Pros: "Value for price. Quiet, solid, tight ride."
Cons: "Few have heard of it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This review is of the 2013 Chevy Captiva Sport LTZ FWD (17K -$19,499) we recently purchased as a GM certified used vehicle. It is a somewhat unusual model from Chevy in that you can only find them used in the US. I stumbled across them when searching for Compact SUV's (CUV's) at local dealerships (CR-V, Rav4, Escape, Tiguan, and Equinox) and the Captiva was the best balance for our needs. It was an almost new (2013) vehicle, with <20,000 miles, luxury trim features, and many beautiful design elements inside and out...for less than $20,000!
This is not to say that other vehicles in the class are not available at that price, but you are often stuck with the base trim level or higher miles or older vintage. I suspect the reduced price point is an unintended benefit of not actively marketing this model and only having it available as a used vehicle. Throw in the Chevy/GM Certified Used vehicle perks and the age-old ritual of negotiating with the sales manager (no hassle/no haggle places are nice, but better deals exist if you are willing to play the game) and the final all-in price is real tough to beat.
This section is mostly speculation since our vehicle is a 2013 with 17k on it. However, it is worth reiterating that the GM Certified protections should keep the vehicle running the obligate number of years. The drivetrain is modern but strait forward technology: A 6-speed automatic transmission (MH7-6T45) jointly developed with Ford and used in other vehicles without massive recalls. The 182 hp 2.4L 16VVT Ecotech (LEA) Direct Injected 4-cylinder engine (i.e. not turbo/super charged = less parts to break and less stress on the parts) also used in many other vehicles without issues. The rest of the Captiva's major components have been in use globally since about 2008 when the first version of this vehicle was introduced as the German engineered Opel Antara and brought to the US as the Saturn VUE. In searching the info available online this vehicle has a pretty good reliability history.
My wife really likes the "touch" qualities of the Captiva compared to other vehicles in the class. Her own specific description is something akin to how she describes high-end clothing and accessories, but with the excitement of finding them 1/2 off. I thought everything felt sturdy and without rattles, nice vault-like doors, good fit and finish overall. Crash test data from its 2008-10 Saturn VUE days is also reassuring to the build quality and engineering (a touch of the German style heavy-duty build similar to VW/BMW/MB, I suspect from Opel roots). Had to give 9/10 since there were a few of the "nice for Chevy but not Buick/Cadillac" moments with material choices and equipment options. Compared to the other vehicles we tested it came off on par with the much much more pricey upgraded Tiguan and way better than similarly priced CR-V/Rav4's. (Quality is revealed with time so its off to a good start but this is also partially opinion and speculation so please perform due diligence and test drive the actual used vehicle you are interested in, this is my impression from personal experience with 3 separate vehicles we test drove, and the admittedly short period of ownership with the LTZ we eventually bought. With that disclaimer, I am really impressed with the Captiva's overall quality)
WARNING- My wife and I are not drag racing, autobahn driving, or super-stretching the milage. This review is limited to real-life congested city/suburban and highway "road trip" milage. That said, at 3,900ish pounds and with 182hp it is not going to move like a much less fuel efficient high performance combo would. For our purposes it is more than adequate. I have no idea what my wife's 0-60 has been when commuting, but even in the Eco mode there has been plenty under the hood to get from red light to red light effectively. On the highway the engine is responsive but quiet at just about all reasonable speeds, and the trans shifts intelligently. No joke, the vehicle handles like a BMW or Audi in terms of cornering and steering...solid (thanks Opel), liked it way better than the other CUV's we tested. Dare I say it was kind of fun to drive for its easy road confidence and great vantage point (big deal for my wife but a driver of any size can appreciate). 24-26mpg in town and 29-30 mpg highway is what we have averaged so far.
--Design In and Out:
My wife had a stronger opinion regarding CUV style than I did. In my opinion it is a class where form should follow function and you wont have beauty pageant winners. But the Captiva is at least sensible enough to be the girl next door when it comes to exterior style. Too much extraneous body cladding and busy lines seemed to turn my wife off, and as she pointed out, would look dated in just a few years. I like the tasteful use of chrome and the generally athletic cut of the body, with a few details to add an upscale presence (fog lights, skidplate detail, rood racks, front fender vents with turn signal, nice window tint, high end wheels) seem to add to the impression of quality without being "blingy" or cheesy. Inside, it looks better than average, with the same impression as the exterior. Not a lot of design just for the sake of design stuff, more clean and user friendly than the dizzying number of buttons and plastic pieces in some competitors. I think this is a case of German influence in the Teutonic method of clean design. Either you like it, tolerate it, or don't care for it, but it is well thought out and user friendly. The dash and gauges are aesthetically appealing and look like Jaguar or Mercedes with white on black and ice-green accents. The wheel is great, leather wrapped with radio/phone and cruise controls (the plastic/metal insert on the lower half will undoubtably wear and scratch but looks nice now). The center console is fine, radio/CD unit is relatively basic looking compared to what is available in high end vehicles, but in fairness this vehicle was never meant to compete with luxury brands. The technology is on par with competitors and the bluetooth works great.
--Comfort and Convenience:
Great center console storage space and nice cup holder size. The leather seats fit me (6'0") and my wife (5'5") well and she loves her heated seats. She loves the backup camera and sensors, sunroof, and open/generous window feeling of the vehicle compared to others we tested. Great head room all around even with sunroof space in the headliner. The fold-flat rear seats are easy to fold down and also recline comfortably, pretty good leg room and recently fit 3 across in booster seats with no hassle when called upon. Rear cargo space is as expected, came with basic cargo net, but I will likely get the rail-based cargo net system off ebay/amazon to keep groceries from flying around. Spare is under the cargo area floor with some additional storage space available in the area around it. Wish there was separate opening of trunk door and glass of the rear but not a big deal. Remote staring is cool but I haven't used it yet except to test it since our car is parked in a garage most of the time. Wish there was a little more leather/soft material on the doors and armrests but the plastic is probably a more realistic material for weathering the abuse of an everyday vehicle. Lastly, I wish the key was a flip/folding style key for pocket comfort and reduced bulk compared to the separate key and remote fob (I'm used to just my '05 Jetta flip key and house key, my wife somehow has many more keys but can just toss the whole cluster in her purse so less of a problem for her) but I guess it is much cheaper to replace keys this way.
10/10 for us. We spent a lot of time searching for the right vehicle and were pleasantly surprised to find the Chevy Captiva Sport as the right vehicle for the two of us and our soon to be expanding family. From a purely utilitarian perspective we wanted a vehicle of a certain size and functional capacity for a price within our budget, with safety as a primary concern. The rest of the subjective and objective components of this vehicle made it an even more ideal fit for us. We were not particularly concerned about the lack of mainstream recognition for this model since it just reduced the price we paid for more premium amenities. Not surprisingly we have begun to see more and more Captivas on the road and around town as the secret seems to be out on this capable and efficient vehicle. I don't usually review products online but this vehicle deserves some kudos for its balance of classic good looks, user friendly demeanor, and overall value."
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