Chronicling The Captiva Sport's Brief U.S. Sales History

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

The esteemable Jack Baruth backed one up toward an odd-looking statue back in March. Sales then boomed in April and May.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

In truth, Jack was no fan of the Chevrolet Captiva Sport he rented earlier this year, saying, “It won’t strike the desirability chord in anyone’s heart,” and, “This is a car to avoid at all costs.”

Fleet buyers, including most especially the rental car companies in the United States, did not avoid the Captiva Sport. They flocked to the reclothed Saturn Vue in large numbers.

Nevertheless, as was reported on these pages earlier this month after a virtual disappearance from GM’s sales reports in September and October, GM is done with the Chevrolet Captiva Sport. The upcoming Trax will, in addition to potentially satisfying some potential Buick Encore buyers who would rightly spend less money, also cater to rental companies in the Captiva Sport’s stead.

Now that it’s gone, consider just how many of these overweight but not completely unpleasant SUVs were sold: 7038 in the final quarter of 2011; another 36,935 in 2012; 47,600 more in 2013. Through the first seven months of 2014, before GM began running out the clock, Captiva Sport volume was up 22% to 33,308 units. The Captiva Sport’s best ever month was May 2014, when sales shot up 22% to 6204 units. On four occasions, more than 5000 were sold in a single month. Through the first five months of 2014, the Captiva Sport ranked 29th overall among SUVs and crossovers, ahead of some 60 different nameplates.

These aren’t insignificant figures. In other words, there’s a reason you see’em around. Even after two months in which only 74 were sold, the Captiva Sport’s year-to-date figures at the end of October show a vehicle which sold as often as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Nissan Juke; nearly as often as the surging Kia Sportage; 38% more often than the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport; 69% more often than the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Captiva Sport, like the Vue which came before it, is not the kind of vehicle that will stand out in our memory for its goodness or popularity. But as a fleet-only experiment, obsessive observers of the auto industry will hark back to the Captiva Sport’s presence in the U.S. market as a means of justifying that Nissan should sell a Rogue and a Rogue Select, that the current Impala should stay on board when they introduce an eleventh-gen sedan, and that the W124 E-Class should still be on sale today.

The Captiva Sport was an anomaly, the kind of vehicle we’ll re-eulogize the next time a brand is killed off. And in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t rare.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Nov 18, 2014

    I'm surprised they did not keep the hybrid version around to boost their CAFE.

  • Shaker Shaker on Nov 18, 2014

    I remember peering into the windows of more than one Vue when I was car-shopping in 2008 - I always thought that it had a superior "air" to it, and the packaging was "just about right". But, the Mexican assembly and reported poor MPG steered me away (as well as the looming demise of Saturn).

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.