By on March 17, 2014

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When we think of the World Wide Web nowadays, we tend to think of it as an eternal now where only the newest and freshest information has any importance whatsoever. That wasn’t why it was created, however; it was meant to be a protocol through which document and information storage could be logically organized and quickly retrieved over the long term. This is relevant because here at TTAC we often see pretty good traffic numbers for articles we published years ago, new-car reviews in particular. Why would anybody want to read our old reviews? Most often, it’s because they are considering the purchase of that car today — when it’s a used car.

That’s why we’re running a review of a fleet-only vehicle that private individuals can’t even purchase from a Chevy dealer right now; in years to come, these will be on sale everywhere. Consider this, therefore, a letter, written and sealed for future readers. As a matter of fact, consider it a warning, written and sealed for future readers, and based on an 898-mile road trip in a variety of conditions.

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When I first encountered the Captiva, it was a loaded, leather-lined LTZ form. The verdict? Not bad, but also not worth considering. At least it was decently quick, courtesy of the 264-horsepower, direct-injected three-liter V-6. For 2013 and 2014, however, the Captiva is only available with the 180-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec.

Four-cylinder CUVs are thick on the ground nowadays, so what’s the big deal? Well, the Captiva scales nearly 3,800 pounds compared to the 3,300 pounds of an equivalent CR-V. This puts the power-to-weight ratio about level with a five-liter Panther from twenty-five years ago. Not good. And sure enough, when it came time to drive the Captiva from sunny Powell, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois, the egg-shaped trucklet revealed its Achilles’ heel almost immediately. Or heels, I should say.

The first problem: power, or lack thereof. On flat grades with a headwind, the Captiva couldn’t maintain 80mph in sixth gear and had to run in fifth. Throw in a small grade (and I mean small, this is the Ohio-Indiana area we’re discussing) and it would often reach down another cog to fourth, churning the Ecotec at five grand or more for minutes at a time. The numbers don’t tell the full story; in this application, the 2.4 is completely gutless at all times and needs to be kept in the upper half of the tach just to keep pace with Midwest traffic. Does it even need to be said that the resulting engine noise and vibration is offensively coarse?

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Naturally, spinning a big-inch four-cylinder hard all the time leads to dismal fuel economy, which is the Captiva’s other big problem. The on-board computer reported 22.6 miles per gallon during the freeway segments on Interstates 70 and 65, but if anything, it was optimistic; the Captiva swallowed approximately thirteen gallons during a 200-mile jaunt between West Lafayette and the Dayton area. It’s a rare automobile that makes me nostalgic for my dearly-departed Town Car’s twenty-two on the trot, but the Captiva manages the trick while simultaneously displaying none of the Lincoln’s ability to run fast and quietly.

Perhaps it’s the fault of the absurdly stupid and ill-behaved six-speed automatic that would often change its mind about the proper gear twice or even three times during acceleration. Even relatively simple situations like a full-throttle launch from a stop would often produce an early upshift followed by a change back to the original gear. This particular Captiva had thirteen thousand miles on it so it might be a case of bad “learning” on the part of the transmission’s ECU, but if this had been a new car purchased from the dealer I’d have returned it for service just based on the insanity of the gearbox.

The Captiva does, however, do one thing well: it handles. Nearly everybody else in the segment could learn quite a bit from the chassis, which combines solid grip and dynamic excellence with surprisingly decent ride quality. It doesn’t lean, it doesn’t porpoise, and it easily handles fast lane-changes without drama or discomposure. It’s close to the class of the CUV field in this regard and if Lemons races of the future have a cute-ute category this would be the one you’d want, at least for the autocross component, if there is one.

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This “LT” model starts at $25,695 according to the GM Fleet website. What do you get for what amounts to a relatively lofty price in CUV-land? Not much. The cloth seats are flat and unsupportive, although the driver’s seat is power-operated. There’s a leather-wrapped steering wheel but the rest of the controls feel depressingly cheap and delicate. GM’s thumbwheels to control radio volume and cruise control feel worn-out when they are new and after a year of rental operation they had the wobbly inconsistency of the volume and tuning knobs from the kind of no-brand Sony Walkman ripoffs you used to get as “free gifts” when you subscribed to National Geographic.

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There’s plenty of space for rear-seat passengers and luggage, although the sloping roofline made the rear area less than perfectly useful. My purpose in renting a Captiva was to take a few guitars and amplifiers, plus a wheelchair and a set or crutches, to a gig in Irving Park; because of the rear glass, I couldn’t store the wheelchair upright and therefore every meal stop became a Jenga game to get the thing out without either breaking something or scratching the hard plastic of the rear doors and interior panels.

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Although the Captiva is effectively a decade-old Saturn, the interior was revised to quasi-modern standards when it became a fleet special. The problem is that the competition has moved on again since that revision. We’ve long since stopped expecting that GM can match, say, Ford for interior whiz-bang stuff and features — but when Toyota offers more inches of LCD screen than your product does, you have a problem. About all you can say about the Captiva’s telematics is that the iPod integration is surprisingly good and it allows the driver to skip any nasty three-line LCD interface in favor of choosing the music on the iPod directly. Unfortunately, the pre-amp is so weak, and the Captiva’s engine is so noisy, that it’s difficult to even hear music well on the freeway.

