Holden’s Captiva shows her age, but still does the job at a reasonable price.

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MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (4)MY16 Captiva gaycarboys (1)

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It’s been a long time since I was last in a Captiva, and no a lot had changed. The top model is on sale for $37,990 which is a full $1,000 cheaper than the model under it. That makes the LTZ excellent value. Here are the current SALE prices:

Current Drive-away sale prices:- LS man $25,990 auto $28,990/LT auto $38,913/ LTZ auto $37,990. The LTZ current offer also includes free diesel should you want it.

The top Captiva gets the rather dull 190kw/288Nm 3.0 V6from the base Commodore. The engine is made in Port Melbourne but does compensate for the lackluster performance.

7 seats are provided for those moments when freeloaders want a lift between watering holes. The spacious cabin is fairly well equipped, and has heated seats and vanity mirrors with lights, but it is the driver aids and audio system that make Captiva feel a little more 21st century. The rear camera adds cross traffic alert. Picture this: you’re reversing out of a Coles carpark, and your distracted by your hunny complaining you’ve forgotten the dishwasher powder (talk about 1st world problems!). A loud beep sounds and visual warning flashes in large friendly red letters to tell you and a P plater is bearing down on you at warp 10. We have all been completely blind when backing out of a tight space, and cross traffic alert gives you the eyes in the back of your head that you’ve always wanted. I see this as a safety issue and should be on every car.

Also standard on the LTZ is Blind Spot Monitoring, annoying at first but quickly becomes a valued friend, and the new My-Link system which includes Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Your humble smart phone then functions through the infotainment centre and becomes the brains of your car. You’ll be able to send a text, navigate and play music all while keeping your hands on the wheel. These, and other functions, use SIRI to perform Apple and Android functions. Of course SIRI needs network connection to function so drives down the coast highway will have black spots in function. You must be connected via Bluetooth so while you’re driving you’ll also be getting a top-up charge.

The layout of the cabin remains as it has for many many years. Remember Captiva first appeared 10 years ago so is getting a bit long in the tooth. Holden’s Sean Poppitt says watch this space for replacements in 12 -24 months.Captiva is 10 years old, and I remember well the auto industry’s reaction to SAAB having a 12-year-old 9-3 in its portfolio, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Holden does nothing wrong and is excellent value, but it just isn’t inspiring. The 3.0L V6 feels under powered just as it does in the Commodore, and isn’t terribly economical. The claimed 10L/100k is very much shy of the 17L/100k we got. Our test was shorter than usual but it is still an indicator of how far out manufacturer claims can be. The ADR that governs economy testing is not terribly, real world and because all auto makers follows the same rules, all fuel usage claims err on the side of the manufacturer. There is currently a push by some to make there figures “real world”. This should give the buyers a better idea of the costs of ownership.

The 6 speed auto is beautifully smooth but occasionally gets stuck in the wrong gear. The aging engine might see better fuel consumption with a more flexible 8 speed unit.

The drive is a decent experience. The LTZ has AWD and most of the time the average drive is unaware of the cleverness taking place under the bonnet. The ground clearance of 200mm is reasonably generous but will rarely if ever be called into use. Most SUV owners only leave the tarmac for a gravel drive. Although the is descent control akin to serious off-roading aspirations, most AWD SUVs are not capable of tackling the same terrain that pucker 4WDs can. Take a soft roader further than the end of the lane and you’ll be all sorts of bother. Being knee deep in schmutz is not fun in a new pair of loafers.

If all you need is a cheap, roomy high-set vehicle, then this is the one for you. If you need a proper 4WD with high/low range and locking diffs, a Colorado might suit you better.

The problem is Holden’s fleet has very few SUVs in it. Like it or not, the world is moving to a time when normal passenger vehicles will be vastly outnumbered by SUVs (sports utility vehicle) like Captiva, and LCVs (light commercial vehicle) like Colorado. Over the next little while Holden will move to importing all vehicles.

Holden is the Australian arm of General Motors, and the General has plants all over the world. They’re moving to having the same vehicles available worldwide. There might well be a case supporting speculation the Camaro might find its way here in light of the runaway success of the Mustang, who knows.

Holden is in the throes of renewal after shaking off the shackles of the fund-stripping GFC. The auto industry is slow to move on new model development when money is scarce. Holden tells me there are a lot of new models coming. Insignia, Captiva, and Astra are due for replacement. Commodore is being axed, and Cruze will either be dropped or imported from Asia.

We live in interesting times.

Would I buy one? It is certainly a great price, but no, this is not the car for me.

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