Holden Captiva 7 LX 2012 Review

Holden Captiva 7 LX 2012 Review

The Captiva 7 is Holden’s seven-seat SUV that aims to provide comfortable driving with a smidgen of off-road nous at a competitive price.

While Holden is most widely recognised with its Commodore, the past few years it’s been building up a battalion of Cruze, Barina and Captiva models to flesh out its presence on the roads. The Colorado hasn’t made such an impact around the cities, and the Epica is long gone and best forgotten.

The Captiva is a car that you don’t

think you see around much. Once you’re driving one, though, you notice them everywhere (mostly the five-seater version).

The problem with the majority of Holden’s models is that they have inoffensive and fairly plain (but tidy) design. While the Commodore and Sportwagon have presence, the Captiva is merely present. It’s a well-formed, solidly designed vehicle that will sit comfortably in any situation whether on Ponsonby Road or a rural pub, and in that sense it’s not going to polarize opinion.

The purpose of a seven-seater is to transport the fruits of your loins, otherwise you’d be tempted to buy the five-seater. We recently drove the five-seater (read review). The Captiva 7 is better. It’s a nicer ride, better interior, better proportions. Even if I had two kids I would prefer the Captiva 7, except perhaps for the fact that there’s no cargo blind and therefore no way of hiding anything in the boot.

The third row of seats is large enough for teenagers – I tried with a 5’6” example for 20km and had no complaints. Therefore you’ll be flavour of the month with your offsprings’ friends’ parents when it comes to soccer practice.

The driver and front passenger seats are heated and warm up quickly to a good temperature. There is only single zone air conditioning.

Satellite navigation is available in a large touch screen in the dash. The general operation is intuitive and quick. This screen also shows the trip computer.

Our Captiva 7 LX came with a 190kW SIDI direct injection petrol V6 hooked up to a six-speed auto ‘box. Other options are a four-cylinder 2.4-litre engine, and there is a turbodiesel available that might make more financial sense in the long run. The V6 puts in a solid performance and Holden’s quoted fuel consumption is 10.1l/100km combined. The engine is capable of burning bio-ethanol up to E85.

While it has four-wheel drive capability, it stays in front-wheel drive unless it needs all wheels to scrabble for grip so that fuel consumption is minimized. Like the Captiva 5 it also has 200mm of ground clearance and a hill descent mode which uses automatic independent braking of each wheel to maintain a constant speed down a steeper slope, leaving you free to concentrate on steering.

The stereo comes with Bluetooth phone integration and you can plug your iPod in. The interface for accessing iPod tracks isn’t awesome, but it’s generally functional.

Interior storage is excellent. As well as a large glovebox there is a small compartment on the top of the dash, a small tray under the ticket holder, a medium sized bin which doubles as an arm rest and the best trick, a hidden compartment underneath the two central cup holders. This hidden area is quite large and contains the plug for USB devices.

The rear seats fold flat to form a huge cargo area. While there is no cargo blind, there are some small covered compartments in the boot, but none are big enough for a laptop or similar devices that would be attractive to thieves.

The steering wheel features a number of convenient buttons to control the air conditioning, stereo and cruise control.

One drawback of the Captiva over its more expensive competitors like the Ford Territory is that, despite having the usual range of safety electronics (ABS, EBD, BA, TCS, etc), it only scores 4 out of 5 in the ANCAP crash test rating. You might think this sounds like a major problem, but Audi’s Q7, Mitsubishi’s Challenger and Nissan’s Pathfinder (among others) also only have 4 stars.

Obviously, the LX is the top of the Captiva tree. If you still need 7 seats but your budget doesn’t stretch as far, the SX is the base model and can be had for $14,000 less than the $55,890 of the LX. You’ll miss out on the 19-inch wheels, leather seats, satellite navigation, rear view camera and front parking assist sensors.

The Captiva 7 LX is a great all rounder at a very sensible price. It doesn’t do anything exceptionally, except perhaps overall passenger space and comfort, but it also does nothing badly. In fact, the only complaints about the Captiva are quite trivial so they’re more than offset by the excellent price.

Price: from $55,890 for the LX. The base model SX starts at $41,890


  • Solid performer at a sensible price
  • Good interior space and cabin storage options


  • Minor quibbles – iPod and phone interface is average; no cargo blind; large turning circle
  • Crash rating only 4/5.

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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