The Truth About Cars » chevrolet captiva The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:46:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » chevrolet captiva Bark’s Bites: The World’s Fastest Chevrolet Captiva, Or Why You Should Buy A Used Equinox Instead Wed, 31 Jul 2013 13:30:40 +0000 capsalt (Custom)

“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.


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Rental Car Review: 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport Sat, 14 Jul 2012 13:00:37 +0000  

If you’re shopping for a compact American crossover, Chevy’s Equinox is likely on your list. If however you’re looking to rent a small crossover, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is probably what you’ll get for $29.95 a day from Hertz. While you’re bound to see them on the streets, you can’t buy them new unless you’re a fleet customer. That’s because the Captiva is designed to do two things: keep fleet sales of GM’s other CUVs low and continue to amortize the cost of Americanizing the Opel Antara. Yep, that’s right, under the bow tie, the Captiva Sport is none-other than the 2008-2010 Saturn VUE, aka the Opel Antata, Holden Captiva and Dawewoo Winstorm MaXX. We spent a week in a Hertz rental to find out if Chevy’s rental soft-roader should be on your used CUV shopping list.

Click here to view the embedded video.


The exterior of the Captiva is simple, clean, and completely unremarkable. Saturn called the design theme “Opel look share” which roughly translates to “Americanized Opel built-in Mexico.” Because the Captiva was “created” for fleet duty the plain-Jane looks are completely appropriate (and the slab-sides make covering the CUV with vinyl wraps or magnetic signs an easy process.) On the downside, the Captiva looks nothing like the rest of the Chevrolet product lineup. Of course, this probably isn’t a bad idea since fleet use tends to create high depreciation. Despite the rental-fleet target demographic, alloy wheels and side curtain airbags are standard on all Captiva models. If only Ford could have figure this out and kept the Panther afloat for fleet duty (and Sajeev.)


The Captiva’s interior is a study in grey plastic, but the look is both simple and tasteful. Cabin materials are higher than you might expect with plenty of soft touch plastics. Durability is always an issue with rentals. Our tester has over 18,000 miles on it and looked like a herd of feral animals had migrated in one window and out the other, however a pre-photo shoot wipe-down revealed that the interior plastics took the beating in stride, showing little wear, but questionable fit and finish. Most Captivas for rent (and therefore available on the used market) have the “2LS” package which includes a power driver’s seat, lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel, single-zone climate control, fog lights and Bluetooth phone integration. The standard cloth seats are firm and supportive up front, but fairly hard and low to the ground in the rear. Luggage space in the Captiva rings in at 29 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 54 cubes with the rear seats folded. This is higher than the $19.95-a-day Malibu, but about 30% less than the CR-V and RAV4.


Unlike most GM fleet vehicles, the Captiva can’t be stripped to the bone for volume buyers. This means you can expect all rental and off-rental Captivas out there to have side-curtain airbags, air conditioning, cruise control and a silver-tone version of GM’s corporate AM/FM/CD/MP3/iPod/USB head unit. While GM does offer the option to remove OnStar and XM Satellite Radio from the Captiva, doing so is an “option” that only reduces the sticker by $85 so it doesn’t seem common. GM has had a long history of phone integration since OnStar came on the scene in 1995 and this translates into excellent Bluetooth phone call quality. The head unit’s iDevice and USB integration worked well with my iPod nano, iPhone 4S and iPad 3 as well as a variety of USB flash drives but navigating a large collection of songs is tedious on the small display.


Under the short hood of the Captiva lurks “some engine.” As a fleet or rental car, this section is fairly unimportant and could understandably skipped if GM hadn’t made some important improvements. Back in 2008 the VUE had less-than-refined engine and transmission choices. Rather than maintaining the status quo, GM dropped in a new 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder engine good for 182HP and 172lb-ft of torque and bolted it to a 6-speed automatic. The power boost over the old four is welcome, but the transmission is the bigger change. The GM/Ford developed 6-speed delivers smooth shifts with surprisingly little hunting and most importantly: improved fuel economy. There is still a V6 option, but the old 3.6L engine has been ditched in favor of a more powerful 3.0L direct injection V6 putting out 264HP and 222lb-ft. As with the old Saturn VUE, AWD can only be added with the V6.


The Captiva’s Opel roots are obvious out on the road and I’m not talking about the odd-looking steering wheel stalks. The Captiva handles twisty roads acceptably with a well controlled chassis, average steering feedback and a surprisingly quiet ride. Stabbing the throttle in the four-cylinder model produced very little torque steer despite the respectable 182HP on tap.

Unlike many of GM’s four-cylinder engines, the 2.4L direct injection engine is surprisingly quiet, smooth and thankfully free of the diesel-like clatter from BMW and Ford’s turbo fours. This level of engine refinement is important, because 182HP pitted against 3,900lbs means the engine spends plenty of time at higher RPMs.

The EPA rates the four-cylinder Captiva at 20/28MPG (city/highway), an improvement of 1/6MPG over the Saturn VUE thanks to the extra gears and the DI treatment. The FWD V6 Captiva matches the V6 FWD VUE at 17/24MPG despite the increase in power while the AWD Captiva takes a 1MPG hit on the highway. The 6-speed automatic manages to make the 400lb heavier Captiva competitive with the 4-speed RAV4 and only 3MPG behind the 5-speed CR-V.

