#TDOTD Test Drive of the Day: Captivated by Chevrolet’s diesel-powered Captiva

Manny N. de los Reyes - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – As a car enthusiast, I enjoy driving nimble-handling small cars. But as a father of three kids in their mid- to late teens, I need as much space as I can get. Which is why I’ve always had a special fondness for compact cars that can fit more people inside than their similarly sized rivals. Case in point: the new Chevrolet Captiva. It’s a compact SUV/crossover from a highly competitive class that includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV 4, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi ASX, Suzuki Grand Vitara, the new Nissan X-Trail, and the upcoming Ford Escape.

But while most of those crossovers are five-seaters, only three are seven-seaters (or can be ordered or fitted as one): the new X-Trail, the CR-V, and the Captiva. Of those three, the one I’d choose to own is the Captiva. Don’t get me wrong—the X-Trail is truly a piece of work and you’ll never go wrong with the CR-V; but both of them have gasoline engines while the Captiva has the unbeatable advantage of diesel fuel economy.

Sure, the third-row seat—like most third-row seats—has legroom and elbow room more suited for kids than adults, but having them when you suddenly have to bring two extra classmates (or even officemates) is a boon. Try that in your midsize executive sedan.

Boasting a 2.0-liter 161-hp CRDi turbo-diesel engine (with a state-of-the-art Variable Geometry Turbo) mated to a 6-speed automatic with Eco Drive Mode and manumatic function, the Captiva delivers phenomenal fuel efficiency on the order of 8-10 km/L in the city and 12-16 km/L (or even higher) on the highway—not bad for a seven-seater whose body is among the largest in its class. You won’t get those figures in most of its gasoline-fed rivals. And don’t get me started talking about the torque (a class-leading 360Nm, if you need to know).

The Captiva exudes a commanding presence with its sleek, bold lines, masculine corners and its bold, signature dual-port grill with the iconic Bowtie insignia at its center. The rear bumper is remodeled with integrated, stylized dual chrome exhaust tips and new rear light clusters that projects a more sophisticated look. To add flair to its appearance, the Captiva is equipped with projector headlamps, a redesigned front bumper with more elegant foglamp covers, cool LED taillights, standard roof rails and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Capable of seating seven adults (when all seats are in the upright position) and boasting trunk space that increases up to 1,577 liters when both 2nd and 3rd row seats are folded, the Captiva may arguably be the most spacious compact SUV in its segment. The flexible folding of both 2nd and 3rd allows you to transport irregular shaped cargos with ease. Ample storage spaces are smartly placed within the vehicle to make sure that loose items are properly organized.

The Captiva delivers a smooth and quiet ride thanks to its McPherson strut and stabilizer front/4-dimension, multi-link rear suspension system. The Captiva’s impressive load-bearing capabilities can be partly attributed to the self-leveling system that works to distribute weight equally around the car to compensate for large loads and uneven passenger distribution

The compact SUV is equipped with rear suspension auto-leveling which prevents the vehicle from assuming a nose-up-tail-down stance under heavy loads. This feature also distributes the weight more evenly, increasing safe handling and braking. Rear Park Assist and a rear window defogger help the driver to maneuver while reversing. With its new electronic parking brake feature, not only does the technology provide more space on the center console (no handbrake lever is necessary), it also lessens the risk of driving the vehicle while the handbrake is engaged and accidental rolling of vehicle while parked.

Equipped with loads of comfort and convenient features such as Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones and MP3 players, six audio speakers, steering wheel-mounted audio and air conditioner setting controls plus dual climate control, the Captiva elevates the standard of pleasurable driving experience.

Downside? Being a front-wheel-drive variant with lots of torque, there is the inevitable torque steer you would feel when you suddenly floor the accelerator at low speeds and when the front wheels aren’t in the straight-ahead position. Be gentle with the right pedal (which is really 99th-percentile driving) and this won’t be an issue.

And at just under P1.4 million, the Captiva is priced dangerously close to the entry-level variants of midsize seven-seaters like the Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu mu-X, and Chevrolet’s own Trailblazer. They’re bigger, yes, but have nowhere near the car-like on-road dynamics, driving ease, and riding comfort of the Captiva. I still know which vehicle I would choose.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with