signal. The climate control display also crams a little too much information into such a small screen.
Other than these minor complaints, the Captiva gains some much needed improvements to become a quiet, comfortable, yet relaxing drive. It’s also priced quite competitively, at a little over 1.4 million, for a diesel-powered, automatic, seven-seater SUV. This puts it up against Pickup-based Passenger Vehicles (PPV) like the Montero Sport, Everest, and Fortuner. And while it may be smaller in size, boasts of the same number of seats and a crossover car platform for more comfort.
It's apparent that Chevrolet has thankfully been listening to customer feedback and has been quick to apply the necessary improvements. These may not seem like much, but anyone who has driven the earlier model (pre-facelift) and this one will notice the worlds of difference it has made.