GM’s fleet website prices the Captiva Sport between $23,435 and $32,860 depending on your trim and options. Given that GM fleet purchases typically see rebates from $500 to $3,000 depending on the number of vehicles purchased, the true starting cost is lower. A quick used car search revealed nearly a hundred used 2012 Captivas within 500 miles of my location compared with four 2012 RAV4s, and 15 2012 CR-Vs. This comparative plenty helps translate to the advertised $18,000 prices for low mileage (under 12,000 miles) base models and $26,000 for fully loaded AWD Captivas with leather. Adjusting for content, a used RAV4 has a resale value some $2,000-$3,000 higher and a quick conversation with the Hertz sales guy proved there was plenty of room to negotiate on the Chevy. Since late-model used car purchases are all about the bang-for-the-buck, if you’re shopping for a bargain used crossover, the 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport should be on your short list.


Neither Chevrolet nor Hertz provided anything for this review. Our total bill was $360 after tax and insurance for a 5-day rental.

Specifications as tested

0-60: 9.5 Seconds (2.4L FWD)

Average Fuel Economy: 20.1 MPG over 623 miles


2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 52
Chevrolet Ignores A Captiva Audience; Cadillac Gets SRXy Mon, 14 May 2012 16:03:26 +0000

“On a clear day,” John Z once famously wrote, “you can see General Motors.” The day has yet to come, however, when the works of GM will be made plain to the mortal man. Consider, if you will, the bizarre story of the “Theta” platform in the United States. It’s a huge success; the Equinox and Cadillac SRX (which, we are assumed, is totes different from the Equinox, but we will will discuss that contention below) combined for about a quarter-million sales in 2011. It’s a perfect example of the way GM is supposed to work nowadays: there are two platform variants with very little visual similarity combining to provide high volume in one model and high profit in another. Theta is NAFTA-friendly, with the cheapie being made in Ontario and the luxury model in Mexico. The two models are generally well-reviewed. The obscurity, stupidity, and thrown-darts decision-making which used to characterize the General are nowhere to be seen. What’s to criticize, even here at TTAC, where we typically cast a jaundiced eye on the RenCen fire drill?

Well, there is the minor issue of a third Theta, which is as perfect an example of GM’s undiminished ability to screw things up as the other Thetas are of the company’s ability to get things right.

What is the Theta platform anyway? The more one reads about it, the less clear things become. It was engineered by Daewoo and badge-engineered by Opel — or is it the other way ’round? How much of a difference is there between Theta, which underpinned the original Vue and Equinox, and Theta II, which is the current Equinox, and Theta Premium, which is the basis of the SRX? Where did the second-generation Saturn Vue fit into all of this?

The Vue-2 was supposedly developed by Opel to be the Opel Antara, after which it was brought to the United States with as few changes as possible. It predated the SRX but GM sources claim there are significant differences between it and the SRX. Take a look at these two shots and tell me you can’t just see the common bones. You don’t need to be Sajeev Mehta to recognize “hard points” under the skin on this pair:

Supposedly the major difference between the Vue and the SRX was the “premium wheelbase” of the latter. The new Equinox, however, has an even longer wheelbase. Who’s premium now?

In its first and only full year on sale at Saturn dealerships, the Vue-2 knocked out 86,000 units or thereabouts. That’s not small volume, and it would be reasonable to assume that GM would like to hold on to some of that volume. It’s also reasonable to assume that one years’ worth of Vue sales didn’t pay the bills on bringing that vehicle. What to do?

Here’s what they did: the Vue returned for 2012 as the “Chevrolet Captiva Sport”. You’ve probably seen a few of them prowling around. Don’t confuse this with the Chevrolet Captiva sold elsewhere in the world, which is a Daewoo Theta aimed at, and assembled in, developing markets. This is just a re-animated Saturn Vue. They look exactly like Saturn Vues, with the exception of Chevrolet badging. The few reviews and/or news stories I have seen about the 2012 “Captiva Sport” have a surprising number of comments from 2008 Vue owners who would like to buy another one.

Unless their last names are “Avis” or “Budget”, however, they won’t have any luck. The Captiva is a fleet-only model designed to keep the Mexican SRX/Captiva plant humming. If you reserve an “SUV” from a GM-affiliated rental company, odds are you will be receiving a Captiva.

What’s good about this idea? Well, it keeps Mexico working, which is important to GM. It also keeps Equinoxes out of fleets, which is good because four-cylinder Equinoxes have been thin on the ground at dealers for some time now. When my brother went to buy his Equinox last year, he had to do some serious looking around. V-6 models and unpopular option combos were about all you could get without waiting.

What’s bad about this idea? Once again, GM is selling an old vehicle through fleets. This doesn’t help the brand’s image, and it ensures that a lot of people have their first “GM experience” in an obsolete car. The Captiva is five years old and hasn’t been revamped even slightly.

Since the Captiva isn’t sold in dealers, even if people do enjoy a Captiva rental, they can’t convert it into Chevrolet ownership. Instead, they will be shown an Equinox, which isn’t really the same vehicle, doesn’t drive the same, and isn’t priced to the same value standard as the outgoing Vue. The same is true for those Vue owners who would like to get something similar. It’s Equinox or nothing for these buyers, who are then forced to watch a parade of Captivas leaving the airport every afternoon.

What will the resale value of ex-fleet Captivas be? Will they sit next to Equinoxes at used-car lots? Will parts be widely available? Will GMAC finance them at attractive rates? What will it cost GM in the long run to keep Mexico humming at full chat?

Short-term thinking at the expense of long-term benefit is, of course, the truest hallmark of GM. It’s outlasted the soft-square seatbelt buckles, the Rallye steel wheels, and the formal roofline. Nothing says “GM” like chasing today’s dollar. It’s tempting, and depressing, to think that it will ever be so.

In the meantime, TTACers on the lookout for a nice, solid pre-owned SUV might want to check out the Captiva when it appears at the auctions. It’s not as “Premium” as an SRX, and it’s not as, um, “2″ as an Equinox, but it will be dirt-cheap and rather satisfying for the price. In fact, from a certain point of VUE, it might even be CAPTIVAting. Chuckle.

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