The skinny: If you need to haul seven bodies on a budget, few SUVs do cheap-as-chips multi-seater motoring as capably as the Holden Captiva 7.
It isn’t flash, yet, particularly with this entry-level LS version, the Captiva 7 is packed with equipment for barely more than $30,000 on-road – and there are deals galore.
The question is whether being inexpensive also makes the Captiva 7 great value?
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $30,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 123kW/230Nm 2.4 4cyl petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.5 l/100km | tested: 10.3 l/100km
The Holden Captiva is one of the oldest medium (technically classified as large) SUV models on the market, having launched back in 2006.
Although the entry-level Captiva 7 LS is priced from $30,490 plus on-road costs, Holden has since February 2015 been promoting a ‘limited’ edition LS-based Active variant that adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, leather trim, power adjustable front seats and even a sunroof.
At the time of writing (October 2015), the Captiva 7 Active is being offered for $29,990 driveaway with free servicing until 2020 – a deal difficult to beat.
- Standard equipment: cruise control, power windows and mirrors, keyless auto-entry, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air conditioning
- Infotainment: 7.0in touchscreen with USB/AUX and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming
- Cargo volume: 85 litres (7 seat), 465L (5 seat), 930L (2 seat)
The Holden Captiva 7 does its best work behind the front seats. The flat floor in the centre row means less crimping of legs should three be seated across the middle bench – though shoulder room is at a premium. The bench itself is firm and relatively flat.
The fold-and-tumble mechanism to access the third row works seamlessly.
However the Captiva 7 hasn’t been designed for right-hand-drive markets because when kids enter the car from the kerbside they need to flip over two-thirds of the bench rather than the lighter one-third portion (which is on the driver’s side and therefore the traffic side in Australia).
Once seated in the third row, comfort is decent and legroom manageable for smaller children only.
Black crosses come in the form of curtain airbags that don’t stretch to the third row, and a lack of air-vents for both the second and third rows.
Boot space is also non-existent with all three rows in place, though a simple pull-lever-then-push mechanism folds either half of the third row into the floor to create a big boot.
With the middle bench folded you can even flip down the front passenger’s seat for maximum load-through versatility.
Up front the Captiva 7 is much less impressive. Its shiny plastics, clicky switchgear and oversized steering wheel (with buttons that don’t illuminate at night) are reflective of its age and price, while the front seats are hard and the infotainment system decidedly retrograde.
Neither the separate monochromatic audio screen nor the aftermarket-looking touchscreen work seamlessly together. The Captiva 7 is crying out for the excellent MyLink infotainment system used in most other Holdens, but it is unlikely to score that upgrade before a new-generation Captiva appears next year.
ON THE ROAD
- 123kW/230Nm 2.4 litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol
- Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, independent rear suspension
- Ventilated front, and solid rear disc brakes
- Hydraulically assisted mechanical steering, turning circle: 10.8m
- Towing capacity: 750kg (unbraked), 1500kg (braked)
Although it is born in South Korea, Holden’s Australian engineers have massaged the Captiva 7 over the course of its life to improve on the original.
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine teams more fluently with the six-speed automatic, which now more-intuitively picks gears then holds onto them. The engine remains coarse when extended for maximum performance, however, while there is also too much vibration at idle.
Even in front-wheel-drive guise (the Captiva 7 also comes in all-wheel drive with diesel and V6 petrol versions), this SUV is no lightweight, and therefore no speedy truckster. In heavy traffic its trip computer settled at 15.0 litres per 100 kilometres, though decent freeway and country running lowered the total to a reasonable 10.3L/100km.
Age catches up with the Captiva 7 in the way it steers and rides, too. The steering is muddy at low speeds without the light fluidity to make parking a breeze, while it becomes vague on the freeway when changing lanes.
On the upside the Captiva 7 feels more agile than most in the large SUV class, with a car-like nimbleness to its handling.
Despite wearing chubby tyres, however, the suspension struggles to smother urban bumps and occupants are jolted and jiggled more than they should be in a family vehicle.
Over large speed humps, or on a rough country road, the Captiva 7 maintains classic Holden traits – that is, tight reining in of body movement – but newer rivals deliver a sweeter combination of comfort and control.
If you’re thinking about towing, it’s worth noting this LS four-cylinder petrol version can haul a maximum 1500kg, where the optional LS diesel can lug 1700kg behind it while the ($6000-pricier) LT six-cylinder petrol lists an even heftier 2000kg maximum.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 34.32 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Six airbags including dual-front, front-side, and front/middle curtain, ABS, ESC, rear sensors, reverse-view camera.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Cheapest four-cylinder automatic seven-seater rivals are the $31,580 Nissan X-Trail ST and $36,490 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS. It isn’t an SUV, but the $30,240 Kia Rondo Si is a fine people-mover alternative.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There are reasons the Holden Captiva 7 continues to sell well into its twilight years.
Backed by the trusty Lion badge, it remains handsomely rugged on the outside and reasonably flexible inside. It’s also cheap to service, with the first four services (annually or 15,000km) each costing $279 and the following three asking $339.
For families beyond five on a budget, the deals on a loaded, limited edition Captiva 7 Active are also probably too good to ignore.
It is, however, worth considering rivals such as the X-Trail and Outlander (and the Rondo). Each is slightly pricier but better value overall - they are newer and more refined to drive with superior cabin finish and infotainment systems.
MORE: Holden News and Reviews