By on July 31, 2013

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“Sir, I apologize for your wait,” said the wrinkled, harried, middle-aged man at the rental counter. His face showed the wear of having spent every bit of fifty hours a week inside a 10′ x 10′ box at the airport garage for years. “As you can see, we’re extremely busy this morning. The moment we have a car available for you, we will get you one.”

As a frequent business traveler, I admit it-I am a travel snob. I hold the most elite status possible with three different hotel chains. I assume a First Class upgrade on all flights. Most importantly, I prowl rental cars lots with the efficiency and speed of a Great White Shark. I won’t take a car with over ten thousand miles on the clock, or without a USB port. And I never, EVER take a…

…2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport/Saturn Vue/Opel Antara/Daewoo Winstorm. The rental-only queen that has been showing up as an Enterprise car on used car lots all across America (warning-if you ever do a CarFax search on a late-model used car and “fleet sale” shows up, RUN). Yet, unfortunately, on this incredibly hot day in Salt Lake City, that was the “first car available” following my twenty-minute wait. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge. It was either take it or wait even longer-and whatever showed up next might be worse. I figuratively held my nose and sat down behind the wheel.

Your not-so-esteemed author was previously the proud owner of a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT four-cylinder. I drove it about fifteen thousand miles before seeing the light and chopping it in for a Flex. I know the faults and virtues of that model pretty well. As I pulled away from the rental car garage, therefore, it occurred to me that many TTAC readers might be wondering the following:

“Bark, I have about $22k to spend on a mid-size CUV. I’ve seen 2012 Captivas and 2011 Equinoxes in that range-if I can get a rip-roaring deal on a Captiva, should I get it and save the money over the Equinox?”

And the answer is: go read our own Alex Dykes’ excellent review of this car and make your own sensible decision.

If, on the other hand, you want to know how fast the Captiva is, stick around. Off to the Bonneville Salt Flats! Regular Bark’s Bites readers (Hi Mom!) will remember our sordid tale of rescuing a stuck rental driver from the flats. If you haven’t read that, click this link, read it, and come back.

Back? Ok, good. As you’ve just read, the official speedway part of the Salt Flats was completely flooded on this day, and I imagine many days before and since.

Luckily, the three and a half mile access road out to the flats were just fine. During August, when the flats are formally open, the speed limit on the service road is rigorously enforced. When the flats are flooded and nobody’s on the road, it’s possible to get away with a little more. Cue the GoPro (warning: do not try this on your own salt flats at home. Driver is a fully-insured autocrosser with low eyes and twitchy hands)!

One hundred ten electronically-limited miles per hour, and it didn’t take abnormally long to get there. And here’s the funny thing-it actually felt pretty good at that speed. Stability was good, ride was relatively quiet (considering that I had the windows down), and, most importantly, neither the brakes nor the engine overheated as I slowed the car to a halt. Although the ambient temperature out on the salt flats was hovering in the 105-degree range, engine temperature peaked at a reasonable 195 degrees during our flat-out and quickly cooled afterwards.

It’s amazing how a triple-digit jaunt can change your opinion of most cars. Unfortunately, the Captiva Sport isn’t one of them. It’s still ugly as your back-up prom date, still gets poor gas mileage for the segment, and still has electronics and displays that probably felt out of date the first day a Saturn Vue rolled off the assembly line. The stereo system was incapable of properly reproducing Jimmy Garrison’s work on “A Love Supreme,” thereby rendering it useless to anyone who appreciates real music. It’s simply not better at anything than an Equinox.

So… should you get the ex-rental ride Captiva over the still-in-showroom-demand Equinox? I’d have to say: no. The savings represented over a similar vintage Equinox only really amount to a grand or two, and the Equinox is a modern CUV that your neighbors will nod approvingly at in your driveway. The Captiva simply isn’t.

Not that we didn’t enjoy the Captiva while we had it. How often does even the most frequent of fliers get to drive a car on the famed Salt Flats or wind one out without fear of a massive speeding ticket? But that just goes to show: even lame cars, in the right situation, can be a whole lot of fun.

barkcaptiva

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72 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: The World’s Fastest Chevrolet Captiva, Or Why You Should Buy A Used Equinox Instead...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This was also a Vauxhall something or other, which I saw rarely driving around while in South Korea in 2009.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    When I recently purchased a CUV I had considered a Captiva for all the reasons stated, slightly used, fairly well equipped, V6 AWD LTZ for pretty close to 20K. It just came up short in every category. a total meh. Plus because it is strictly a fleet car, it seemed to lack any kind of identity, a true rental appliance that evoked a response in me that few cars ever do… total indifference

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Show me a CUV which is not an appliance.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

      • 0 avatar

        Nissan Juke has my vote. It’s not particularly roomy or useful, subjectively one of the ugliest things out there (which I do like… it’s ugly in a hot way), so really it comes down to bought for style or fun. That isn’t an appliance.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree with your sentiment on a Juke not being an appliance. I also agree with the Cayenne as a flash statement of wealth. Never to go off road, but to stay within the confines of malls and valet parking lots.