The CD player is louder, but I only had one CD for the entire trip: Joel Frederiksen’s Requiem For A Pink Moon. This album was suggested to me by a friend who knows about my Nick Drake obsession. (Readers of my own blog probably know about it as well; Nick Drake is the second-most mentioned person on said website, after Paul Reed Smith.) While the idea of playing Nick Drake covers with Elizabethan period instruments sounds like a dicey proposition, it works absurdly well in practice. Mr. Frederiksen and his group look more Euro than a twin-headlamp E21 BMW 316 parked next to a Roman fortification. I’d sell my soul to the Devil to have his voice, which is three octaves lower than mine and has the power of a cathedral pipe organ. If you only have one CD for an eight-hundred-mile trip, make it Requiem For A Pink Moon! (Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this disc by the publisher. Further disclaimer: they aren’t getting it back.)

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It’s possible to conceive that the Captiva LTZ AWD V6 might be purchased on the used market by the same kind of person who would buy an album of ancient-sounding Nick Drake covers. After all, both are European takes on something the British love to a fault. (Yes, the English adore the CUV.) This four-cylinder cloth-seater, on the other hand, won’t strike the desirability chord in anyone’s heart. The Captiva’s sterling qualities, which would be restricted to over-the-road handling and general build quality, don’t make up for its gutless engine, moronic transmission, dismal interior, excessive amount of road noise, and lamentable fuel economy. Attention future readers: this is a car to avoid at all costs.

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131 Comments on “Review: 2014 Chevrolet Captiva LT 2.4...”


  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    “We’ll take two…….hundred”

    /NAPA Parts Delivery

    • 0 avatar
      WJU

      I find many of the comments on this car, and to a lesser degree the review, just snobbish dislike for GM cars in general. I’m helping a friend with her test driving/buying of a 2013 – 14 small SUV. We have road tested the Captiva LTZ, Toyota RAV4 XLE and the top of the line Honda CRV. What we have found with test driving these cars on the high way, 2 lane country roads, suburban roads and poorly paved roads is the Captiva is MUCH quieter, MUCH smoother ride, comparable handling and overall much more comfortable. The engine performance (acceleration, etc) is equal in the Captiva and RAV4 but the Honda is better than both.

      The Toyota and Honda have a 3/36 and 5/100 warranty. The Captiva has a 5 year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty (certified by GM – $400) and a 5/100,00 power train warranty. The Toyota and Honda will have better resale value in 5 years, which is how long she plans to keep it. But the Honda and Toyota both cost $3000 – $5000 more in the same year/mileage range. And that does not take into account the increased financing cost for buying the more expensive Honda or Toyota. So the resale argument is at best a “wash” but based on the increased upfront cost, more likely a loss-leader.

      The amenities that the Captiva has that the Toyota and Honda do not have: all leather seats, park-assist (a big plus for this buyer), power seats (another big plus as this buyer is only 5′ and needs to move the seat up), full featured and more intuitive touch-screen programming, much better 10 speaker/sub-woofer sound system, heated seats, remote start, built-in garage door opener and more overall cargo space.

      I am not saying that the Captiva is a better car than the RAV4 or the CRV. But at the lower price point, combined with the added features, better performance in some categories and 5 yr/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty on GM certified cars, comments that it should be avoided at all costs, are just plain ignorant.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Even relatively simple situations like a full-throttle launch from a stop would often produce an early upshift followed by a change back to the original gear. This particular Captiva had thirteen thousand miles on it so it might be a case of bad ‘learning’…”

    This statement so reminds me of a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass ‘S’ my father once purchased used. With the then-peppy “Rocket 350″ under the hood, he couldn’t get it to go past 60mph no matter what he did. Good performance up to that speed, but it refused to go any faster despite taking it back for a full tune-up. Since much of his driving required fairly long stretches of freeway in the vicinity of the Cumberland Plateau, he started booting the thing–putting his foot to the floor–every time he hit a downhill stretch, forcing the engine to keep up with the car as gravity accelerated it. The point is, he finally broke it past whatever was inhibiting it and that ended up being a solidly reliable car.

    It’s quite possible that the ECU could be re-taught over time, or even completely reset at the dealer’s for a fresh start. So that issue alone might be resolved at little to no cost, which would massively improve its driving characteristics.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Other than that; how was the show Mrs. Lincoln?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    It’s complete crap!

  • avatar

    But in reality, most people who end up purchasing one of these are coming out of a decade-old or older Blazer, Pathfinder, Isuzu, Explorer, Durango, etc., making it a solid choice.

    And the fact that you can get into one with a 520 beacon as long as you have enough down + your trade (especially at CARMAX, who buys these like no one’s business…seriously…no one else has that business model) means that’s probably the only reasonable choice as well.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “But in reality, most people who end up purchasing one of these are coming out of a decade-old or older Blazer, Pathfinder, Isuzu, Explorer, Durango, etc., making it a solid choice.”

      No, the fact that they have low expectations doesn’t make this car a solid choice.

      “And the fact that you can get into one with a 520 beacon as long as you have enough down + your trade … means that’s probably the only reasonable choice as well.”

      However, you do explain a good reason for a bad choice.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      It seems like people who fit that subprime borrower demographic have a hard time distinguishing an intelligent purchase versus something that’s just new.

      Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it’s nice! Take off those post-bankruptcy blinders for a sec.

      Why does doing research and poor credit go hand-in-hand? One of life’s greatest mysteries.

      Perhaps they are only limited to vehicles with extremely poor depreciation. Most of the time, I have noticed that the vehicles that individuals with LOUSY credit purchase cars with absolutely wretched resale value. (Galant, anyone?)

      Credit challenged people tend to flock to Avengers. Mitsus. Low-budget Chevy’s. The like. It’s almost as if they’ve talked themselves into believing these cars are competitive vehicles and intelligent choices.

      Perhaps they have tunnel vision, or they’ve been burned so badly in the past by trying to get a loan for a much higher-rated/respected vehicle that they just accept whatever sub-par vehicles they can get approved for.

      Hmmm… Kia….

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Everybody rides!

        A coworker picked up default Galant about 10 years ago. Remember their disastrous no down payment, no payments for 3 months? She bought one of those defaults…7 months old, 30% off.

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        No. It’s because the BHPH places that cater to these customers pick up LS Impalas by the truckload at auction for $6k and sell them to bad-credit folks for $16k (and also 28% interest for 84 months). It isn’t as if these people can’t tell that a Camry/Accord/whatever is a better car, it’s that the BHPH places who make a killing off of these people don’t stock them, because even a credit-challenged customer can tell you that a 5-year-old Toyota with 100k+ miles, sold for more than the price of a new one, is a bad deal, and also, they can’t afford it. Naturally, when that Impala breaks, they’ll stop making the payments, and the cycle starts over.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Must I point out that these are only being offered as used cars?

        If I have 2-3 kids and their stuff, and I have to get them and myself somewhere, and my car doesn’t run anymore, what should I do? In this country, unless you’re in a handful of Rust Belt cities, you have to have a car.

        I happen to be lucky enough not to be in this boat. Clearly you do, too. Don’t get too proud of yourself. Lash your entire self-image to that mast, and if there’s a replay of 1929 you’ll be jumping out the window just like those people did.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Evidently this thing is still sold in world markets and at one time or at present is assembled in the following locations:

    Kazakhstan: Ust-Kamenogorsk
    Russia: Kaliningrad[1]
    South Korea: Bupyeong-gu, Incheon (GM Korea)
    Thailand: Rayong
    Uzbekistan: Asaka (GM Uzbekistan)[2]
    Vietnam: Hanoi (GM Vietnam)
    Shanghai, China (Shanghai GM)

    The fact it is a world seller is probably the only reason its still in NA production.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Captiva

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Just rented one for almost two weeks in las Vegas. Would not drive strait, avg 21.1 mpg hwy, extremly slow, and just made very poorly. I threw one of the suitcase’s in the back. The suitcase hit the hard plastic between the carpet and bumper and the plastic exploded. I barely even hit the plastic shelf and it just imploded. I think the suspension was also bottoming out. The only quality part that I found was the leather seats. They still looked good for a rental. Oh, when stopped and still running. It smelled like is was burning.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The thing that sticks out to me about my short experience with a Captiva was driving to LAX to catch a flight home after an all day Indian wedding in Bakersfield was the fact that the power port was broken. I couldn’t charge my phone and I was relying on my phone’s navigation to get to the rental dropoff. Not the best conditions to make a judgment on a vehicle, but the lack of a way to charge my phone certainly didn’t help conditions and I was pretty angry about the unnecessary stress by the time I booted this turd at the rental lot.

  • avatar
    brianyates

    Jack unlike the Captiva I do like Nick Drake’s music. I have a rare 3 record (vinyl)boxed set titled”Fruit Tree,the complete works” That I bought 25 years ago,and a rare cd recorded in Tamworth in Arden with his sister,Gabrielle,entitled”Nick Drake,Family Tree.
    But I’m sure that you also have copies.
    As for G.M., new or old, they just don’t seem to get it.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Nick’s mom Molly was pretty hot stuff too, and Squirrel Thing recently pressed some of her recordings into a nice hip little package. But you probably know all of this already.

    The car seems to meet all of the assumptions I’ve based off of the name.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I have to wonder how much Hertz actually shells out for one of these things. To some extent, Hertz (& the rest) business model relies on things other than “Wow! What a great car this is!” Location, location, location, speed and frequency of the busses to the rental lot, perk tie-ins with the airlines, price, price & price.

    But they also can’t just give you crap to drive without some form of “I’m not happy with you guys” penalty. So, I wonder what this is worth to them to have the cheeaaaapest CUV on the market on their lots for people that need a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Also, as it happens, I have seen these (not necessarily the 4-cyl) in private hands, so Jack’s warning may be well appreciated by some.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      These are actually considered an upgrade from a full-size car by Hertz (and thus they try to give me them all the time). They are not particularly cheap to rent. >$100/day most locations.

      Reality is that to most folks who daily drive a 10yo beige-mobile, a nearly new rented Craptiva with all the toys seems like a pretty nice car. Personally, it is on my Nancy Reagan “just say no” rental car list, for all the reasons Jack dinged it for. I assume that used from CarMax they are dirt cheap, and they should be.

      Speaking of rental cars, last weekend in Atlanta I got a car with a personal record *67,000* miles on it. A 2011 Ford Taurus in ATL. And it was perfectly fine other than being a barge of a Taurus. Never would have guessed it had 67K on it, or that it was a rental.

