Chevrolet Captiva 3.2 V6 LTZ 2007


The Captiva makes all the right noises of an off-roader, but ultimately it’s probably destined to spend its life doing the school, church and work run, says Martin du Toit.

The bustling market for sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in South Africa is a lot like a taxi: There’s always space for one more. That’s how it looks, anyway, because now Chev has its own mud-slinger in the field.

It’s almost as if the top brass at GM said to each other: “Look, if all the other manufacturers have a model in this market segment, we probably have to make a plan too.”

Unfortunately that’s where their innovative thought ended, because those designer lines look all too familiar. Is it not just a relabelled Opel Antara? Or perhaps a modified Daewoo Windstorm? Or who knows, maybe it’s the illegitimate love-child of a Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The Captiva makes the right noises, just like most of the other models in the SUV segment: seven seats (some can even fold away), versatility (tough enough for Dad and cool enough for Mom), safety (how does a four-star Euro NCAP safety rating sound?) and all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

And of course an assortment of abbreviations that sounds like it describes the fluid dynamics of golden syrup: ASP, ABS, ARP, HDC, TCS, EBD, BAS…

Thanks to American influence, the Captiva has everything that whirs and beeps (hill-descent control, active-torque-on-demand system and computers that decide when four-wheel drive is engaged) but it still doesn’t make a bundu-basher of the Captiva. It has no low-range, the ground clearance is an unremarkable 20 cm and the standard tyres are better suited to tar.

The four models in the Captiva range – 2.0 LTZ (diesel; manual; 4×4); 2.4 LT (petrol; manual, front-wheel drive) 2.4 LTZ (petrol; manual; 4×4) and 3.2 V6 LTZ (petrol; automatic; 4×4) – come with three power plants: 2.0 turbo diesel (110 kW and 320 Nm), 2.4 petrol (100 kW and 220 Nm) and 3.2 V6 petrol (169 kW and 297 Nm). By the way, the 2-litre diesel model will only be available locally next year.

Behind the Chev badge, the Australians had a hand in the 2.4 LT engine. The Japanese contributed to the active-torque-on-demand system and AWD system. The Italians had a say in the turbo diesel and the whole lot gets put together by the South Koreans.

But if you have visions of you and your international Captiva conquering the untamed reaches of Africa, you had better look around some more. The Captiva is not a red-blooded off-road workhorse, but the Chev eggheads reckon the closest that 90 to 95% of typical SUV drivers get to the great outdoors anyway is the sidewalk of the local shopping centre.

The good news is that next time they’re revamping the parking lot at said shopping centre, you won’t have to embarrass yourself driving over those heaps of construction sand. This is due to the AWD system (power is automatically transmitted to the rear wheels once the front wheels lose traction) and the hill-descent control.

This function controls engine and braking power, and allows the vehicle to crawl downhill at 7 km/h. If you step on the brakes or accelerator you regain complete control again.

The bigger the better
At first glance all four models in the Captiva range look the same, but if you look closer, you’ll notice the different wheel sizes: 16 inches for the 2.4 LT, 17 for the 2.4 LTZ and 18 for the 3.2 LTZ flagship. The spare tyre in all the models is a Marie-biscuit space-saver of which the vertical cross section is adapted to match the particular vehicle’s standard wheel size.

All the models have three rows of seats, which give it the magical number of seven seats (the holy grail of SUVs): two separate front seats, three in the middle row and two more in the back.

Os and Ollie will sit comfortably in the middle row (and there’ll still be enough space for little Johnny or Jimbo the fox terrier between them). It would be tricky to squeeze two medium-sized scrumhalfs into the back, though.

The Koreans may build the Captiva, but the design is full of American comfort: leather seats in some models, the window pane in the tailgate opens individually for easy access to the loading space, and folding wing mirrors mean you won’t rip them off again when driving through the front gate.

If it’s important to you, there’s also fancy stuff (depending on the model) like heatable external mirrors, electric windows, air conditioning, radio/CD/MP3 player, rear parking radar and water-sensing windscreen wipers.

But probably the sharpest arrow in the salesperson’s quiver is the second and third row collapsible seats (and when I say fold away I mean away) that will give you 930 litres of packing space – ideal if you come across a hitch-hiking sumo wrestler.

A safe haven
Chev didn’t sweet-talk the guys who do the Euro NCAP safety rating – there’s a very good reason why the Captiva got its four-star rating.

Aside from driver and front passenger dual-stage crash bags and side bags, as well as the electronic stability programme (ESP) that helps you to control the vehicle under difficult conditions, the fuel tank was probably the ace up the proverbial sleeve.

On most vehicles the fuel tank is located around the rear wheels but, for increased safety, Chevrolet mounted theirs in front of the rear axle. Therefore, if someone roars down on you without bothering about the brakes, the chances are that the accident won’t end in a Hollywood pyrotechnic scene.

Drive Out says: If you’re in the market for an SUV but don’t like the Kia Sportage, Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, then the Captiva is the one for you.

Pg 2: The facts


List price: From R244 300 for the 2.4 LT to R329 900 for the 3.2 LTZ
Service plan: 3 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: 1 year/15 000 km
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km

Engine: 3.2-litre petrol
Gearbox: 5-speed automatic
Power: 169 kW @ 6 600 rpm
Torque: 297 Nm @ 3 200 rpm

0–100 km/h: 8.8 seconds
Top speed: 175 km/h (untested)
Fuel economy: 11.5 litres/100 km
Fuel tank: 65 litres

Suspension: McPherson struts in front, independent multi-link suspension at the back.
Brakes: Discs with ABS, hydraulic brake assist and electronic brake distribution.

Wheels/tyres: 18-inch alloy rims, 235/55 tyres
L./W./H.: 4.635 m, 1.85 m, 1.755 m
Seating: Two in front, three in the middle and two at the back

Weight: 1 900 kg
Max. towing weight: 2 000 kg

Approach angle: 24.4°
eparture angle:
Ground clearance: 20 cm


  • Kia Sportage (R222 995+);
  • Nissan X-Trail (R239 400+);
  • Hyundai Tucson (R214 900+);
  • Honda CR-V (R305 500);
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (R299 900);’
  • Toyota RAV4 (R316 300)

PROS? It has everything you’d expect from a vehicle that you’ll probably never encounter in a mud pool.

CONS? It’s nice and all, but for its price you can choose from a handful of other, proven SUVs.

Originally published in Drive Out #21 | Oct-Nov 2007