          Side note: Saw a high school student yesterday driving what was obviously his own, stickered, dirty Cayenne. Made me sick.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            So, if a guy likes what a CUV is, but wants something better and goes for the Cayenne he’s going to be labeled a pseudo-rich douche. If he buys a cheaper CUV he’s an appliance driving douche. So, even if a CUV totally suits your needs and you enjoy driving it, you’re still some kind of auto-douche… I think I’ll go buy another one

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The question I want to ask why does a guy “like what a CUV is”? Although SUVs I still didn’t quite understand when they were ubiquitous, offered you true 4×4 capability, towing capacity, seemed somewhat durable, and commanded decent resale. I can’t speak for resale but you get none of those qualities from your typical CUV and I4|V6/AWD/18-20mpg isn’t much of an improvement over V8/4WD/13-15mpg.

          • 0 avatar

            Lie2Me, I won’t deny that’s a common thought that goes with those territory. But I will say for certainty that EVERYONE is a douche. Myself included.

            Do I go around trying to be a douche? No. Does anyone? Do I even know what exactly would qualify myself or anyone else a douche? Not in the slightest. What it comes down to, in reality, is a difference of view of opinion/taste/perspective… whatever you want to call it.

            Think of it this way: we can be driving a Porsche and either someone will think it’s cool and we drive really well with it, or others can think we’re loud, pretentious pricks who are a danger on the road.

            Another example: sometimes I get stuck behind someone who drives much slower than I do in town, and when I finally get passed them, they don’t get very much farther behind. To me, it’s annoying they won’t just go when the light ahead is green. If someone were doing that same thing to me, then in my mind I’d be thinking “douche.” Thus I too am– somewhere out there– a douche. And we all are for that sake.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Like I said in the article about what makes a car cool, you get to the point in life where you start buying and doing the things you like to do or buy and what other people think/want/need no longer enters into that equation and that is such a nice place to be.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Ahhh..Grasshopper.

            It is time for you to go. To the Camry store.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “It is time for you to go. To the Camry store”

            Why, did I die?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Transcended.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Oh, no… so, when it’s time to “go to the light” it will be the headlights of a Camry.. (sobs uncontrollably)

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            No! Not a Camry. My uncle reached that point of nirvana, and he bought a restored ’65 Buick Wildcat and used it as his daily driver for 18 years.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Depends what you want your CUV to do. During recent test driving the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forrester turbo were pretty interesting drives….

        • 0 avatar

          That’s true, but I’d still rather have a hot hatch or wagon first. The ’06 or so Legacy Wagon with a turbo and manual, or a Mazda6 V6 Wagon (rare as hell these days) would be more welcome in my garage. The Subie in particular as that interior is far better.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Naw, I’d just get the hot hatch stuck in the ruts by fishing spot. No fish, stuck car, and mad girlfriend. Probably no beer in the fridge. I have days like that.

          • 0 avatar

            If that suits your style, then el scotto. I still wonder how most CUV’s would really do in that same rut. Then again, I’ve been surprised before.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The previous generation of Toyota RAV4 was one of the most surprisingly delightful rental cars I have ever had. Nothing that looks like that should be so fun to drive, particularly with a Toyota badge on it. I can’t even say WHAT it was exactly, it just worked – had that certain something-something about it. I’d actually buy one. The same cannot be said for the new RAV4, total disappointment, and a bloated turd.

        It was a 4cyl typical rental spec RAV4 too, just a 4cyl automatic with cloth seats and power windows and locks. Nothing fancy.

        Captivas are just plain crap. On my ‘I’ll take almost anything else please’ list.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Jack – was this Captiva a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder?