      And a great recommendation for that CD, Amazon is now $8.99 richer than a few minutes ago. Agreed – that guy has an AMAZING voice.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Actually, I can’t think of anything MORE appropriate than the idea of playing Nick Drake covers with Elizabethan period instruments!

  • avatar

    With a name like captiva, what does anyone expect of the thing?

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Product like this is what makes me hate GM. They should be smacked for the crimes they commit against the American people. For shame.

    This is the Aveo of CUV’s. For $26K!

    I bet the plastic dashboard has a hard, yet cheap feeling thud when you hit your hand against it, and your lower back hurts like hell after a two hour drive.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You may not be surprised to learn then that it was developed by Daewoo.

      “The Chevrolet Captiva is a compact SUV developed by GM Daewoo (now GM Korea), the South Korean subsidiary of General Motors (GM), and sold under the Chevrolet brand. The Captiva utilises the GM Theta platform and derives from the Chevrolet S3X concept car revealed in 2004. The Theta platform also underpins the Opel Antara, the Captiva’s mechanical derivative also built by Daewoo.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Captiva

      • 0 avatar
        minivanman

        That’s a different, 7-seater Captiva. The Wikipedia entry even says “For the “Chevrolet Captiva Sport” sold in the Americas, see Opel Antara.”

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It’s not as if GM doesn’t have a less awful CUV at the same price. Yet they willingly put their name on this one anyway.

      Of course people who know GM’s past sins hate them with a passion. Product like this is how people young or otherwise ignorant of that history will learn to hate them too.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @rarsleeper

      You would win that bet on both counts.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    The hilarious part is that these have better interior plastics than the Equinox and Terrain do.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      I hope not. Because the craptiva I rented, the dash looked like it had Revall model car plastics.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t know about that, but I will absolutely acknowledge—even as a GM fan—that the interior materials in the Equinox and Terrain are worst-in-class. Even the Outlander Sport does better. It’s especially bad on the ones with black interiors (which is pretty much all of them). After a couple of years and X number of miles, the leather and the plastic becomes really worn and greasy-looking. Ford also has this problem, but it’s primarily with leather and not so much with plastic.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I seem to remember a lot of gushing in the automotive press about the excellent materials quality of the Equinox/Terrain when they debuted. Wouldn’t be the first time auto journalists presented subjective opinion as inarguable fact, though.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      “Quote” The hilarious part is that these have better interior plastics than the Equinox and Terrain do.

      Or the current Rav 4 or Camry

  • avatar
    segfault

    The four cylinder Terrain and Equinox suffer from the same problem as the Captiva (high curb weight, not nearly enough power, poor fuel economy). The rental Terrain I had stickered for around $30k and didn’t even have a sunroof or leather seats. The infotainment system in the Terrain was decent, and it was comfortable and quiet. It also had a coolant leak after only 10,000 miles. I would buy a CR-V over it any day.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Did it have that basketball jersey mesh cloth? I hate that stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        Yes it did. Not the softest cloth seat material I’ve ever seen, and probably difficult to keep clean. It can all be yours for the low, low price of $30 grand! Overall, the interior was rather crummy.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Just drove my ’13 LS I4 Equinox the length of the Jersey Turnpike, averaging 60 mph and 34 mpg. Plain black interior is nicer than a Rav4 Base. Power? 70+ mph sneaks up on you pretty fast. Not big- block Chevy fast, but good enough. It’s all about expectations. Utility, too. Right on about the Craptiva, though.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        My highest MPG in the AWD I4 Terrain was 24 MPG. Average was closer to 22 MPG. I didn’t drive it aggressively, but it often needed a swift kick to the accelerator pedal to produce any noticeable acceleration. If you needed to pass on a two lane road, it took a very long straight stretch. It was just plain underpowered, to the point that a more powerful engine would have probably generated more MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        Everything you wrote about your Equinox is true of my Uncle’s new Terrain, except the power is nowheres near adequate—the Jersey Turnpike is a poor example because it tends to be quite flat. Try driving up the Palisades and see if you can maintain speed up a grade without downshifting to 5th and 4th. You can’t—I even tried locking out 6th gear, and it still needed to downshift to 4th to maintain 65mph at times—no A/C, and only 2 people in the car.

        Its a shame, because other than the pathetic engine/gearing, this Terrain/Equinox drives very, very nicely IMHO. I couldnt really ask for more for a small SUV. But, it really needs the GM Ecotec turbo 4 from the Regal (detuned, of course to not cannibalize V-6 sales).