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    I’m still trying to figure out why.Chevy didn’t bring back the Saturn Aura & name it something like Chevy decapitated and rental fleet. Ot along with it’s walking dead Zombie sister Catpiva. It would solve the Malibu rental fleet comments.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      GM has indeed offered the previous-gen Malibu for fleet sales since the 5th-gen. That one was called the “Classic”, but the 6th and 7th-gen fleet versions are called “Malibu Classic.”

      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “pre-facelift” 8th-gens become the latest iteration of Malibu Classics once the refreshed 2014 model hits showrooms.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        And I believe they’re planning to do the same with the old and new Impala.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The original Classic is what my mother owns.

          Rather oddly specced for a fleet car…CD player, power everything, alloy wheels, but the Ecotec 4, cloth upholstery, and no sunroof or spoiler.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My Grand Prix was a fleet order, leather, roof, dual zone HVAC, heated seats, steering wheel controls, mpg trip computer, the works… but *steel wheels*. Another commentator, KalpanaBlack, explained to me the rental companies sometimes get weird packages not offered retail, something to do with later resale (I presume by the rental companies).

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            NoYoGo, that’s more or less the equipment list on every Enterprise R-A-C I’ve ever had. Keep in mind that power accessories (including the driver’s seat) are increasingly standard equipment these days.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I gotta say I’m surprised to hear you use enterprise. Sooner or later you are going to run across their insurance fraud/damage recovery operation. I’m on the road nearly every weekend and I learned that lesson pretty much right away. Careful with those guys they aren’t in it for repeat customers.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      +1

      Farkin Enterprise. I once returned a Galant to Avis sans rear bumper (thank you terrible Ohio woman driver). Their response was to throw me another set of keys.

      I once returned a Jeep GC to Dollar (pre-Thrifty) completely covered in mud, inside and out. Didn’t blink an eye.

      A Budget Mustang with it’s antenna shredded, Meh… it happens.

      A crappy 35,000 mile Enterprise Impala that stank of mold (GM never did fix the W-body leaking through the body seal, apparently), “Sir this scratch wasn’t indicated on your form when you left”. On the rear bumper. Where all the scratches from luggage occur.

      God how I hate Enterprise.

    • 0 avatar
      Bark M.

      If you read a little closer, you will see that I did NOT say I use Enterprise-rather that Enterprise has been selling a bunch of these at the auction. :)

      I’ll never reveal my secrets!!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My company makes us get the Loss/Damage Waiver. No worries here. Though I rent from Hertz. For a short time when I got this job, I tried renting from Dollar. They are a bit cheaper, but when you watch 10 Hertz busses roll by you while you wait for the Dollar bus, and they go over the car with a fine tooth comb even though you bought the LDW, it gets old right quick. As with all things, you get what you pay for.

      I’ve only rented from Enterprise a couple times, no complaints but I do recall them being quite anal about going over the outside of the car.

      With 20K+ Hertz gold points in the bank and climbing, I won’t be paying for a personal rental for a very long time. Nice of them to change it so they don’t expire annually anymore – I’d have in the 100Ks if they had done that when I started renting with them. I’m about to cross the million mark in IHG hotel points (in my account, Dog knows what my lifetime is, I use them like crazy too), he who dies with the most points wins!

  • avatar
    Willyam

    ” It’s still ugly as your back-up prom date…”

    Tried desparately not to lose it to this jab in my quiet office, but it was so perfect that I failed. Well done!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “It’s still ugly as your back-up prom date.” Wow. I’ll have to borrow that.

    My adage has always been “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how you go fast”. I love putting even 4 cylinder cars through their paces. There’s lots of fun to be had.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      id rather drive a slow vehicle quickly than a quick vehicle slowly. thats how i drive my xA- foot to the floor… because i have to.

      • 0 avatar

        xA could be worse. The engine in my Echo just passed 466,000 miles yesterday afternoon. That morning I headed out on the twisty roads outside town balls out and heel-toeing. Gut the airbox and get a Spectre duct from an auto parts store like I did, and it makes a nice enough growl without being a constant drone. That, and your car has a wider track and a loaded torsion beam, but otherwise they are very much the same underneath (xA has .1″ more wheelbase).

        Clicking my name and going to the November 2012 blogs can show you what all I do with the little scamp, and other videos with it through Youtube. There’s also a Facebook (Pheobe the Echo) I made to keep Echo stuff from taking over my own account.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Crap-tiva?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    CUV top speed runs? That’s the modern equivalent of racing your mom’s station wagon in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. I whole wholeheartedly approve.