        • 0 avatar
          ixim

          Correct – the Tpke is pretty flat. I often drive up the PIP; those long upgrades need a running jump to climb ; typically the torque converter unlocks first and then my ‘Nox drops down maybe to 5th. 60mph and high 20′s mpg, measured at fillup. The “Eco” setting holds higher gears a lot – to the extent that light throttle actually makes the I4 “lug” . These current Thetas – soon to be replaced (?) are a little porky for the 2.4 Ecotec. They can’t perform like the V8 Suburbans many of their owners seem to have downsized from. This kind of performance is the future, IMO. Small turbos with plenty of reserve power – only if you’re willing to pay for the gas – towing 3,000 lb+ compacts. I’ve driven the optional V6 – the highway mpg is decent – high 20′s – but under 20 mpg in the city.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          The Nox/terrain are great vehicles in search of a better base engine. And one is readily available in the 2.5 Malibu engine but of course GM refuses to install it. it not only is quieter and smoother but puts out more power and torque and gets several better MPG too. When your basic 23k 3400 LB sedan has a better std engine than your 27-30K 3800 LB CUV then there is a serious problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      A woman I know who *maybe* makes low $50s/year bought an absolutely loaded four-cylinder Terrain because she considers herself a “country girl” and wanted a “truck” but couldn’t afford a brand new loaded Yukon.

      I don’t even try to understand it.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Stan Marsh’s angry sister on “South Park” would say it best — “turd”

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Considering the fact that these are not sold new on “Civilian” dealer lots, I sure do see a lot of them in traffic.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Wait, is this the same platform as the 2006 Saturn VUE? I got stuck with that as a rental nearly 8 years ago and yes, it was awful though it got me around.

    The only reason I remember it was because I used it for a great weekend boating and partying with an ex I’d run into at a wedding the month before. What stood out is that I cut the long weekend short and went home early Sunday morning to help my bicycle club with an event in Central Park. At the end, a woman I knew from the club and I struck up a conversation. We married a year later.

    I don’t owe the Saturn VUE anything for that, but it sort of plays a role.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I award you two sets of points: for hooking the ex and for marrying a cyclist.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Thanks Jack, and you’re my hero. Hope you’re continuing to get stronger.

        My wife is great and bikes to work almost every day, though she’s not much for cars. I never think about the other road not taken.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      First of all, excellent story.

      Second of all, yes and yes. The Captiva uses the same Theta platform as the first-generation Saturn Vue. And the Saturn Captiva literally is a rebadged version of the second-generation Saturn Vue.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeGuy

      I actually own a 2006 Saturn Vue. This car Jack drove is the 08+ version of the Saturn Vue.

      My Vue has the 2.2L Ecotec engine that is shared in the Cobalt and only comes with 142HP, but I do have the manual transmission (Gasp!). Thanks to its plastic panels, it only weighs in at 3,300lbs (per Edumnds), it handles the 4 cylinder better and I can usually return low twenties or even 26 MPG if I drive really, really slow.

      The thing is incredibly reliable, and super cheap to work on when you DIY the work.

      It does has insanely cheap plastic pieces in the interior, and the gaps show just how much GM just didn’t give a damn at the time about interior quality, but because no one wants a manual SUV, these things can be bought at some insane prices!

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I remember that V6-equipped Vues after 2004 (I think) had the Honda J35A3 (3.5-liter) engine and a Honda transmission. I’ve always wondered what those were like…

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          I was excited to find out once. I had a rental of what had to be one of the final first gen VUEs built. It had the Honda V6. I was curious because at the time my wife owned a soon to transform into a turd 2002 VUE with the Opel V6. The rental however had some issue where all the instruments would go out and it would go into limp mode. I distinctly remember it because the first time it happened I was in Lansing, Michigan driving under an overpass on top of which were several picketing GM workers.

          I was given a Camry to complete the next leg of the trip out to Dayton, Ohio with and felt it was a decent car with a cheap radio and never got to enjoy the VUE.

          I was one of those crazy Saturn types and racked up 250-300k on a couple original S cars and actually liked them, but the VUE with its failure prone take the damn intake manifold off to replace thermostat, disintegrating interior plastics, and electrical issues way to early in its life led me to the current Hyundai.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          I just covered about 1000 miles in a 2006 this weekend, covering about half of I-5 between Oregon and Cali. The drivetrain is mostly great: very quiet on the highway, we were doing 80 most of the time and could converse without effort. I did notice that it tends to hunt for gears around 30-40 mph. I know the car had a 6, whether it was Honda’s or not I can’t say.

          I was put off a bit by the car’s handling, it felt tippy and unstable on curvy roads, compared to my Element. On the interstate it tracked fine.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Nothing about this makes sense when compared to a CX-5. I have no idea why they make it.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Since they already had the tooling & plant and the development costs were fully written off, they could hit Hertz’ price point for a cheeeeeeaaaap CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Because it avoids the scenario of having a bunch of ex-fleet Equinox and Terrain units on the market, which would lower the resale values of those models. I honestly think it’s a car that’s presented in a “don’t-expect-much” kind of fashion, and that’s exactly the way you should approach it.

  • avatar

    MMR is $2-3k less on a Captiva Sport compared to an equivalent Equinox.

    If any of you understand the concept of a ‘switch car,’ then you understand why a LOT of people LOVE Captivas.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Please explain the concept.

      • 0 avatar

        A switch car is something that you can switch someone into from the vehicle they REALLY want but cannot qualify for while still being able to finance it and not have to make a bunch of excuses for it (“No, Suzuki is still in business…making dirt bikes…and overseas”)

        At a medium to high-volume franchise store (Ford, Chevy, Toyota, whatever).

        John Public comes onto the lot, looks around, likes the brand-new CUV I’m offering. Credit/budget/whatever dictates he can’t afford it. Can’t qualify for a high-dollar CPO one either. Enter the Captiva. Its got that new-car year (2012+), that new-car smell (<40k miles), a familiar nameplate that any lender will finance and put an extended warranty on (not a Suzuki, Mitsu, etc), your buyer paid 'right' money for it (right around average black book), and they book out decently (NADA value).

        "Sir, I can't get you done in this CPO Equinox for where you're looking to be, but how about this gorgeous '12 Captiva?"

        For a high-volume independent/non-franchise store like CARMAX, Drivetime, etc. it presents the same opportunity.

        Inoffensively-styled, books out strong, bought for cheap, late-model, popular nameplate. Its like it was engineered to be a switch car.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          There are also scenarios in which automakers keep the previous-generation of a car in production, partially to lessen discounts on the newer model, and partially to catch such buyers. The 2014 Rogue Select and the 2014 Infiniti Q40 (A.K.A. G37) are two such examples.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thank you for the explanation.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I realize this is supposably a rent only vehicle, but lets face the facts, dealers are selling these to everyone, I’ve seen more of these in the past week than I have seen subaru as in their entire portfolio. This has got to be one of the quickest selling vehicles in raleigh NC, they are everyone, as in PERSONAL vehicles.

    Also you mentioned the 2.4 as a big engine…. Seriously?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      They have to be sold as “used” but really..

    • 0 avatar

      @Hummer. A few dealers may have somehow acquired a few just like that dealer who was selling a Caprice to retail buyers. A nationwide search on cars.com shows 47,000 Equinoxs’ and only 17 Captivas on dealer lots. What you may have seen were probably used cars that were rentals in their past life.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      It’s big for a four-cylinder.

      Other than the Toyota 2.7 and the old Porsche 3.0, how many other four-cylinders are more than 100cc bigger?

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That’s true. 2.5-liters (Nissan, GM, Ford) is about as big as it gets for four-cylinder engines. Also, I hate most six-cylinder engines that are smaller than 3.0-liters, including Infiniti and Lexus’ 2.5-liter V6 engines. The Saab 2.8-liter turbo V6 (briefly used as a premium engine in the SRX, by the way) was actually pretty nice, though.

        EDIT: I just remembered that my Jetta has a 2.8-liter VR6. lol

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage, Ferrari 750 Monza, Ferrari 857S, Pontiac Tempest Trophy 4, Ford Model T, Stutz Bearcat(5.9 liter 4 cylinder), dozens of other pre-WWII cars, and Austin-Healey 100 off the top of my head.

        Edit: I forgot the GM 4 cylinder used in the Colorado/Canyon that reached 2.9 liters. There was a 3 liter diesel 4 in other markets.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Comparitively to what’s been availible in the last 30 years yes, it’s not at the bottom of the list.
        Similarly the dodge 6.4 isn’t exactly big, yet it is possible the biggest V8 with any substantial volume built today.

        I think the last gen Colorado had a 2.9l 4 cyclinder available, I’m sure there are a few oddballs with more displacement. There are several pre 1980s with 3+l 4s, but we won’t count them.
        Mazda has a 2.5l for a compact car, but several other makers use 2.5ls as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        VM Motori 2.8 liter diesel four cylinder. Used in the US market Liberty CRD from 2005-2006. Still sold overseas in Jeep products, most notably the Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        The Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins started out with a 2.8 liter I4 as the base engine in the US and it was enlarged to 2.9 liters in 2009.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    GM doesn’t particularly care. The Captiva does what it’s supposed to do, which is to keep Terrain and Equinox resale-values afloat.

  • avatar

    Ouch! I used to think the Captiva would make a great commuter car. With tall seating, 6 speed auto, 4 cyl NA engine and good visibility it would still make for a great commuter car if priced $17,000 or less. I had no idea it was such an expensive, inefficient piece of junk. The list price of $24,400 on GM Fleet.com is comical for a CUV built on a 10 year old platform, paid off tooling and made in Mexico. A base CR-V for comparison is $22,900 and the standard features list for a CR-V is 5 times as long. The high list price for a base version was probably to discourage retail buyers from buying these over an Equinox. Rental agencies must be paying a lot lower.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The “used car prices” of Captiva’s and similar vintage Equinox’s are almost the same when I go looking at Auto Trader and Cars.com. I can’t fathom why anyone would choose a 2012 Captiva over a 2012 Equinox on the used car market.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well now there is no reason for me to do a Capsule Review of a 1st gen 3400 equipped Equinox because the 180-hp V6 Equinox of pre-bankruptcy GM could be described exactly the same way. Every time I hit an on ramp and floored it to get caught up with traffic I thought the damn thing was going to blow up.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That motor never should have been used in anything larger or heavier than N-body.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        You DO NOT want to hear the sound a 3400 makes at 5000 rpm screaming toward 6000 attempting to get onto Interstate 40. It is like the suffering of 1000 of Sara Mclachaln’s abused ASPCA rescue pets being drowned in molten lava.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          LMAO.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I put a 3.4 ( produced after the 3400 but designed long before it) with a 4.3 TBI and injectors into a s10 and it sounds great.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            My 3.1 Skylark can’t even hit 5000 rpm, the gearing seems to stop the engine from revving above 4000 at any time. It doesn’t sound particularly great at 4000 rpm either…

            This is a car that weighs about 3000 pounds before I get in it and even it requires full throttle to maintain 65-70 mph and keep up with traffic. Fortunately I don’t drive on the highway often, but yeah, the motor is just done above 3500 rpm or so.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Mine came factory with 4:11 gearing, so that really helps, but it will also cruise at 80mph quite comfortably.