    I still waiting to see my first accident repaired Saturn Vue done with a Captiva front end and a Saturn rear.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I think the Captiva would be the car of choice for Phil, the “prince of insufficient light.”

  • avatar

    Saved both those pics to my JB folder. FYI.

  • avatar

    Wait.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    In relation to the above articles talking about ‘appliances’ here is the ultimate appliance.

    It would probably be much more fun than a Cayenne. The Captiva doesn’t come close.

    It’s a Honda.

    http://www.autoworld.co.za/NewsArticle.aspx?Article=11384

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Hilariously enough, the interior of the Capitva is far better than the Fisher Price Equinox.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Or read Dykes review of the Buick Encore:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/?ModPagespeed=noscript

    Then go find brand new Encores on Autotrader for $22,000 and find a dealership that has a curvy testing loop. I was shocked that sitting up so high that something could take high speed corners so good.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @Lie2me: That’s what the world needs! New Broughams!

  • avatar
    salguod

    I own a former fleet vehicle, a 2010 Saturn Outlook XR-L. Bought in June of 2010 with 12K miles for under $30K (likely a near $40K sticker). I was moving from a minivan to a CUV for increased towing and had settled on a Lambda platform vehicle. I wanted as new as I could afford, 2009 minimum preferably a 2010. Acadias were all in the upper $30Ks and Enclaves were even more. The Traverse was a possibility, but the comparably equipped 2010 we looked at was $5K more. Essentially the same car for 20% off if I take a chance on a rental with a certified warranty and a defunct badge on the grille? Sure.

    It’s been a good car so far, although those Lamdas don’t have the best reliability reputation. I’m crossing my fingers. Funny thing is that Traverse would be worth within about $1500 of my Saturn now, meaning I’d have lost an extra $3500 to depreciation had I bought the Chevy.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Returning from the fun side of the line in Wendover, we hit the access road to our camp and the Flats.

    We had noticed over the years the amount of noise vehicles returning to the _’Roads End’_ camp, make at night on the access road. Of course a lot of them were Rodders with Hot Rods and they had a bit of beer and speed up, initially, and then coast into camp in neutral in the … COL! Stealth mode.

    As it wasn’t too late and we were sober, we decided to give the now mostly quiet camp an aural display of a certain auditory magnitude, a vehicle at very high speeds, moving through the night towards them.

    As we turned off the highway on to the access road and rolled past the service station to a stop, I checked the gauges and flipped on the electric fans for a minute or two while I jumped out and checked the tire pressures, all good. Jumped back in, cautioned my friend to check his belts and roll up his window. Temps good_ oil pressure good_ belts tight_ windows closed_ fans off_ dash lights dimmed_ E-brake off… time to go.

    I moved the SVO over to the center line. Took a good look down the road that seemed to disappear into infinity. We checked our guts, and we were off. First gear… second… third… fourth gear… Wow! The sound of a plane in a steep, high speed dive, entered the cabin.

    The road, raised off the Flats, that seemed plenty wide enough in the day time or at legal speeds, sure was getting narrow, and it seemed like we were driving into a dark tunnel that was getting narrower and narrower, and the lights of the camp were coming up fast, too fast.

    Time to haul this Pony down, not good form to enter camp at anything but a safe speed. And we might face some rebuke from some of the touchy early risers if we neared the camp at speed and disturbed them.

    Slowed to a respectable speed, and thankful this Pony had the biggest brakes ever put on a Mustang, brakes that the 16″ wheels barely fit over, we quietly rolled into camp.

    Sitting in camp with a relaxing Corona, watching the stars and the Airforce jocks on night dog fights, we listened to the SVO’s electric oil pump cycle cooling oil through the turbo as the engine crackled and popped, cooling down from its attempt at levitating into flight.

    For a time there during the run, it seemed other worldly. Like we had entered an amorphous zone. Not quite of this world, but threatened by its rigidity.

    ‘How fast did we go’, my friend asked… ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Was so engrossed in the view through the windshield, and keeping the car on the road, I didn’t think to look’ ‘but I think we pulled max RPM in fourth, which would put us around 135+’.

    Plenty fast at night on road raised above the Flats with no visual references to signify your speed or give you a grounded reference. At that speed, it seemed like a narrow ribbon of road going through black space with no shoulder, and no earth below.

    No body complained the next morning, though, we did get a few curious looks, I could never quite interpreted.

    No Children, Puppies, or Bunny Rabbits were harmed in the this high speed hoon run.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    These are a common sight parked in our office’s “Reserved for Visitors” spots.


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