            I had a guy comment last time I drove it, what size V8 was in it…

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Was that the crate motor designed as a drop in for the 2.8 trucks? I thought that was a 3.1 but I could be wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @mkirk, yes you are correct. I’ve heard that the 3.4 can be dropped into S10s and S10 Blazers but for those that came from the factory with a 2.8V6 the GM Parts approved replacement engine was the 3.1V6 “Repowering Option” they called it. My dad’s employer had a 2.8V6 S10 Blazer which when the engine needed rebuilt he opted for the 3.1. Totally changed the character of the vehicle. BUT most of that change was switching from carb to fuel injection.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Yes it was a 3.4, Made as a direct “performance” drop, granted most people see it as a waste rather than just going V8.

            You might be able to find more info on it, especially on S10 forums.

            It’s intended for trucks/blazers that are carbed, but honestly it easier to just put it in a throttle body truck and use a 4.3 tb

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Definately a 3.4, it would have been pointless to use a 3.1.
            Plus if it was a 3.1 I would never have got it running on 4.3 injectors without putting a regulator on the injectors.
            And it came with cool 3.4 GMPP stickers ;)

            But look it up, I used to know the Part number off hand, I know there’s a lot of info on the S10forums.

  • avatar

    I read this review and begin to think that it makes sense, but then I remember Jack’s 2013 Yaris review. I tested that Yaris, and it was a fine econobox. In my private comparo it went level with Fiesta and Accent, solidly beating Versa (before Note). It drove somewhat better and had nicer appointments than supposedly equivalent xD, with should be the same car. Maybe Toyota threw $50 in better shocks and struts at it. Or tires. But anyhow, that was completely the opposite of Jack’s impression. So, thinking again about the Captiva, I cannot be sure that this article tells me anything.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Was it the 3-door french-made-for-Europe Yaris?

      • 0 avatar

        It was the 5-door. BTW, I looked it up and apparently Toyota makes a version of that which has “sport-tuned suspension”. Maybe I hit that one? Even so I’m sure it was not up to Jack’s standards.

        For the record, in the finals it lost to Fit, mostly on Honda’s attention to the interior design. Also, I hope that its boring 5sp would last longer than these new-fanged CVTs.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    “The on-board computer reported 22.6 miles per gallon during the freeway segments on Interstates 70 and 65, but if anything, it was optimistic; the Captiva swallowed approximately thirteen gallons during a 200-mile jaunt between West Lafayette and the Dayton area.”

    That just sucks.

    I’d pull 27-28 mpg easy at freeway speeds in my old 2.5 liter Outback. My 3.0 liter BMW (granted, no AWD and much less frontal area) easily cracks 30 mpg on the highway. That’s hand calculated, not the slightly optimistic trip computer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Nitro vs Captiva, who wins?

    • 0 avatar

      I would take Nitro. Same sucky gas mileage, but a more robust platform. Interior may be meh, but it’s a draw.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Oh god, the Nitro…that was just a Liberty in new clothes, right?

      Liberties seem to get more and more scarce…a friend of my mom’s had her Liberty suffer some massive fatal failure after a long series of repair bills, I guess they had some serious issues.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Nitro and 2nd generation Liberty, same platform. No “Trail Rated” or fancy 4×4 systems on the Nitro just one choice on 4×4. The Nitro also got Chrysler’s 4.0 V6 at some point, don’t think the Liberty did.

        Rarest combo would be the V6, 6-speed manual, 4×4 version of the Nitro, I’ve seen one.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Yeah, pretty sure the Liberty had the 3.7 V6 for its entire life. Maybe that engine has problems, Detroit only recently seems to have stopped making V6 engines that can catastrophically break down. =P

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nitro all day long.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Ugh…the captiva

  • avatar
    blppt

    I find that the same Ecotec in my Uncle’s new GMC Terrain is just as gutless as you describe…I tried using the sport mode (locked in 5th) to keep the engine from downshifting at every moderate grade on the highway, but to no avail—the tranny still needed to downshift to 4th to maintain 65mph.

    I’m sorry, but I dont see how all this shifting is good for transmission life; it seems to be the letter of the law nowadays—just about every small NA 4 cylinder in a 3,300lbs car has a top gear keeping the revs at or below 2,000 rpms at 60mph, which more often than not is way too low to maintain speed up grades without constant shifts to 5th or 4th gear. Luckily, my CC 2.0T has the turbo torque to be more than adequate at such low revs, but for these heavy cars with NA 4s, its just pathetic and irritating.

    And while it may beat the EPA system for mpgs, in real life, all the downshifting must kill fuel economy like the author stated. Just stupid all around.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not convinced that higher rev engine delivers worse fuel economy than lower rev engine, necessarily.

      I am presuming same MAP, of course (both (un-)throttled to the same amount), so the pumping losses are same, proportionally. The amount of power required at the wheels is the same for a given car. Therefore, it comes down to efficiency. If we postulate that slower-revving engine has better combustion chamber flow, it might win. On the other hand, smaller engine is going to have the smaller heat loss area through the head and cylinder walls. Remember how hemispherical chamber was supposed to reduce such losses?

      In addition, if the lower-revving engine has higher power rating when it reaches the same revs for our example, it’s going to have to run throttled, incuring pumping losses.

      It does not seem clear-cut.

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        Based on my understanding, the ICE is usually considered to be most efficient at WOT under low RPMS, so it seems to me that you would want to keep the rpms lower to get the best fuel economy. Which is tough to do with a motor that does not have sufficient power down low to maintain speed on the highway.

        Not to mention the noise, and possible jerkiness (GMs automatics are smoother than most, IME, so at least theres that) of all this shifting irks me terribly, LOL. Or the wear on the transmission and engine mounts with all this downshifting. I guess we have to have faith that the engineers considered this and designed greater wear into these components, heh.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My experience with the new 2.5-liter (Malibu, base Impala, base ATS) is that it’s much better than the 2.4-liter, but it’s not yet been put into an SUV…so we’ll see. Either way, the 2.4-liter is definitely on its way out.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    These are oddly popular in Colorado Springs.

    How a gutless four banger with a brainless transmission can ever be seen as a viable mode of transport in a city with steep grades and suburbs at well over 7000 feet altitude is a mystery.

    Then again, there are retards who brave the icy slopes in VW Vanagons, so it must be the legal weed.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    From what I’ve read on this site the US Captiva isn’t well received.

    It appears uglier than ours and your engine choice is limited. Our Captiva’s come with a 3 litre SIDI engine (similar to a Comaro/Commodore) engine, 2.2 400Nm diesel or the 2.4 petrol.

    Below is a review of our Captiva, which by the way is basically the same vehicle the US receives.

    http://www.carshowroom.com.au/newcars/reviews/3504/2013_Holden_Captiva_7_LX_Review_and_Road_Test

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      BAFO, the Captiva reviewed here (TTAC) is equivalent to our Captiva5 and not the Captiva7 you linked there.

      The 7 looks better than the 5 and the Holden looks far better than the Chevy, and can be had with a diesel too.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Athos Noblile or Butterballs the make believe Aussie.
        I’ve told you before if you want to interact with me on a civil level you will call me Big Al, Al or Big all from Oz.

        You obviously don’t live in Australia or you would know that the Captiva 5 is the diesel and looks exactly the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Butterballs
        Do they look any different, are they based on a different platform?

        http://www.carsguide.com.au/news-and-reviews/car-reviews-road-tests/holden_captiva_5_review

  • avatar
    kjb911

    Funny enough, we can barely keep them on the lot every time we purchase a couple from enterprise they last roughly 7 days before being sold. The simple answer to the equation…price. Why pay 25,000 for a new Equinox when you can have a 2013 LT, leather and roof for 17,995 with a certified warranty aka a new car? I have a love hate with the product I sell. My 2LTZ Malibu with the Turbo is pure sublime (I loathe the LS), the impala 2.5 eh take it or leave it, the Cruze Diesel / and 1.4 manual combination great product. Spark CVT UGH, Equinox good CUV, a tad overpriced. Traverse, hands down my favorite thrid row since I can fit comfortably as a 6 foot tall 200lb man.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Lots of people buy cars on autopilot, cheapest price wins. They won’t find out about the crappiness until later – and lots of people won’t even notice that. To the person who only cares that all the people and stuff that they need to move fits inside, and the car moves (somehow) when they press the accelerator and stops when they press the brake and turns when they rotate the steering wheel, it’s all good. There are LOTS of people like that.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Here in the frozen north, home of 1.29 a litre {$5.00 a US Gallon} gas. The 2.5 Impala is amazing.

  • avatar
    WJU

    I find many of the comments on this car, and to a lesser degree the review, just snobbish dislike for GM cars in general. I’m helping a friend with her test driving/buying of a 2013 – 14 small SUV. We have road tested the Captiva LTZ, Toyota RAV4 XLE and the top of the line Honda CRV. What we have found with test driving these cars on the high way, 2 lane country roads, suburban roads and poorly paved roads is the Captiva is MUCH quieter, MUCH smoother ride, comparable handling and overall much more comfortable. The engine performance (acceleration, etc) is equal in the Captiva and RAV4 but the Honda is better than both.

    All three cars have the same 3/36 and 5/100 warranty. The Toyota and Honda will have better resale value in 5 years, which is how long she plans to keep it. But the Honda and Toyota both cost $3000 – $5000 more in the same year/mileage range. And that does not take into account the increased financing cost for buying the more expensive Honda or Toyota. So the resale argument is at best a “wash” but based on the increased upfront cost, more likely a loss-leader.

    The amenities that the Captiva has that the Toyota and Honda do not have: all leather seats, park-assist (a big plus for this buyer), power seats (another big plus as this buyer is only 5′ and needs to move the seat up), full featured and more intuitive touch-screen programming, much better 10 speaker/sub-woofer sound system and more overall cargo space.

    I am not saying that the Captiva is a better car than the RAV4 or the CRV. But at the lower price point combined with the added features and better performance in some categories, comments that it should be avoided at all costs, are just plain ignorant.

    • 0 avatar
      WJU

      Other features the Captiva has that the others don’t, that I neglected to list, is that it also has heated seats, remote start and built-in garage door opener.


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